Power for the south

July 13, 2020

Love many fat royal people today.

That’s the mnemonic by which I can still recall sixth form geography’s lesson on the six factors which affect the location of industry – labour, market, finance, raw materials, power and transport.

When it comes to power, the market in New Zealand is distorted by averaging of transmission costs across the country. That is one of the major reasons Rio Tinto has decided to close the Tiwai aluminium smelter next year and Richard Harman points out it is Auckland votes that did the damage:

. . .Opposition from the city, and particularly its business community, to proposals, put up in 2016 to change the way consumers paid for the transmission component of power pricing killed off what could have been a $20 million cost-saving for the smelter.

That might have been enough to save it. Rio Tinto’s loss on the smelter last year was $46 million. . . 

NZAS has argued that it is forced to pay for investment in the country’s power supply network that has no relevance to it, such as upgrades in the North Island when it is based at Bluff.

In 2017 a company press statement said NZAS paid  around nine per cent of Transpower’s transmission charges to consumers, “including paying towards the $1.3 billion spent on upgrading the grid in the upper North Island since 2004 without receiving any additional benefit to its business.”

“When it comes to transmission charges, we believe you should pay for what you use,” said then-CEO   Gretta Stephens.

“This isn’t what is happening now, so we are committed to working with the Electricity Authority and Transpower to achieve a more sustainable method of pricing transmission services.”

Stephens was therefore ready to endorse an Electricity Authority proposal in May 2017 to radically overhaul the transmission pricing regime and essentially make it a user-pays system. The further a consumer was from their power generator; the more they would be likely to pay.

The smelter uses only about 40km of Transpower lines because the main transmission lines from Meridian’s Manapouri power station to the northern outskirts of Invercargill are owned by Meridian.

The total length of all transmission lines owned by Transpower is 12,000km.

So in proposing that this imbalance be addressed, NZAS, told the Electricity Authority in 2017 the smelter had been located in its current position to allow for port access and to minimise the need for transmission.

“Auckland, by comparison, grew organically because of the natural advantages the location has for residential living,” the company said. “These advantages did not include nearby economic energy resources.

“As a result, considerable expense has been, and continues to be, applied to transporting electricity to Auckland.

“Because of these characteristics, the economic cost of providing transmission services for NZAS is considerably lower than the economic cost of transmission to Auckland”.

Southern individuals and businesses have been and are continuing to subsidise those in the north.

The Electricity Authority then produced a new transmission pricing proposal which would have seen NZAS’s transmission costs drop by 34 per cent to $40 million a year. But to help pay for that, the Authority proposed increasing the transmission costs to Vector, the former Auckland Electric Power Board, by 44 per cent or $50 a household a year.

There was an immediate uproar. . . 

The uproar came from a much bigger voting block than the one in the south and the north won.

Steven Joyce is one northerner who understands this:

Nearly 5 per cent of the Southland workforce will likely lose their jobs — a massive body blow. For Aucklanders having difficulty comprehending what that means, a shock of a similar magnitude in that city would be 40,000 people losing their jobs at once.

The Finance Minister is conveniently trying to hide behind the skirts of Bill English, reminding everyone that Bill said “no more” to Rio Tinto after 2013, and as current minister he’s just sticking with the line. It’s weird how trapped he feels by an 8-year-old decision.

If it helps at all, the Bill English I know wouldn’t have handed out $10 million to a bungy jumping company in Queenstown. If desperate times warrant that much being handed to a single private tourism company, or a ludicrous $280m to support New Zealand Post, Southlanders will legitimately ask why not $30 or $50 million for 2600 jobs in their region?

A very good question and if the smelter was in Northland does anyone doubt that it would get the money?

The smelter has as good a case as the tourism or film sectors, and a considerably better case than what has become a glorified courier company. The international market for aluminium has crashed as a result of Covid-19 decimating the car- and plane-making industries.

More egregiously, the electricity for this and other Southland businesses comes from just up the road at Manapouri, yet Southland is made to pay to have power circulated around the rest of the country. The request for help is more a case for stopping an unfair levy than for a fresh subsidy. Southland is not the only region, and aluminium not the only regional industry that is up against it. . . 

Some people see a silver lining in the smelter closure in the potential for cheaper power. But the electricity the smelter uses is generated in Southland, upgrading transmission lines to get it to the northern North Island would cost many millions of dollars.

If those costs were averaged over the country it would be rubbing very expensive salt into the wounds the smelter closure will inflict on Southland, its labour force and economy.

But it’s not only Southland that is facing big jobs losses.

The Marsden Point refinery bankrolls a similar proportion of high-paying jobs in Northland, and the refining company is making near-identical noises about closure.

Meanwhile, Taranaki is continuing to come to grips with the Government’s pre-Covid oil and gas exploration ban placing an artificial sunset on its biggest industry, and associated companies like Methanex and the ammonia urea plant.

Outside of heavy industry, the Covid-19 border controls have put on ice a series of other sectors that normally contribute to New Zealand’s wealth and jobs.

The $5 billion we earn annually from international education is dwindling to nearly nothing — and that leaves schools, universities and other providers short $1b a year for tuition fees alone.

Tourism limps along on one domestic cylinder, which sparks up in the school holidays but is insufficient to sustain many of the companies reliant on it.

The tech companies that succeed in the world despite our isolated location are wondering how long they can operate from their New Zealand base while being physically cut off from their customers.

And the foresters are suffering from whiplash, feeling alternately loved and loathed, sometimes almost in the same press release, as the Government has somehow got itself to the point where it will decide when forests are planted and where they can be sold. No wonder politicians were belatedly cuddling up to the farmers this week. Food is in danger of becoming our only export sector, so let’s call a truce in the regulatory hostilities and pretend all that talk about the need to diversify away from agriculture was just a bad dream.

The more other export industries falter, the more important agriculture becomes.

Which brings us to the bigger problem that the smelter closure underlines. Exactly how do we plan to make money to pay off this huge debt the Government is running up on our behalf?

How will we fill the massive hole in our exports left by tourism, education, aluminium and oil and gas? And exactly how do we plan to magic up 2600 replacement high-paying jobs in Southland?

Our economic response to Covid-19 is looking ridiculously haphazard. If the Government likes you, you get a bucket of money. If they don’t, then tough luck.

We first need a level playing field, and then we need to focus on increasing the competitiveness of all our businesses. We also need, to paraphrase a certain Australian Prime Minister, to get out from under the duvet and start re-engaging with the safer parts of the world again.

Right now we are being way too cavalier with our whole economic fabric. We could wake up and find whole regions permanently crippled — the ultimate irony for a Government that claims to “champion the regions”.

And, given that our biggest power consumers will have gone, and taken with them their outsized contributions to the costs of the electricity grid, we may not even have cheap power to make us feel better.

Taking big electricity users out of the market won’t make power cheaper. If the big users who contribute most to the energy companies’ coffers go, the cost will be spread across fewer, smaller users including households.

Given the fall in the price of aluminum, even a lower power price probably wouldn’t save the smelter.

But the smelter’s closure should provide the impetus to stop the southern subsidising of the north’s power.

Finding new businesses to soak up the people left unemployed when the smelter closed won’t be easy.

But it could be less difficult if everyone paid the actual cost of getting power which would make Southland much more attractive than Auckland to any enterprises where electricity costs were significant.

Southland has the labour, a variety or raw materials, good transport options and finance is reasonably mobile. It might be further from many markets but much cheaper power could well compensate for that.

So much power is generated in the south, far less will be needed down here without the smelter. This is an opportunity to ensure it stays here and southerners get lower prices to benefit households and the businesses that could soak up at least some of the workers left jobless when the smelter closes.

But what’s the chances of cheaper electric power for the south when political power is in the north?


No active cases

June 8, 2020

New Zealand has no active cases of Covid-19:

We should already be at alert level 1:

. . .Former finance minister Steven Joyce believes we should be at level one already, and believes there’s been a mispricing of risk when it comes to the move to alert level one.

He told Mike Hosking there’s always lots of risks in the world.

“It seems the only measure of success right now is how long we can go without a single new Covid-19 case, and actually that can’t be the measure of success for the Government.”

Joyce says the capacity of the economy is being drained for “head-scratching reasons”.

He says it’s not just a matter of moving to level one but the Government needs to encourage people to go outside – and get back to offices.

“We need the economy to be robust as soon as it possibly can, and I think that’s what’s missing at the moment.”

The government shouldn’t waste any political capital postponing the movement down a level by even a day or two.

Whatever the announcement about moving, there is no social licence for a delay and people are going to move to level 1.


Quotes of the month

February 29, 2020

Hallelujah! A victory for sanity and the reasonable belief of most New Zealanders that personal mobility in the form of cars, trucks and motorbikes will continue to be the norm well into the future, even as the fuel that drives those vehicles radically changes for the better. – Steven Joyce

When they’re older, Anahera and Māia can look at that image knowing they are descendants of the Māori chief in it and the English-born photographer who took it. However, I hope they will recognise the multifaceted aspects of their whakapapa and understand they are first and foremost themselves – individuals who have the freedom to determine their own paths in life without being constrained by historical events that occurred before they were born.

That’s right, none of us was there when the treaty was signed, nor were we there when some of our ancestors stole land from some of our other ancestors, and I’m talking about my Māori ancestors – don’t get me started on the Pākehā ones. Complicated isn’t it? And, no, I’m not proposing “we are one people”, aka Hobson’s Pledge. How about “we are individuals”?Steve Elers

It’s customary these days to criticise politics as too tribal but, the case of the New Zealand Labour Party, at least, it’s the wrong analogy: in practice, it’s less tribe than sect.

Whereas tribes tend to protect their own, and forgive individual sins in service of the collective good, a sect is unforgiving of perceived heretics. Shane Te Pou

Children in arts-rich schools do significantly better at the basics than schools which focus on measuring literacy and numeracy outcomes. The arts build the key skills that employers value most highly: risk taking, collaboration, curiosity and an ability to think across rather than in disciplinary silos.

The arts train the imagination. The imagination is vital for individual and social well-being because we can only make our own and others’ lives better if we can imagine a different, a better world. The arts are carriers of hope, and young people need hope like a fish needs unpolluted water.

When schools deny children the arts, they deny them their imagination. We know the arts train us to think critically, to see things in different and multiple ways, that creativity is part of the puzzle of making democracy work. Education systems that train children how to answer questions rather than question answers leads us into the traps of demagogues and their easy recipes. –  Peter O’Connor

But the point is most Kiwis – most humans – want to earn what they own, not take it from those who already have it. – Kerre McIvor

We’ve become so consumed by climate change, we’ve lost the ability to think rationally. Which is why everyone is running around panicking about Huawei and no one is wondering about a much bigger problem: where their next sandwich is coming from. – Jeremy Clarkson

I’ve said many times before I’m proud of my whakapapa, I’m proud of my English, my British heritage. Ultimately… I’m a New Zealander first and foremost … if I think about Waitangi Day, what I see is a day that yes, that is historic in its significance but is ultimately, at its most basic, about good relations between New Zealanders. – Simon Bridges

For whereas the Left generally prefers to discharge its moral obligation to others through the transformation of society, the Right — sceptical of the grand plan — prefers to discharge it through particular acts of individual kindness and practical generosity.  Though not ever believing that such acts will totally change the world, the Right fights back against the darkness nonetheless, little by little and at local level. Without the showy drama of the revolutionary, the Conservative responds on the human scale, organically.Giles Fraser

Which is all a long and convoluted way of saying that lamenting Waitangi Day for not being a day of national unity misses the point. There are many great things about our country’s history that we can celebrate in an unadulterated way, but the events and subsequent history of Waitangi do not lend themselves to that. They are occasions for introspection, discussion and – yes – argument.

And there’s nothing wrong with having one day in the year for that.  – Liam Hehir

In fact, it’s a stretch to call the arts a “community”. In politics, a community tends to be defined, however broadly, in terms of its interests. Those interests could be based on geography, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, or economic imperatives. The arts are a community more in the sense of the Balkans after the fall of communism – an intractable, internecine turf war based on ancient and obscure grudges. – Ben Thomas

We need people to see that this is not Paharakeke (Flaxmere) , this is not what we do behind closed doors. And to bring the mana back, the aroha back, because unfortunately, from what’s happened to that baby, it’s just gone and broken. – Lynsey Abbott

If there is a solution, it cannot be legislated. If there is a solution you won’t find it in Wellington. If there is a solution, you won’t find it in council … we need to take a look in the mirror.Henare O’Keefe

Paharakeke deserves better, Flaxmere families deserve better. Each and every one of us deserves better. . . Whānau isn’t harden up, it isn’t hide. It’s open up, share. It’s where you be vulnerable. If we can change our family unit, we change our community.  – Michael Ngahuka

The city of sails? Sadly no, the city of fails . . . in a world of work-life balance, it’s all work, little balance.Mike Hosking

In a zinger that already sounds dated the ascendant John Key described Clark and Cullen’s administration as “a Walkman government in an iPod world.” As Ardern and Robertson consider the influence of their former employers and political forebears, they may think Key was being too kind: the ghosts of the fifth Labour government are still firmly tuned in to the wireless. – Ben Thomas

I don’t think New Zealand as a whole has particularly valued research in science and therefore things like opportunities and funding and chances to grow are really quite limited in this country. – Professor Jane Harding

Kids will do better when the adults and the country they live in does better. – Lindsay Mitchell

You can recover from an economic recession, but you can’t recover from a President who thinks the job of the Justice Department is to only apply the law to his political opponents.David Farrar

I am no right-winger, but I find myself unusually in the space occupied by the right – that is, I cannot fathom how property rights can be trampled on in this way, nor how Labour and the Greens can tolerate it. – Sue Bradford

The Washington Post observed after Ardern hobnobbed with the wealthy worthy in Davos that, while many were enthralled, ­others saw the NZ PM as being cut from the same poseur cloth as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, only less annoying and with an easier country to run. – Graham Lloyd

But let me be really clear: we cannot afford to panic. When we panic, we actively harm our ability to respond to difficult situations. So, let’s stay calm and start preparing. What happens in the months to come is going to depend on how we all behave. Siouxsie Wiles


Why not more of what works?

February 24, 2020

Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, visited New Zealand and left us with several recommendations including a rent freeze and capital gains tax.

I have yet to see or hear what the visit cost us, but the government that invited her, could have saved all that by asking Steven Joyce who has much better recommendations

. . . Before we embark on another “housing crisis” complete with politically partisan policy ideas that turn out to be mirages (come on down Kiwibuild), let’s have a look at all the housing policy changes that have occurred over the last decade and assess what practical lessons they provide about the New Zealand housing market.

The first is that land supply is hugely important if you want to build more houses.  . .

The price of houses is a reflection of demand outstripping supply and one of the reasons for that is restrictions on where people can build and the cost of developing new areas for housing.

The premier case study on land availability is post-earthquake Christchurch. Pre-earthquake the local councils developed a “smart growth” plan where they agreed what land around the city would be released for housing progressively over the next thirty years. Then, alongside the lives tragically lost in the earthquakes, massive numbers of houses were made uninhabitable virtually overnight.

After the quakes, amid dire predictions of skyrocketing house prices, Gerry Brownlee took the radical decision to release the whole thirty years of land at once. There was much sucking of teeth at local and central government, but it was the right call.

As the result of competition amongst developers tens of thousands of Christchurch families were able to use their insurance payouts and reasonably priced new home and land packages to successfully re-establish themselves. Christchurch house prices have since been some of the most reasonable in New Zealand. 

The second lesson is about the availability of finance. The Global Financial Crisis dried up bank finance and laid waste to non-bank lenders. The lack of finance for new builds crippled the building market and it took years to recover. That’s a cautionary tale for the Reserve Bank, whose heroic new bank capital ratios will reduce available bank finance, albeit more gradually than previously proposed.

The more banks have to hold, the less they will have to lend and the more expensive the lending will be.

The third, and arguably biggest lesson from the last decade is the now obvious role low interest rates play in driving high house prices, and indeed all asset prices. Every time interest rates have got ridiculously low, house prices have shot through the roof as people bid up prices to the limits of the mortgage they can now afford. This price inflation seems fine if you already own a house, but it perpetuates the wealth gap between those that own houses and those that don’t.

Lower interest rates allow people to afford bigger mortgages, that enables them to pay more for houses and that feeds price increases.

Ultra-low interest rates are driven by governments worldwide contracting out wider economic management to central banks, which then have to compensate for poor microeconomic policies flattening growth. You might not think an oil and gas exploration ban, poor quality government spending, and backward-looking employment policies lead to ever higher house prices, but indirectly they do.

There are lessons out of the rental housing and social housing markets. It is crazy to persist with a single monopoly state housing provider when it has never in its history managed to successfully meet the demand for social housing. It’s also not sensible to let one person have the same state house for life irrespective of changes in their family and personal circumstances. The rapidly growing social housing waiting lists compared to two years ago provide the evidence there. . . 

How can a government that cares let a couple or single person occupy a house with multiple bedrooms while families with several children are homeless?

Then there’s the added compliance requirements and accompanying costs that lead to fewer rentals.

That’s not to say never change anything about residential tenancies, but perhaps don’t whack landlords with a dozen negative changes over, say, three years.

To make housing more affordable, the last decade’s experiences tell us to greatly increase land supply, ensure a ready supply of build finance, put less pressure on the Reserve Bank to lower interest rates to keep the economy going, enlist community and NGO help in supplying social housing, and stop treating the vast bulk of residential landlords like they are pariahs. Oh, and forget a more punitive capital gains tax – countries with one of those have the same skyrocketing house prices as we’ve had.

There are valid arguments for a capital gains tax but reining in house prices isn’t one of them.

If CGTs haven’t worked anywhere else, there is no reason to expect they’d work here.

The high cost of housing is a major factor in poverty and all the problems that stem from that.

Why did the government waste money on the UN expert whose recommendations wouldn’t work, when a local one has a much better recipe that would work?


Only a start

February 3, 2020

The government’s announcement of a $12b investment in infrastructure wasn’t quite what the headlines said.

For a start, the spending announced last week was for around $7b. No doubt the government is leaving the other $5b for announcements later in the year.

And while the government has been clear it’s borrowing to fund this investment, it hasn’t given a timetable for repaying the debt, nor has it mentioned the interest that will accrue. Yes interest rates are at historically low levels but even a little interest compounding on $12b soon turns into a lot more to repay.

The announcement on new and better roads has been well received but as Steven Joyce points out:

. . .Hallelujah! A victory for sanity and the reasonable belief of most New Zealanders that personal mobility in the form of cars, trucks and motorbikes will continue to be the norm well into the future, even as the fuel that drives those vehicles radically changes for the better.

Beyond that, the government’s announcement was tepid and unambitious, despite all the hype.

Alongside a few worthwhile already scheduled rail and local roading projects, they are simply re-starting five of the major state highway projects that were cancelled after the last election.

To provide some context, when completed these projects will provide just over 60 kilometres of modern four lane highway.

The Roads of National Significance of the last decade just wrapping up provide over 300 kilometres of new highway to the same standard.

Also the pace of construction over the next five years will be about half what it has been over the last three years.

We’re getting less, it’s taking more time, and the government’s borrowing to do it.

The Government is therefore expecting a lot of applause for a massive reduction in roading investment. I suppose it is better than nothing.

It must be questioned however why there is a need to borrow all those billions when a programme nearly five times the size was able to be mostly funded from petrol taxes and road user charges (which are much higher today).

There is also a sizeable fish-hook embedded in the fine print. The government is to investigate dedicating one of the two lanes each way on each project for buses, or cars with multiple occupancy.

I can see that going down like a cup of the cold proverbial if it ever comes to pass. . . 

The government has wasted two years before deciding to do some of what National would have done and is borrowing to do what National would have done from better management of crown accounts rather than debt-funding it.

There is a better way:

With all that in mind, here is a starter for ten on what a new state highway building plan for New Zealand could look like: three networks of modern four lane highways based through and around our three biggest cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The Northern Expressway network would safely and efficiently link Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua. The Central Expressway network would do the same for Wellington, Hutt Valley, Levin, and Palmerston North, on towards Whanganui and over the hill to Hawkes Bay.

The Southern network would radiate out from Christchurch, north to around Amberley, south to Ashburton and on towards Timaru, and inland towards the Alps.

A decent chunk of each is now already built. Completed over say a twenty year period the three networks would provide safe, reliable, stress-free travelling of a standard that is taken now as a given in the rest of the developed world.

They would help spread around growth and development as has occurred in the Waikato with the new expressway, and much earlier on Auckland’s North Shore with the Northern motorway.

They would lower the road toll by eliminating the temptation for dangerous passing manoeuvres on our busiest two-lane roads, as we have seen with the Tauranga Eastern Link and Waikato Expressway.

This sort of plan would be an upgrade worthy of the name, and would require simply upping the pace of the last ten years. . . 

So it’s a start, but only a start and a late one on borrowed money at that.


Quotes of the Year

December 31, 2019

You can volunteer to take life seriously but it is gonna get you, they are going to win over you, it is harsh, but you can either break down and complain about how miserable your life is or have a go at it and survive. I think that is the basis of it all. – Billy Connolly

Working for Families is a policy that satisfies few on the Left or the Right. Compromises rarely do. They are imperfect by their nature. They are necessary, however, because people are imperfect and always will be. If things were otherwise, we wouldn’t need government at all. – Liam Hehir

The greatest threats to our native wildlife – and our rural economy – may yet be science denial and conspiracy belief. – Dave Hansford

Those elected to positions of authority need to understand that the human condition rarely engages in deceit and halftruths as much as when rehearsing or inventing the science behind their personal environmental concerns.Gerrard Eckhoff

When our total emissions account for 0.17 per cent of total global emissions, leadership isn’t being first, fast and famous. Leadership is taking what we already do well, food production, and doing it even better over time by investing in innovation and technology.  Todd Muller

People have a choice with how they respond to adversity in their life. Creating a positive attitude gives you more control over your circumstances. By staying positive, it means you can make the most out of your life no matter what gets thrown in your direction. – Emma Barker

Being part of a baying mob, for that is what much of our modern commentary has been reduced to, isn’t brave and nor is it radical.

Standing up to them is. – Damien Grant

It is stupid and dangerous. But, we are on private property and we’re just having a bit of fun.

No-one has got too hurt yet … we are not stupid about it. – Patrick Ens

The first challenge is that urban New Zealand does not understand the extent to which our national wealth depends on the two pillars of dairy and tourism.  Yes, there are other important industries such as kiwifruit and wine, and yes, forestry, lamb and beef are also very important. But rightly or wrongly, our population has been growing rapidly, and the export economy also has to keep growing. There is a need for some big pillars.

Somehow, we have to create the exports to pay for all of the machinery, the computers, the electronics, the planes, the cars, the fuel and the pharmaceuticals on which we all depend. . . Keith Woodford

Believe passionately enough in something and you’ll be shouting at the younger generation well into your eighties. – AnnaJones

We realise that Pharmac has a budget, but there seems to be a never ending open budget for welfare. New Zealand surely isn’t so broke that we have to pick and choose who we let live and who we let die. But that is currently where we find ourselves.Allyson Lock

The problem with numbers is that they don’t fudge.They’re definite. Exact. Numbers don’t lie. But people lie.People fudge. People lie about numbers. People fudge numbers. But numbers are the truth.  . .

I think there’s a political lesson here for this government. Watch the numbers or your number’s up. – Andrew Dickens

My take away from all this is that referendums do have a place, even binding ones. But it is best to call on these when the issues are clear and easily understood by everyone in the community. Brexit or not might have seemed clear at the time, driven as it was mainly by fears of uncontrollable immigration across the Channel. But it was not of this genre. As Oscar Wilde remarks: ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple’. In such cases, perhaps best leave it to parliaments. That way we’ll know who to blame it if all goes wrong.Professor Roger Bowden

All kinds of wild ideas that are untested and are demonstrably bad for them and demonstrably wrong – these ideas can spread like wildfire so long as they are emotionally appealing. Social media and other innovations have cut the lines that previously would have tethered the balloon to Earth, and the balloon has taken off. – Jonathon Haidt

Pettiness is on the increase, too, in the constant calling-out of sometimes-casual language that was never intended to offend or harass, and even may have been written or uttered with well-meaning intent. – Joanne Black

Why then did I leave Greenpeace after 15 years in the leadership? When Greenpeace began we had a strong humanitarian orientation, to save civilization from destruction by all-out nuclear war. Over the years the “peace” in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth. I believe in a humanitarian environmentalism because we are part of nature, not separate from it. The first principle of ecology is that we are all part of the same ecosystem, as Barbara Ward put it, “One human family on spaceship Earth”, and to preach otherwise teaches that the world would be better off without us. Patrick Moore

There were rituals, prayer every night, communal eating, some adults staying at home looking after children while others went to work.

Looking back, it was one of the sweetest memories for me. It was a very secure, loving home with lots of uncles and aunts, and no shortage of cousins to play with. There wasn’t a lot of money, but an abundance of aspiration. – Agnes Loheni

We need to be 90 per cent women. Not 46 per cent women. – Jill Emberson  (speaking on the inequity of funding research for ovarian cancer)

These messages of envy and hopelessness—messages that lead to an insidious victim mentality and that are perpetuated by those who say they care more and are genuinely concerned for the communities I grew up in—lead to an outcome that is infinitely worse than any hard bigot or racist could ever hope to achieve. To take hopes and dreams away from a child through good intentions conflicts with the messages of aspiration, resilience, and compassion that I and my Pasefika community were exposed to as we grew up. That soft bigotry of low expectation is the road to hell laid brick by brick with good intentions.

Hope, resilience, compassion—these are the only messages that have any chance of succeeding and changing our course toward a better New Zealand. These values are not exclusive to my migrant parents; they are New Zealand’s values. They fit hand-in-glove with our Kiwi belief in hard work, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Agnes Loheni

Politics is an odd kind of game that sometimes requires a ruthless self-interest and at others altruistic self-sacrifice. It’s a patchwork of ideals and deals, virtue and vice, gamble and calculation. – Tim  Watkin

Small business would pay the costs, large business would spend thousands avoiding the costs and tax advisors and valuers would have a field day. AndrewHoggard

 There are limits, even to the immodesty of the self-proclaimed First Citizen of the Provinces, the wandering bard with the bag of pūtea, bestowing largesse on the forgotten hamlets of Aotearoa. – Guyon Espiner

Once we recover from our grief, do we slide back into being passively a “good” country? To simply “not be racist” when what is required of us is to be outspoken “anti-racists”? I don’t want thoughts and prayers. What I want to see is bold leadership, standing up and uniting in this message: that hate will not be allowed to take root and triumph here. And to then act on that message. I need us all to be courageous and really look inwards at the fears, judgment and complacence we may have allowed into our hearts, and look outward to demand a change in the conversation. And to be that change. Saziah Bashir

Words matter because when we isolate groups of people who don’t make up the majority of those we see, we turn them into “others”. And when we turn them into others we dehumanise them and make it easier to commit harm against them. – David Cormack

Being right wing to me means believing in free market ideals, open immigration where skills are needed, free trade and access to international markets, as little government intervention as possible and having the best people in your country to help your country become better. It means more opportunity for hard working immigrants. Quite often we ARE those bloody immigrants!

It’s not about closed borders. It’s not about denying people opportunity to build their businesses if they’re hard working and wish to contribute to a country. It’s not about wounding and killing people in places of prayer or on the streets. – Cactus Kate

New Zealand can never succeed, on any measure, by cowering behind a wall. Not just our economic destiny but our national identity depends on us maintaining the sense of adventure that brought us all here and extending manaakitanga to those who want to join us, visit us, do business with us, or take a holiday or study here.

Those of us who believe in these things should no longer reject the term neo-liberal, so often used as abuse, but reclaim it. What is the alternative: to be old conservatives? The political right needs to get back on track. – Matthew Hooton

We are broken-hearted, but we are not broken. We are alive, we are together, we are determined to not let anyone divide us.

To the families of the victims your loved ones did not die in vain, their blood has watered the seeds of hope. – Gamal Fouda

We like to tell our food story and we have terms like market research and consumer behaviour that help us as we pick what to produce and how. Put simply, what we’re really doing is asking what does that person want and how can we make them happy? We’re seeking understanding. We’re listening to people we don’t know as much about. We could use more of that in our everyday lives right now. – Bryan Gibson

Wise politicians pick no unnecessary fights that focus people on differences instead of on values they share.StephenFranks

The way I’ve looked at married life is this – You make your bed, you lay in it.

“You get married and you think everything is a long tar-sealed road that is beautiful.

“And after a few years, you get a few potholes. And if you don’t fix the potholes, they get bigger.

“You have to keep fixing them. – Jack van Zanten

NZ First feels like the stumbling, drunk boyfriend that the cool girl brought to the party. She’s too good for him, and everyone can suddenly see it.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan:

 It was never clear to me whether anyone was doing anything useful or just pretending to do stuff to feel better about ourselves. How do you actually make the world a better place? – Danyl Mclauchlan

Social media and the changed nature of other media have obscured the capacity and need for real conversation. Ideas are not contested civilly, rather people are attacked, falsehoods multiply. Our evolution as social animals required mechanisms for group consensus and group rules. Democracy is a manifestation of that social dynamic and works best when publics are informed not manipulated,and can have a civil contest of worldviews, values and ideas informed by robust evidence. –  Sir Peter Gluckman

I worry there is a drive to sanitise life. When the end gets difficult, we are saying, right, that’s enough, let’s cut it short. There are alternatives. There are other choices to ameliorate suffering of all types. Assisted death is not necessary.

How we die says a lot about our society. Having held a few hands of the dying, I know that those moments are sacred. I didn’t swear the oath of first doing no harm, to then participate in an activity with multiple harmful effects to both the living and the dying.  – Hinemoa Elder

Reasoned communication is the way across the divide of difference. It requires leaving the past and its animosities behind. But this is very difficult. The past gives us a sense of security and belonging. The institutions of modern society which unite us don’t have the same pulling power as the rallying cries of the isms. No wonder ethnic nationalisms, nativisms, and populisms with their ‘us not you’ and ‘our culture not yours’ are winning out. Unexamined belief is more satisfying than reason – and its easier.  – Elizabeth Rata 

People’s wellbeing, even their lives, are at risk while well-meaning people make statements based on inappropriate and flawed research. – Jacqueline Rowarth

Only around 20 per cent of the population lives in the countryside, and decisions are being made about them and for them by predominantly urban people, many of whom have little understanding or empathy for their rural neighbours. – Dr Margaret Brown

Such is the far left’s belief in their own moral superiority that, while they point the finger of blame at others with alacrity, they appear to lack the self-awareness and self-reflection that would lead them to at least wonder whether they themselves are complicit in contributing to a divisive and hateful society. – Juliet Moses

I want to turn to our Māori people, because I believe it is time to switch your political allegiance back to yourself, to your own tino rakatirataka. The political tribalism of saying we only vote for the party is not doing us any favours. You must demand on every politician that walks across your marae ātea that they show you the proof of their commitment to working hard for you before you give them your vote, because talk is cheap, whānau. Actions, ringa raupā—the callused hands—those are what spoke loudly to our conservative tīpuna, and it is time to demand politicians show you their calloused hands, their ringa raupā, as evidence of what they have achieved for you. – Nuk Korako

However, the real danger to meddling in our sound and proven speech laws is that institutions, agencies and interest groups with their own social and political agendas will likely have a disproportionate influence that is not in the national interest. There will be some whose sole intent is to undermine the free speech we already enjoy. – Joss Miller 

It’s easy to take it for granted that we are mostly led by politicians who are motivated to do their best by us; one look around the world today shows us how easily it could be different.

Politics in New Zealand has undoubtedly become more tribal since I started but beneath the rhetoric the differences are really not so great.

I leave here firmly believing there are no good guys or bad guys; the various parties may have different solutions to the same problems but fundamentally there is the same will to solve the problems. – Tracy Watkins

I realised two things that day. I would never, ever, let anyone I cared for enter a life of politics – and that politicians bleed, just like the rest of us. In the years since, I’ve tried to remember the power of words to hurt. – Tracy Watkins

My clear thrust in politics has been around … actually what we’ve just seen in Australia, what ScoMo called the ‘quiet Australians’, they’re here in New Zealand too. All they really want from a government is a strong economy, good public services and for us to get out of the way, and let them get on with their families, and that’s what drives me – Simon Bridges

I don’t think we do anyone any favours by pretending it’s easy, because it isn’t. I don’t think you can have everything all at once. – Linda Clark

It is the private sector that will do the heavy lifting. Nothing will happen unless and until the owners of companies take the decision to invest more, hire more people, and take a risk on economic opportunitySteven Joyce

The more you pay people, the fewer people you can afford to pay. Unless of course you sell more, and you only sell more if people feel good about buying. – Mike Hosking

I am living the way my forefathers lived, who left the footprint for me. It was good enough for my people, for my parents, my grandparents, who bought the house in 1887 – it is a tribute to them. – Margaret Gallagher

If I won the lottery, I would still live here. I am a rural rooted spinster. – Margaret Gallagher

Preachers of tolerance and inclusion must no longer seek to silence and condemn those with opinions that make them uncomfortable but are nevertheless opinions based on another person’s own beliefs and values systems. While we need to stay vigilant and investigate people who post offensive material online, we need to be equally concerned about any move in this House to restrict freedom of speech, a move which has all too often been used by those in power to silence those with differing opinions or ideas. This doctrine, peddled by those who pretend to be progressive, asserts that the mere expression of ideas itself is a limitation on the rights of others. This is preposterous. We must always run the risk of being offended in the effort to afford each citizen their freedom of expression, their freedom to be wrong, and, yes, unfortunately, even nasty. We must let the punishment of those with hateful messages be their own undoing.  Paulo Garcia

 It’s a blunt instrument that doesn’t always work, but parents love and understand their children. They are uniquely placed to make them see sense and not rush off with some jezebel or fall pregnant to some ageing lothario.

Welfare is a merino-covered sledge hammer that smashes these traditional bonds. Teenagers are freed from the financial constraints of their family and can turn to a new parent, the state, who will not judge, lecture, or express disappointment in their life decisions. . .

When you design a system that disenfranchises parents and undermines families you are rewarded with a cohort of lost children and will, in a few short years, find yourself taking babies off teenagers who are unfit to be parents. Damien Grant

Pasture-based New Zealand dairy production is the most carbon efficient dairy farming system in the world. In fact, you can ship a glass of New Zealand milk to the next most efficient country (Ireland) and drink it there and it still has a lower carbon footprint than an equivalent Irish glass of milk. – Nathan Penny

Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences … and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do? Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest.

They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviours will be treated with kindness and compassion. For those “well-behaved” kids – they’re throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it’s safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect. – Jessica Gentry

In a nation like ours, immigration is a kind of oxygen, each fresh wave reenergizing the body as a whole. As a society, when we offer immigrants the gift of opportunity, we receive in return vital fuel for our shared future. – L. Rafael Reif

We should be very wary of underplaying the progress and successes we’ve already made as food producers and custodians of the land.  If we pay too much attention to the critics, it saps motivation and puts more stress on the shoulders of farmers and their families. – Katie Milne

The opportunities in the agri-food sector are endless, even if you live in the city. You just have to be passionate – James Robertson

The choice really is clear. Do we want to be remembered in the future for being the generation that overreacted and spent a fortune feeling good about ourselves but doing very little, subsidising inefficient solar panels and promising slight carbon cuts — or do we want to be remembered for fundamentally helping to fix both climate and all the other challenges facing the world? – Bjorn Lomborg

My starting point for this with public health is very simple, I do not plan to be the moral police, and will not tell people how to live their lives, but I intend to help people get information that forms the basis for making choices. – Sylvi Listhaug

Pastoral agriculture is a pretty simple and slick system. We turn a natural resource that we can’t eat (grass) into something we can eat (meat and milk) with grazing animals. The land we (the world) use to do this is, by and large, not suitable for the production of sugar or the other 40 ingredients needed for cultured meat. Or, for the ingredients required in the less-terrifying, but no-less-processed plant-based “meats”.

Some people can’t stand the thought of an animal being killed for their food. So be it. Let them eat cake… or felafel. But, when it comes to meat, there is no substitute for the simplicity and safety of the real deal. – Nicola Dennis

But at times like this the public more than ever look to the media for impartial coverage. Is it too much to expect that journalists set aside their personal views and concentrate instead on giving people the information they need to properly weigh the conflicting arguments and form their own conclusions? –Karl du Fresne

Governments who are put in place by voters to help those that have been missing out enact policies that ensure those people keep missing out.

And those same Governments store up economic imbalances that bring real risks for our collective future security. All for the sake of short-term policies that appear popular in the here and now. – Steven Joyce

The whole idea of tearing the heart out of a nation’s economy to reduce methane emissions from livestock is an unbelievable display of scientific, technological and economic ignorance. It goes far beyond simply not knowing or being mistaken.  It is profound ignorance compounded by understanding so little it is not even possible to recognise one’s own ignorance which is then made malignant by thinking it must be imposed on everyone else for their own good. – Walter Starck

Everyone that’s being fired and publicly embarrassed about a misdemeanor and being called a Nazi — there are real Nazis who are getting away with it. This must be amazing for real racists to be out there, and going, “It’s all right, everyone’s a racist now, this is a great smokescreen, we’ve got people out there calling people who aren’t Nazis, Nazis. . . . They don’t know the real Nazis from people who said the  wrong thing once!” . . . It plays into the hands of the genuinely bad people. – Ricky Gervais

I get the equality movement – it’s valid and important. But I also know the dangers, firsthand, that mindset can play if we encourage everyone to see themselves as the same, instead of embrace the differences God intentionally created us with.

I have been more successful as a professional, a wife and a friend once I learned to embrace myself as different, not equal.  – Kate Lambert

The creation of wealth should not be confused with the creation of money and the amount of money in circulation at any given point. – Henry Armstrong

For me, it was South Island farmer Sean Portegys who articulated best what so many farmers are feeling – he told me that in a drought, you don’t despair because it’s always going to rain. In a snowstorm, the sun will come out eventually. When prices are bad, and he said they’d just gone through a rough patch a few years ago, it’s always going to come right eventually. The problem is now, he said, the situation that farmers are facing is a lack of hope. He says he just doesn’t see a future in what he’s doing. And if farmers don’t see a future, then the future of New Zealand Inc looks bleak. –  Kerre McIvor

The problem is, if you propose a set of rules that are unachievable you don’t get community buy-in and if you don’t get community buy-in, you don’t actually make any progress,- David Clark

There are no perfect human societies or human systems or human beings.  But that shouldn’t stop us celebrating our past, our heritage, our culture –  the things that, by opening to the world, made this country, for all its faults and failings and relative economic decline in recent decades, one of the more prosperous and safe countries on earth. – Michael Reddell

The productivity commission says – in a much nicer way than this – that most councillors are a bunch of useless numpties with no understanding of governance of finance, and so really aren’t capable of handling the big stuff. – Tina Nixon

If you cannot even state an opponent’s position in order to illustrate the benefit of arguing with that opponent, then free speech is over. Because no dialogue then is possible. Professor Jim Flynn

Freedom of speech is important because it is a contest of ideas.

When you forbid certain ideas, the only way you can be effective is by being more powerful. So it becomes a contest of strength. If you shut ’em up, not only does that make it a matter of `might makes right’, you haven’t proved that your views are more defensible, you’ve just proved that you are stronger. Further, that must be the worst formula for finding truth that’s ever been invented. It’s either a contest of ideas or a contest of strength. Professor Jim Flynn

 A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people. And a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, cancelling or blacklisting their own neighbours. Professor Jim Flynn

People have to grow up. Being educated is getting used to hearing ideas that upset you. – Professor Jim Flynn

I see precautionary investment against climate change as equivalent in political decision-making, to expenditure on defence. Both require spending for highly uncertain benefit. No one can know whether we genuinely have an enemy who will attack. No one can know if our precautions will be effective. Hopefully the investment will be untested. We can’t know until afterwards whether it is wasted. Yet it is rational to try, because the catastrophe could be so overwhelming if the risk matures without resilience or mitigation precautions.

But such investment remains foolish if it is unlikely reduce CO2 levels materially, or to improve New Zealand’s ability to cope if change happens nevertheless. Given NZ’s inability to affect the first, an insurance investment should focus primarily on resilience. The Zero Carbon Bill does neither. So my government is wasting the elite political consensus that ‘something must be done”. Instead they’re conspicuously trumpeting their “belief” in climate change, and their intentions to act. If the law is enforced it will likely increase emissions overseas, and not influence foreign governments to mitigate the risk, who can affect the outcome. – Stephen Franks

The brute facts of New Zealand history suggest that if it’s blame Maori and Pakeha are looking for, then there’s plenty to go around. Rather than apportion guilt, would it not be wiser to accept that the Pakeha of 2019 are not – and never will be – “Europeans”? Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before Cook’s arrival. Would it not, therefore, be wiser to accept, finally, that both peoples are victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt?Chris Trotter

As I have gone through my horrible journey, I have realised why ovarian cancer support doesn’t gain the kind of traction that breast cancer does. It is because we are small in number, and we die really quickly, so we don’t have the capacity to build up an army of advocates. With breast cancer, there is a lot more women who get it, therefore they can build and build their army of advocates and they are able to raise more money, get more research, and get better outcomes, so they live longer. We need the support of breast cancer survivors. We need them to link arms with us to grow our army for ovarian cancer, which will then help us get more funding fairness. Funding leads to research, and research leads to longer lives. – Jill  Emberson

This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting with may love their kids and share certain things with you. – Barack Obama

I can’t make people not afraid of black people. But maybe if I show up every day as a human, a good human, maybe that work will pick away at the scabs of your discrimination. –Michelle Obama

In South Africa, pressure is not having a job or if one of your close relatives is murdered. In South Africa there are a lot of problems, which is pressure. – Rassie Erasmus

We shouldn’t subsidise the smelter.  Rather we should stop forcing Southlanders to subsidise Aucklanders.  We should also revert to a more gradual water plan that gives farmers time to adapt, and we should let Southland retain control of SIT.  Then we should get out of the way and let the sensible practical Southlanders get on with making a success of their province. – Steven Joyce

All of us face trials and tribulations. No-one always wins, in the end we all lose. We lose friends, marriages, money, get anxious, our bodies break down, our minds go, and then we die. Isn’t life great?

But actually, isn’t living also a lot of highs? Births, marriages, beaches, trips abroad, friends, sporting victories, pets, pay increases, leaves sprouting in spring, fish and chips on a sunny day. – Kevin Norquay

You’ve got to come up with some kind of middle ground where you do reasonable things to mitigate the risk and try at the same time to lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient. We shouldn’t be forced to choose between lifting people out of poverty and doing something for the climate. Kerry Emanuel

Knowledge in long-term memory is not a nice-to-have. Rather, it is an integral part of mental processing without which our working memories (which can hold only about four items at a time) become quickly overloaded. – Briar Lipson

None of it convinces me from my position that there is no “I” in meat but if you look closely you will find the words me and eat.  That should be good enough to convince tree huggers and hippies that they should be switching back to natural. – Cactus Kate

It [managerialism] undermines the ability of state services to help citizens, but empowers it to infantilise us.

We’re discouraged from acting on our own, and forced to bow to experts. Yet systems and fancy talk prevent experts taking substantive action for fear of career, safety, or arbitrary consequences for taking the “wrong” action. In these environments, there are no career prospects for heroes.  Mark Blackham

It used to be that people joined the Labour Party to make their lives better off. Now they join to make someone else’s life better off. – Josie Pagani

If all the new Tory voters wanted was more from the state and more lecturing on how to live their lives, they would have voted for Labour. These voters want a hand up, not a handout. If you give people things and make them reliant upon the state then next time they will vote for those who will give them more things. – Matthew Lesh

. . .It matters because the still-cherished principles of secular humanism, which continue to inspire the multitude of moral arbiters who police social media, come with provenance papers tracing them all the way back to a peculiar collection of Jews and Gentiles living and writing in the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago. Ordinary human-beings who gathered to hear and repeat the words of a carpenter’s son: the Galilean rabbi, Yeshua Ben-Joseph. Words that still constitute the core of the what remains the world’s largest religious faith –  Christianity.

It matters, also, because, to paraphrase Robert Harris, writing in his latest, terrifying, novel The Second Sleep: when morality loses its power, power loses its morality. Chris Trotter

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas DayJim Hopkins


Less quality more quantity less delivered

December 17, 2019

We’re spending more but have nothing to show for. This is Steven Joyce’s view and as a former Finance Minister he knows what he’s talking about:

Many of us have friends or family members that just “aren’t good with money”.

They earn a good income but somehow it all slips through their fingers and they never have anything to show for it except a maxxed out credit card.

This government is starting to look like one of those friends.

It’s not like they don’t have a good income, courtesy of the tax we all pay. The Government’s half-yearly update this week shows that by 2022 they’ll have collected at least $10 billion more tax than was predicted by Treasury before the last election.

Unfortunately, they are spending it even faster. The amount they are going to spend across the four years to 2022, according to official government numbers, is now $19b more than was in their own fiscal plan prior to the election. Alert readers will recall much wailing and gnashing of teeth when someone had the temerity to suggest they would spend $11b more than their own plan. We are now well past that point.  

This government fell into the $11b hole and they’re making it bigger.

Debt is now predicted to top out at $78b, as against the $68b they predicted at election time two years ago, and an expected surplus of $6b for the current year is now projected to be a deficit.

All this wouldn’t be so bad if the government had something to show for it. But just like our friend with the big spending habit, it seems to have all slipped through their fingers.  

More and better infrastructure, health, education, housing, fewer people on welfare, fewer in poverty . . .  would be something to show for their big spending but that’s not what they’ve delivered.

All the key performance indicators that measure the effectiveness of government spending are currently going backwards. State Housing wait lists, poverty numbers and numbers on welfare are all growing. The big hospital metrics like emergency wait times and elective surgery numbers are deteriorating. The performance of our kids in school relative to the rest of the world is continuing to decline, and tertiary enrolments are down despite a year’s free tuition. There has also been no discernible economic uplift in regional New Zealand to match the government’s fine rhetoric, beyond what was already occurring.

Just about every primary sector except strong wool is enjoying good to better returns. That ought to be flowing through the regions but in spite of that and the Regional Growth Fund, the regions aren’t booming.

So it’s perhaps not surprising this week that the government tried the “look over here” tactic to distract everyone from the deteriorating state of the government books.

We are to have an infrastructure splurge – which in itself will apparently help the Treasury’s increasingly modest growth predictions be achieved.

No-one, except the anti-road dark greens, is questioning the need for more roads but there’s a big but.

Let’s be under no illusion as to how quickly the infrastructure pipeline has been run down. There are currently eleven major roading projects, all started before 2017, that are building 120km of new and upgraded four lane highways around this country. Nine of them are due to finish before the end of next year.  

From that point in time there is literally nothing, no large new road projects, rail projects, or anything else to replace them. All of the big projects in the queue have been stopped, slowed down, or postponed because “we shouldn’t be building new roads” and we’re not ready to build anything else.The civil contracting industry has been tearing its hair out worrying about what to do with its workforce.

Twice in recent weeks people in roading have told me they’re running out of work and some in the industry have already cut staff.

The problem will be how to ramp that infrastructure pipeline up quickly again. The Government finally acknowledged this week that NZTA has been pretty good at building stuff, but that was before the same government took multiple billions out of the forward roading budget, unfairly shamed the agency over the Auckland tram fiasco, made key personnel changes, and operated a revolving door into and out of its boardroom.  Treasury seems to acknowledge this issue, by projecting the government will get little more than a third of their new $12b spend out the door by the middle of 2022.

Another challenge will be to build the right infrastructure, stuff that improves economic efficiency rather than damaging it. A useful hint is to invest in more of the infrastructure that people already use, like commuter rail and busy road corridors, and not the stuff that requires heroic assumptions about bending the world to suit your world view. Flights of fancy about far-away ports and returning to a time when 70 per cent of freight travelling by rail are examples of what not to invest billions in.

Rail is good for getting some things from A to B but it covers only a very small part of the country and a lot of goods are more efficiently transported by road.

More broadly the government must start demanding some accountability for all the billions of extra spending it is doing. The absence of any tangible results from all this spending is another brake on our prosperity, and the amount of wastage going on is insulting to hard-working kiwis paying their taxes.

Most of those people would surely prefer to pay less tax to take the pressure off their own family budgets, rather than having to watch their spendthrift friend without a care in the world max out New Zealand’s credit card and have nothing to show for it.  

Letting people keep more of their own money would be better than handing it to this government to waste.

New Zealanders worked very hard to restore the country’s fiscal position following the global financial crisis. We shouldn’t be frittering all those gains away.

The previous National government put a high priority on the quality of the spend rather than the quantity because more spending is not necessarily better spending.

This one has gone for quantity rather than quality.

As a result of that it hasn’t been able to deliver on its promises, we’re all worse off because of that and it’s the poor this government purports to want to help who are paying the biggest price for that.


Subsidies begat subsidies

November 5, 2019

Why is the south subsidising power delivery to the north? Steven Joyce opines:

I hold no brief for Rio Tinto or its aluminium smelter but I am a fan of Southland, and I don’t think Southland is getting a fair deal.

It’s worse than that.  Southland looks like it might be getting lined up for the “Taranaki Treatment” from the government.

Rio Tinto is once again reviewing the future of the smelter, which directly and indirectly, pays the wage packets of about 3,500 people in a region of roughly 100,000. . .

That’s a lot of jobs and there will be more in businesses which service and supply the smelter and it’s staff, but that by itself isn’t a justification for subsidising Rio Tinto. But there’s a but:

But actually they have a legitimate point – or at least, the people of Southland do.  People and businesses in Southland, including the smelter, pay too much to get their electricity delivered to them.  More correctly they subsidise the delivery of electricity to everyone else, and they are sick of doing it.

The lower South Island produces much of New Zealand’s power, and at the lowest cost, but they see no benefit from having the big hydro power stations in their neighbourhood.  Electricity is expensive to shift around so it should make sense to set up your business near a power station, but it’s not because electricity transmission costs are currently averaged across the country.

If you live over the road in Te Anau from New Zealand’s biggest power station, you are not just paying to have your power delivered to you, you are paying to get it delivered to people in Auckland, 1700 kilometres away on a whole other island.

Given the loss of energy and cost of sending power so far that doesn’t stack up environmentally or financially.

And as Auckland grows, it needs more power. Transpower, which runs New Zealand’s electricity grid, has spent several billion dollars over the last decade upgrading their network and keeping the lights on, much of it for the benefit of Aucklanders.

 And Southland people and the smelter have been paying for a lot of that.  

And we’ve all been paying for the subsidy to Rio Tinto because the south is subsidising the north’s power.

The previous government put together a new Electricity Authority to, amongst other things, sort out a fairer price for electricity transmission. It’s taken a while because it’s controversial.

In 2016 the authority put up a fair proposal that would have saved Southlanders a lot of money. The smelter would pay around $20 million a year less than it does now in transmission charges, and other Southland power users would get a commensurate reduction.

That would be better for the company and other southerners than subsidising the smelter.

But people in Auckland and Northland who would pay a bit more kicked up a big public fuss and so did politicians, including New Zealand First.  The Authority went away to check its sums again. It has now come up with another, watered down plan. It still improves things for Southland, but only about half the amount as previously.  And its still a few years away from coming in.

Tanspower should not have bowed to political pressure to change it’s  mind about people paying the trues cost of power just because for once the south would gain and the north would lose.

So it’s not surprising the smelter is getting antsy, or anybody else in the deep south. Southlanders pay higher petrol prices because the population is smaller and there is less competition.  They pay higher electricity prices because they are subsidising getting power delivered to Auckland.

On energy costs they never win. And they risk large industries leaving – industries that should be attracted to their part of the country because of the abundant cheap electricity that is generated there.

Thanks to the mnemonic Love Many Fat Royal People Today I can still    recite the factors affecting the location of industry – Labour, markets, finance, raw materials, power and transport.

The market in the south is smaller, but if you’re exporting that, and transport are not a big consideration. Finance is mobile, the south has plenty of Labour so it’s just subsidised power that makes the north more attractive.

If the south wasn’t subsidising the north’s power at least some   of the businesses which locate in Auckland, would choose somewhere nearer where the power is generated instead?

That would have the added bonus of slowing Auckland’s growth.

Meanwhile the trendies in Auckland and Wellington opine that we’d be better off without the smelter anyway for all sorts of thinly argued environmental reasons. Of course it’s not their lives that would be up-ended if it goes.

All this is grimly familiar to Taranaki people, who have had one of their largest highest-paying industries sacrificed on a Greenpeace-inspired oil and gas ban that is now generally accepted will do absolutely nothing to reduce climate change. Because of the complex interplay between coal, gas and electricity, it may be making things worse. It’s certainly lifting gas and power prices.

And it is not just industry that is at risk in Taranaki and Southland. There was news out this week that the aggressive new water policy the Government wants to impose on food producers will disproportionately affect people and economies in places like Taranaki and Southland. . .

Our self-styled champion of the provinces might be a bit miffed that provincial people don’t show appropriate levels of political adulation when he shows up with the taxpayers’ cheque book and sprays $10m here and $10m there. The truth is his largesse is poor consolation for the damage other things are doing to the economic prospects of regions like Southland

We shouldn’t subsidise the smelter. Rather we should stop forcing Southlanders to subsidise Aucklanders. 

We should also revert to a more gradual water plan that gives farmers time to adapt, and we should let Southland retain control of SIT. Then we should get out of the way and let the sensible practical Southlanders get on with making a success of their province.

This illustrates how subsidies begat subsidies.

If transmission costs were levied where they fell, Rio Tinto would have cheaper power without subsidies and the rest of the south would also save on their energy bills.

 

 


3/5s of not very much

September 23, 2019

Steven Joyce gives the government some much-needed advice:

It was confirmed this week that New Zealand is now running at little more than half speed.

From growing at rates of 3½ to 4 per cent three years ago our economy at the end of June was only 2.1 per cent larger than it was the previous June.

That’s a problem firstly because our population is growing at about 1.6 per cent a year, so if our economy grows at 2 per cent then the amount of additional wellbeing per person (to coin a phrase) is three fifths of not very much.

Not very much is far less than we need for economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing.

The second problem is that our terms of trade (the prices of our exports versus our imports) are still very strong so we should still be cranking along. It’s a problem if we are slowing down when the world really wants to buy what we are selling. What happens if the world actually falls out of bed?

What happens is recession and maybe even depression.

The government has been quick to blame the world economy for our lower growth rate this week, but our terms of trade put the lie to that.

The third problem is that there is no sign of anything on the horizon that will lead to much of an upturn, and in fact all the signs are that we are going to slow further. Our businesses are in a funk because of what is known as regulatory overhang. In short, they are too fearful to invest because the government is making lots of rule changes that could mean they don’t get much of a return for the risk they take.

It’s not just farmers, other businesses are too scared to invest.

The government for its part seems inclined to shrug its shoulders and say “nothing to see here”. They observe we are still growing (slightly) faster than Australia so what’s the problem? That story is likely to change in the next six months as Australia’s tax cuts come through and their housing market picks up. Anyway weren’t we trying to grow a lot faster than Australia so we could close the income gap with our cousins across the Tasman – what happened to that ambition?

This government has no ambition for growth, only for regulate, tax and spend.

The fourth problem is that lower growth means less to go around. If we were still growing as fast as we were then in real terms our economy would be around $5 billion bigger this year than it is. That means more money for higher pay and more jobs, and of course about 30 per cent of it goes into the government coffers – which would pay for a lot more cancer drugs, teachers or electric vehicle subsidies.

How hard is it to join the dots between higher growth and more for essential services and infrastructure?

So what to do? Well if I could offer some gratuitous advice to the Finance Minister I think he should be working on baking a bigger cake, and I think the recipe is pretty straightforward. Its time to rein in some of his ministerial colleagues who are wreaking havoc with business confidence.

For example he should suggest the Minister of Immigration sort out his portfolio so that horticulturists can find seasonal workers and the international education sector can get up off its knees. He should tell the Minister for the Environment to come up with a more reasonable plan for water quality improvements and methane emissions reductions so farmers step back from the cliff edge, and the Minister of Education to stop stuffing about with the apprenticeship system.

He should encourage the Reserve Bank Governor to be less heroic on bank capital requirements, persuade his colleagues to do a backtrack on gas exploration now it is proven the ban is simply value destroying and does nothing for climate change, overrule the Greens to permit some gold mining, and stop taxing tourists more so the tourism sector starts growing again. He should cancel the return to industry-wide pay bargaining given that NZ First are never going to vote for it anyway, tell the Transport Minister to get on with building at least some of the stalled roading projects, particularly given that light rail is years away, and reverse at least one of the petrol tax increases.

Then he could watch the economy recover and start thinking about how he’s going to allocate the increased government revenues. And New Zealand will be in much better shape if the world economy does get worse. . .

He won’t of course and nor will he see that it’s the poor and the struggling middle that will be hurt the hardest by policies which hamper growth.


Regions lose with central control

August 2, 2019

The government is centralising vocational education, merging 16 technology institutes and polytechnics into one:

Former Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce warns of the risks in this move:

. .  .Leaving aside the issue of transferring the control of hundreds and hundreds of millions of assets out of regional New Zealand to Wellington, there are huge risks in the proposal. Across the Tasman, New South Wales has just done something similar, merging its 16-odd TAFEs (polytechs) into one NSW-wide TAFE, and it is a cautionary tale. The merged entity lost $30 million in its first year, blowing out to $240m in its second. It’s now in the process of further reform.

Yes, many New Zealand polytechnics are currently struggling, but that’s not unique to this country. When employment is high, vocationally-minded people tend to get into work ahead of going to polytech, and roll numbers drop. It’s been made worse here by the sudden squeeze on international enrolments caused by government immigration policy which is contributing to a perfect storm of red ink.

Interestingly however, well-run polytechnics like SIT in Southland, Otago, and the Eastern Institute of Technology in the North Island, have continued to perform and make surpluses. A few board overhauls and the odd regional merger, plus a bit more tuition funding, would do wonders for the others and retain their local focus – and be much less risky.

The government’s prescription is radical surgery when much less drastic medicine could solve the problems at a much lower cost in both money and jobs:

The Government’s polytechnic and industry announcement today will cost thousands of jobs and may be the death knell for some polytechnics, National’s spokesperson for Tertiary Education Dr Shane Reti says.

“Moving apprentices back to polytechnics and creating one mega polytechnic will cost at least 1300 jobs in industry and probably as much again in polytechnics.

“Employers are telling us they will cease to employ apprentices next year if apprentices go back to polytechnics. This is a big step backwards especially when our construction sector is crying out for apprentices.

“The Government has brutally dismissed the concerns of industry and businesses who raised serious issues with polytechnic training. Industry understands the needs of industry best and who will be the best fit for them, but Mr Hipkins is blatantly ignoring them.

“Now the Minister is turning his axe to polytechnics. Under these reforms well performing polytechnics from the Southern Institute of Technology to Otago Polytechnic will lose the very essence of their successful and innovative local decision making.

“The reforms dissolve polytechnics into hollow and meaningless ‘legacy’ polytechnics. This ideology will destroy tradition, decimate organisational knowledge and the final indignity will be the mega polytechnic spending community gifted cash and assets.

“This is devastating for polytechnics and their staff and students.

“Every aspect of the vocational education sector is under attack. Apprentices are being sent back to polytechnics, polytechnics are being amalgamated into legacy campuses, jobs are being lost, cash and community assets will be ring-fenced and regional autonomy is being stripped away.

“These reforms will be disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships. Mr Hipkins is pushing ahead with ideology over what is best for students and regional New Zealand.

“National will empower the regions to make decisions around what they teach, where they teach and how they teach. We will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to communities. We will return apprentices to industry.

“National supports apprentices and regional polytechnics and we will fight for their voice and autonomy in these ideological educational reforms.”

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt said the city will fight to save The Southern Institute of Technology:

Invercargill leaders have vowed to fight a Government decision to centralise the Southern Institute of Technology [SIT] with 15 other polytechnics and training institutes nationwide.

Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he was in “absolute disbelief they could do such a terrible thing to our city” and said legal action would be taken against the decision.

“They have really ripped the heart out of Invercargill with this announcement.”

The proposal also threatens the future of Telford Farm Training Institute:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said the announcement was incredibly disappointing and raised uncertainty for Telford’s future.

“Today’s announcement of the Government’s reform of vocational education through the centralisation of polytechs is another blow to rural and regional New Zealand. 

“It is the people in regions who know the needs of their people best, not a long list of public servants in Wellington.”

Community assets would be taken away, decision-making powers would be lost and as a result, Telford would be disadvantaged, he said.

“Telford’s long-term proposal was turned down because of this reform which will now cause further damage to Clutha-Southland and its workforce.”

“This creates further uncertainty for staff and students at Telford who have already been through enough.” . . 

Successful organisations like SIT and Otago Polytech could have been used as a model for other institutions that were floundering.

Instead the successful are being sacrificed because of others’ failures and the regions lose autonomy to central control.


It’s only words

May 31, 2019

Has any government not put money into policies which aim to improve wellbeing?

I can’t think of a single one that hasn’t put considerable amounts into   health, education, welfare, infrastructure . . . any and all of the areas that impact on and contribute to wellbeing.

Just two years ago, then Finance Minister Steven Joyce said:

. . .This budget is about delivering more of the public services, the infrastructure, the resilience, and the incomes that New Zealanders need to get ahead and to provide for their families.

This budget is about the opportunity we have to build on the platform we have all created and deliver greater prosperity for New Zealanders. . .

This Government is focused on helping our most vulnerable people lead more successful lives. . . 

Initiatives included helping people move from benefits to work, improving safety of victims of family violence, investment in social housing, funding for caregiver support and social initiatives aimed at tackling long-term issues for the most vulnerable.

It included measures to help children get a better start in live and there was a significant increase in mental health funding..

Social investment is about tackling our most challenging social issues. The combination of these new initiatives and the Government’s decisions about family incomes will allow us to make serious headway with some of the longer-term challenges faced by the most vulnerable New Zealanders. . . 

He concluded:

This budget is all about “Delivering for New Zealanders”.

It takes four significant steps to bring the benefits of a stronger economy to all New Zealanders. It makes a big investment in public services, it makes a record investment in new infrastructure, it improves the resilience of our country to future shocks, and it strengthens families by lifting their incomes.

It’s important that we remember that the only reason we get to have this conversation is because we have a strong and growing economy built on a strong economic plan.

We must maintain our focus on growing the economy and sticking to the plan.

It is only by doing that, that we can provide for the prosperity of all New Zealanders.

What a contrast between the former government’s careful management and understanding that economic growth is essential to support social initiatives and the current one which is very good at soft words that seek to disguise a slowing economy.

The debate continued and then-PM BIll English spoke:

. . .We are unashamedly addressing the hard core of New Zealand’s longest-run social problems, and in this Budget there are 14 initiatives that do that. I want to pay tribute to public servants who, I know, find it difficult to fit the model. It creates a lot of tension and sometimes a bit of frustration, but we are making some progress because what is the point of having a Government if it cannot deal with the most complex, the most vulnerable, . . 

The previous government called it social investment. Its words were backed up by policies that were working to improve lives and sustainably funded by a growing economy. .

This government calls it wellbeing and so far it’s only words. If it’s going to be more than words and to make a significant and positive difference it will have to do a lot better on delivering, not just on its promises but on economic growth too, than it has to date.

The projected surplus next year is only $1.4 billion. That’s a big number but not in the context of government spending.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges points out:

. . . The Prime Minister boasts in her press release that growth is forecast to average 2.6 per cent over the next four years, under the National Government growth was 4 per cent. This Government simply can’t be trusted with the economy. 

“NZ First has once again shown that it holds the purse strings with today’s announcements of a billion on rail that nobody wants and even more for forestry. That’s on top of Shane Jones’ billion dollar slush fund and the billion dollars already promised for trees. The cost of this coalition is not worth it for New Zealanders with what they’re getting in return, and it certainly isn’t improving anyone’s wellbeing.

“It’s no wonder Grant Robertson has had to drop his self-imposed debt target and increase the spending limit by $17 billion so he can fund the Government’s bad spending decisions. Surpluses are forecast to be billions of dollars lower than they were just a few months ago. . . 

Changing the language doesn’t change the fact that wellbeing can only be built on a strong and growing economic foundation.

 


Micro matters not minor matters

September 11, 2018

BusinessNZ says the Employment Relations Amendment Bill is harmful and oppressive:

None of the provisions that most concern business have been removed by the select committee considering the Bill. . .

55% of submissions were against the Bill and thousands of emails sent to Parliamentarians by concerned businesses. EMA, Business Central, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers’ Association ran a high-profile campaign asking the Government to explain the reasoning for the Bill’s harmful provisions.

“Given current low levels of business confidence, especially among small business, it is unfortunate that the Government has neither listened nor explained its justification for the Bill.

Low business confidence is not political pique. It’s based on genuine concern about policy like this which will make it more difficult, and expensive, to run a business.

“Business cannot support this Bill and will be making our position clear as this Bill progresses through Parliament.

“BusinessNZ is also considering pursuing a claim to the International Labour Organisation or International Court of Justice on parts of the Bill which are contrary to international law.

“Business strongly objects to this Bill’s ability to harm employment relations, jobs and commercial value in New Zealand enterprises.”

The EMA is bitterly disappointed no heed was paid to concerns raised:

The EMA, along with its fellow regional associations, actively lobbied and campaigned for four key areas to be modified as it believed these will not deliver to the Government’s stated aims of a high wage and high performing economy, nor help businesses to be more productive. The joint Fix The Bill campaign resulted in at least 2254 emails being sent to Government MPs seeking clarification on how the changes will help their business succeed.

The four aspects of the Bill that were particularly worrying for business were:

– Employers with 20 employees or more will lose the right to include 90-day-trial periods in employment agreements. However, findings from a nationwide survey of employers found that the 90-day trial periods were useful for businesses of all sizes, to give prospective employees a chance.

A trial period is not just good for employers, it’s good for other employees. If a new worker isn’t up to scratch it impacts badly on workmates.

– Businesses will be forced to settle collective agreements, even if they don’t or can’t agree

And even if they can’t afford them.

– Allowing union representatives access to workplaces without permission

Any access, any time is not conducive to productivity.

– Not allowing businesses a choice to opt out of a multi-employer collective agreement (MECA)

This will not only means saddle businesses with agreements they can’t afford, it will stop a business offering staff better pay and conditions.

With more than 50% of New Zealand businesses employing fewer than 100 staff, the EMA is deeply worried the changes in the Bill combined with the raft of other legislation in the pipeline will unduly burden smaller operators.

Furthermore, despite rhetoric from Government that it is listening to business, this is a tangible example that ideology rather than solid public policy driving decisions and does not bode well for business going forward.

Throughout this process the EMA has been puzzled by how any of the proposed changes to the industrial relations framework will take the country forward in terms of the Government’s goal of developing a modern, nimble and high performing economy.

Taking industrial relations back to the 1970s will not take the country forward and it will harm rather than help the economy.

Steven Joyce writes:*

. . .Economic policy is in fact a three-legged stool, fiscal policy, monetary policy, and microeconomic policy. You can’t successfully operate an economy, especially a small one like New Zealand, without all three working together.

Microeconomics is everything that operates at the firm level in the economy – all the regulations and policy settings that impact directly on businesses. These are things like employment law, immigration settings, competition law, resource allocation, innovation settings, tax policy and the government’s investment in infrastructure.

It is microeconomics that drives much of firms’ actual operating conditions. Along with interest rates and exchanges rates, it is access to capital, skilled people, resources, markets, the necessary infrastructure and importantly the consistency of those settings, that tell the owners of businesses that it is a good time to invest and grow their business.

If you start playing with those settings in an arbitrary way while ignoring the economic consequences of those changes, then firms will simply stop investing. They’ll either wait until there is more certainty, or not invest at all. . .

Microeconomic matters, including employment relations legislation, are not minor matters.

They have a huge influence on the business environment and economy.

Any changes which add to the complexities and risk of employing people will have the opposite affect from the government’s stated aim of developing a modern, nimble and high performing economy.

But this legislation shows that this aim comes a very poor second to Labour’s need to pay back unions for their financial and personal support.

The legislation will be good for unions but not the whose interests they purport to represent nor for the businesses which employ them.

* Hat tip: Kiwiblog


In fiscal hole and still digging

August 10, 2018

Economist Cameron Bagrie has found a hole in the fiscal bucket:

Steven Joyce is going to be proved right. There is a fiscal hole and a softening economy is making it wider.

I don’t like the term fiscal hole. Good policy should dominate over strict debt targets and economic cycles come and go which are often beyond government control.

But the Labour-led Government’s fiscal hole is looking deeper by the day – and bigger than the $11.7 billion of additional borrowing that Joyce identified. . .

Growth is weaker, the Government is already borrowing creatively to the tune of $6.4 billion via Crown entities (keeping it out of core government net debt metrics) and spending demands are headed one way.

That combination will pressure its fiscal position.  . .

The lack of money left in the kitty post the 2018-Budget raised issues of credibility, but the fiscal parameters were technically achievable.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but it was possible, so the Government was given the benefit of the doubt.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt was a mistake given their record, policies and the knowledge that coalition partners would add to costs.

But the picture is changing and the Government’s ambitions are looking more and more like pipe dreams.

So, what has changed?

Budget spending and investment demands needed funding, whilst at the same time sticking to the narrative of hitting debt objectives and being fiscally responsible.

The result was crown entities borrowing an additional $6.4 billion between 2017 and 2022.

That is an accounting fudge to get it out of the core Government debt figures.

Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Public sector pay and spending demands are only heading one way.

Few bemoan the need to pay teachers and nurses more but that money needs to come from somewhere.

The realities of a coalition Government meant more needed to be spent. Spending allocations in the 2019 and subsequent Budgets were increased by $525 million to $2.4b per year.

That looked fine against a backdrop of solid projections for growth. But it was a risky strategy with the economy late cycle as opposed to early cycle.

The government can’t be held responsible for external problems but they can be blamed for not taking a more prudent approach given clouds gathering on the economic horizon.

They can also be blamed for wasting money on fripperies like fee-free tertiary education and good looking horses without leaving enough for necessities like improved pay and conditions for nurses and teachers.

They’ve dug the hole and there is nothing in their performance that could give any confidence in their ability to get out of it especially as they are still digging.


Pressure proves Steven Joyce right

July 25, 2018

Labour is under pressure to increase its self-imposed debt limit to address wage claims and social spending requests.

That pressure proves former Finance Minister Steven Joyce was right when he said Labour’s pre-election budget had several billion dollar holes in it.

Those holes were where the money for pay increases for health professionals, teachers, police and other public servants should have been.

The pay offer to nurses sounds generous, but as they keep saying they don’t just want more pay, they want better conditions.

. . . Some nurses have talked about being rostered on for three days a week, but working on average 80-86 hours a fortnight.

Being called back in on days off is a regular occurrence, and rosters often have blank spaces left while managers look for nurses to fill the gaps.

The most recent pay offer brought forward $38 million of new funding to provide immediate relief for staffing and workload issues, but was seemingly viewed as being too little, too late.

The strike vote shows the depths of anger in the rank-and-file – if it was underestimated beforehand, it cannot be now.

Striking nurses have two demands – to be paid more, and to be valued. . . 

Teachers who are poised to strike too are also wanting not just more pay but better support.

. . .They are negotiating on teacher and principal pay, but also on workload and things like special education needs co-ordinators.

“There’s a real depth of feeling out there. The whole issue around workload is very, very significant and that’s come through very, very strongly.” . .

While the public isn’t enamoured of strikes, nurses and teachers do have widespread sympathy and have valid questions about why there’s no more money for them.

Labour set its debt target to show that it could be fiscally responsible but the government it leads has already failed at that.

Billions have been wasted on fripperies leaving holes where funds for better pay and conditions for nurses and teachers should be.

And every time they say there’s no more money, they’ll be asked: how can there be enough for fee-free tertiary education and the regional slush fund but not enough for health and education professionals?

Just like Labour of old and previous governments it’s led, this one is making a fuss about how much they spend with little or no attention to how well they’re spending.

It’s quantity over quality, what they spend not what it achieves, and with every mis-spent cent they’re proving the former Finance Minister right.

 


Almost spent the lot

June 25, 2018

Nurses and health boards are continuing to negotiate improved pay and conditions in an effort to avoid strikes.

Last-ditch talks between the nurses’ union and district health boards (DHBs) will continue on Monday in a bid to avoid planned strike action.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) and DHBs’ negotiating teams attended mediation on Friday after nurses “strongly rejected” the DHBs’ latest offer on Monday.

The NZNO issued strike notice to the DHBs on Wednesday for July 5, with notice of a second 24-hour strike planned for July 12 likely to be issued next week. . . 

A survey sent to NZNO members on Monday to gauge their priorities for any revised deal had received close to 13,000 responses a day before it closed at 1pm on Thursday.

A message sent to union member’s said their feedback had helped negotiators be “very clear on what your priority issues are and what will be required on order to avert strike action and resolve this dispute”.

The three main priorities were remuneration, safe staffing and pay equity.

However, whether the first nationwide nurses’ strike since 1989 can be averted remains to be seen.

Nurses on Monday “strongly rejected” the DHBs’ latest collective offer, a $520 million package described by Health Minister David Clark as the best in a decade. . .

A $520 million package sounds generous but there would be $275 million more this year had they not wasted it on free fees for tertiary students, nearly $40 million of which will be spent on students who fail to complete their first year.

It would be difficult to find anyone who thinks spending millions on students who don’t need help is a greater priority than  improving pay and conditions for nurses.

Teachers are lining up for more pay and better conditions too and it would be equally difficult to find anyone who thinks that wouldn’t be a higher priority than fee-free tertiary study.

The free-fee policy is just one of several expensive policies. Another is the winter power payment for beneficiaries, some of which will go to wealthy retirees. These are extravagances that Labour and its coalition partners have put ahead of funding necessities.

Then-National Finance Minister Steven Joyce was laughed at when he said there was a big hole in Labour’s pre-election spending calculations and that they hadn’t factored in pay increases for public servants.

The trouble the government now has finding enough to satisfy nurses shows he was right.

Remember how Michael Cullen boasted they’d spent the lot after his last Budget in 2008?

The current government has almost spent the lot already if it wants to keep to the budgetary constraints it’s imposed upon itself to counter accusations it’s a poor manager of money.

Cullen left power with the new government facing a decade of deficits.

By contrast the current government came to power with forecasts of continuing strong surpluses.

They could have spent wisely, factoring in the need for fair increases to give nurses and teachers much better pay and conditions.

Instead they’ve wasted money on fripperies like the fee-free tertiary study and power payments for wealthy people and left far too little for basics like improved pay and conditions for nurses and teachers.


Steven Joyce’s valedictory

March 28, 2018

Steven Joyce delivered his valedictory speech yesterday evening.

I’ve heard him make many speeches which show his compassion, intelligence and wit.

He left his best for last.

 

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (National): I must say, preparing this valedictory statement is one of the hardest things I’ve done in this Parliament. It’s very hard to sum up the experiences of the last nearly a decade in one 20 minute speech. So what I’ve decided to do instead is table the 1,521 press releases I made as a Minister over that time. So, at the end of this speech, I thought I’d just do them one by one during the dinner break. Although perhaps the one that I really should table would be my academic record, given that we’ve had so much good discussion about it over the years.

I nearly didn’t actually end up being in this Parliament. Let me tell you a story. After the excitement that was the 2005 election campaign, which was my first as campaign chair, I decided that was me in politics—I can’t think possibly why—and that I’d go off and do something else. And it was.

Then, John Key—Sir John—became the leader of the National Party, and he rang me up and said, “Do you want to do a bit of sort of advisory work for me?”, and I said, “Yes, absolutely; that would be great. No trouble at all—I can fit that in.” Then he rang me up and said, “Would you like to run the 2008 campaign for me.”, and I said, “Gosh, I’ve got a few things on, but I’ll see if I can shift it around and sort of get three months to run the campaign.” Then, at the beginning of 2008, I got a call from him. He says, “Well, look, why don’t you come in and do some real work?”

I thought about it, and I thought, “Gosh, here I am: newly married, young daughter just born, lifestyle block, few directorships—the ultimate in perfect work-life balance. Do I really want to do this?”

Then Judy Kirk rang. Many of us on this side of the House know what it means to be “Judy-ed”. She fixes you with a stare and says, “Your country needs you to do this, Steven.” And I’d had that before, so I knew about that. So I nearly didn’t do it. I rang Judy back and said, “No; I can’t do it.” Then she rang again, and I said, “No; I can’t do it.”

Then my wife noticed that two weeks had passed and I hadn’t rung John. She said, “Well, that tells me that, actually, you probably do want to do this, because you haven’t actually rung the person that asked you and said no.” So she said, “You’d better go and do it.”, and so I did. I came into this House in the 2008 election.

Straight away, I was so privileged—and not many of us have had this privilege—to become a Minister immediately—before I became a parliamentarian, in fact, officially. I was named in the Ministry. I was given my office in the Beehive. And then somebody said to me, “Oh, there’s a space called ‘Parliament’ you have to go to as well”—where they ask you annoying questions and you have to be able to answer them. I said, “Gosh; that seems a bit inconvenient.”—but nevertheless.

So I got my office, and I went into my office on the fifth floor of the Beehive. Remember, I’d come from the private sector, and there was a sort of magnificently large office on the fifth floor of the Beehive. I was thinking to myself, “This looks extravagant.” I thought, “This smells a bit like the public service.” There were these chairs and these couches and this massive boardroom table, and I said to myself, “This is ridiculous. There is absolutely no way one Minister—lowly ranked—needs all this stuff.” Then I had my first officials meeting.

They all came in the door—processed in the door. They all came in, and they sat down around the table, others sat in the chairs, and they stood along the walls, and I realised that I’d entered a particularly different world.

What I did learn quite quickly, though, is that officials have a meeting after the meeting when they go outside and discuss what they think the Minister meant. The good thing about learning that is, until they recognise you, you can sneak out through your senior private secretary’s door and contribute to that discussion: “I think he meant this.”—and people would say, “No, no, no, no.”

I was lucky enough to participate in a huge range of portfolios as a Minister. Building roads was something I enjoyed immensely as Minister of Transport. I know the Greens probably thought that I enjoyed the smell of fresh asphalt in the morning—it’s not completely true. But we did build some wonderful roads linking regional New Zealand with the main centres.

I think of one in particular, which was Waterview, which we inherited. I don’t know whether many people know this; that tunnel was only going to be two lanes in each direction. I looked at that and thought, “Well, I’m no transport engineer, but that feels like it’s going to be out of date pretty quickly.”, and it’s very hard to widen a tunnel. So I said to the officials, “Could you do it three lanes in each direction.”, and they said, “Well, anything’s possible, Minister.” I said, “It also looks too expensive, so is it possible that you could possibly reduce the price of it in the same process”—because three lanes in each direction was $3 billion; two lanes was $2.4 billion. They said, “Well, what do you want, Minister.” I said, “I want about $1 billion off it and I want it a lane wider in each direction.” They reminded me at the opening that that’s exactly what they gave us: $1.4 billion, three lanes in each direction. It was one of my proudest moments as a Minister.

But it was the big projects with the small projects. We did a wonderful one called Matahōrua Gorge, which is on the road between Napier and Gisborne. It’s 214-kilometres long, that road. This was 4.5 kilometres in the middle of it. It was a goat track that was dangerous. We were asked to widen it and completely rearrange the road. I went along to the sod-turning for it and also to the opening. It was one of the most wonderful experiences, because everybody who knew anything about that road had come out: the people that owned the land by the road, the iwi, and the council. They knew all the stories of all the problems that occurred with it, and they were so thrilled that we fixed that road. All we need is another 10 like that between Napier and Gisborne and we’ll be making real progress. So think about that, matua Shane, with your Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund.

So I’ve done countless pōwhiri, sod-turnings, and ribbon cuttings. I got a reputation as somebody who prioritised road investment over rail, which my Cabinet colleagues were always amused about, because we spent more on rail than any other Government in the last 50 years. They were critical, because they thought, well, obviously, I wasn’t selling that sufficiently. But, as I used to say at transport conferences, it’s clear that I love rail. I’m so pro-rail that I called by son “Thomas”.

The other big thing I was involved in initially was the ultrafast broadband network. There have been many favourable comparisons between the New Zealand experience and the Australian experience, including from the current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who shadowed Stephen Conroy during the setting up of that under the then Labour Government. Not many people know, though, that it was actually Australia that helped us most in our broadband network. They started a year before us, so soon after I got the job I thought, “Well, I’d better head over to the Australia and see what’s going on.” So I went over and met Stephen Conroy in Melbourne as the Minister in charge of their broadband network. I realised quite quickly that he had two problems: he was up against a deadline which he’d set way too early on and he’d, basically, made it that only Telstra could do it. As a result, Telstra just sat there waiting for Stephen Conroy to turn up with a big enough cheque.

So I came back from Australia absolutely determined that ours would be a contest where there are at least two players and we would not have any artificial deadlines. That upset both Bill and the Prime Minister who wanted to say when this thing was going to be started, and I couldn’t tell them, deliberately. But I tell you what: that one trip across the Tasman saved us billions and billions of dollars as a country. I’m absolutely confident about that. And now we have an ultrafast broadband network, fibre to the home to places like Mōkau, Kaitangata, and Naseby. Nobody else in the world has done that—nobody else. Yes; they’ve had fibre to the home, but nobody’s tried to get it to the Nasebys of the world. It’s fantastic.

I’m proud of all the portfolios I’ve been involved with. I’m proud of the science and the tech sector. It’s been one of the biggest thrills of my time in this place: to go around and see some of those amazing tech companies. They’re everywhere. We have hundreds of them, exploiting narrow, deep niches around the world—ADInstruments from Dunedin and Furnware from Hawke’s Bay, who make an ergonomically designed chair for school children which is scientifically proven to stop them fidgeting while they learn. They sell that all over the world. But, of course, the guy who has redefined what is able to be done with technology from a New Zealand base is Peter Beck—it’s great to see Peter here this evening—with Rocket Lab. That is truly amazing, and I know just enough about physics to know how difficult it is to do what Rocket Lab is doing—to actually get projector like that into space.

I remember meeting Peter for the first time, and I wasn’t 100 percent convinced that he would get there. As politicians, we all know that you meet a lot of people with a lot of big plans, and here’s this guy wandering in the door, and he’s going to build rockets and send them into space. I actually think we used to joke about a parliamentarian here who wanted to set up a space industry in New Zealand, and I think possibly John Key replaced him in his electorate. Yet here we were, and I became convinced very quickly that Peter knew what he was doing. Actually, it’s an amazing story, and we haven’t got time to tell tonight, except that Peter came to see me and said, “Look, we’re nearly finished, Minister. Now we just need a regulatory system, and I need it in about six months.” I thought, “Oh, OK, what’s involved there?” He said, “Well, you’ve got to join two or three space treaties, probably pass a law, do a deal with the Americans,” and I thought, “Well, hell, we’d better get on with it.” I want to pay tribute to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) officials, who actually took that thing and absolutely ran with it. We didn’t quite meet Peter’s deadline, but then, neither did he! But we now have a fit for purpose space regulatory system. Again harking back to the Australians, I understand now they’re trying to work out how New Zealand did it in such a short space of time.

I’m looking forward to going finally to Māhia again. I actually was invited to open the rocket launching site in Māhia. It’s about 100 kilometres off the highway. You get about halfway down and you think you’ve gone in the wrong direction. But anyway, I got there. There were hundreds of people there that had come from all over the place to be at the launch, and I was asked to open it. The Māori trust that owned the land had a whole lot of people there, and there were a number of kuia sitting across the front. I wandered over to see them before we started, and I asked one of them, “Well, look, how do you feel about all this happening on your land?” She said, “Well, we’ve been thinking about diversifying out of beef and lamb for a while, but I must admit we hadn’t really thought of rockets.”

I’ve also been involved a lot in regional development, which is the new black, as Shane Jones knows. I will tell you this: most of the regions actually don’t want a huge amount from Wellington. They actually also don’t want to be told too often that they’re struggling by people who never go there. There are a couple that always do it tough, and actually the Far North is one of them. There’s some tough kids up there. One of the programmes we set up was a thing called Growing Regional Opportunities through Work (GROW) Kaikohe. Ben Dalton from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), who I understand is working for Shane now, went up there to run our regional development programme, and he set up GROW Kaikohe. He came back and told us about the great things that were being done with GROW Kaikohe. It’s basically a collection of about a hundred kids from the hardest parts of society—trying to get them into work, and, most importantly, keep them in work, which is actually the hardest part.

So I went to the graduation with Anne Tolley, but not before Ben had told me about this person called Jo who was running the show. Jo was going around and if necessary pulling these kids out of bed, kicking their bums, doing whatever it took to keep them in work through the year that they were involved in this programme. So I got to go and see this in action at the graduation. I met some of the kids, and there are some tough stories there about families that have been on drugs for a long time, families that were tied up in all the gangs, young mums of 16 and 17 with a couple of kids. I mean, these are the hardest edges of society. And I met the employers, who thought they were actually going to take on some people to work, but then realised quite early on that this was actually a community service that they were doing. They had to adjust their expectations, because they actually had to help these kids for six months or more before they actually got them into a situation where they could contribute to the company that they were working with.

And I met Jo, and she is the coolest person. She actually goes around and does exactly that. She’s effectively the wrangler, the mentor, the navigator in these kids’ lives, and she fixes all that up. And I said, “Well, where do you work? Where do you come from?” She’s actually been in a number of organisations—the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), NGOs—but to me the most important thing was that she was Jo, and that she was prepared to do that. So actually we don’t need to come up with hundreds more programmes, or for each politician to rebrand what’s being done, whether it’s in the Far North or Gisborne. We just need to find a hundred Jos. And I don’t care where they work; just find a hundred Jos, and put them with the kids, and let them get on with it.

I was also involved a lot with the tertiary sector—seven years, in fact, as tertiary education Minister, the longest record ever, apparently—and I think we enjoyed each other. The tertiary sector did some amazing things in terms of performance, whether it was in the provider-based area or the work-based area, and the tertiary education system also is involved in a thing called international education, which is hugely important for New Zealand’s future. I’ve had the privilege of going around to various countries and going to alumni functions and meeting some of the kids that have had their New Zealand education—not so young, some of them—and those people are huge ambassadors and advocates for this country. The countries they come from are hugely important for our prosperity for the rest of this century, if not beyond—places like Korea, Japan, China, South-east Asia, Latin America, and continental Europe—and these are the kids that are going to lead that relationship from their end over the next 50 years. I met a guy in Malaysia who was a deputy chief Minister of one of their provinces who came to Lincoln University in the 1970s on the Colombo Plan, and he still prioritises relationships with New Zealand today. So think of this: international education is the Colombo Plan on steroids. It is hugely important for New Zealand.

Of course, there were some non-portfolio things that I did as well. Some that I was handed, like Novopay, I don’t propose to spend a huge amount of time on this evening, but I would encourage you to read the book—the ministerial inquiry into Novopay. Any Minister who’s involved with ICT projects need to go and read that book. It’s well worth reading, because it’s a lesson. And it’s not a political partisan thing, because it went back over two Governments, but it’s a lesson in what not to do in ICT projects in Government.

Every now and then, of course, I’d get asked to stand in for the Prime Minister when it wasn’t possible for him to be somewhere—or he’d made arrangements, perhaps, to be somewhere else. So it was at Waitangi in 2016. I was asked to lead our team. We had the Iwi Chairs Forum at the Copthorne Hotel. It was a beautiful, sunny, peaceful day, and afterwards I wandered out with the team for what was going to be very quiet and low-key interview. There was nobody around—a couple of police officers, a bit of security: not as much as you’d hope for, in the end—and I was chatting away happily when I felt something hit my face. Whatever it was, it then ricocheted on to the TVNZ reporter’s chest, and then ricocheted down to the ground. I still didn’t know what it was, so we all looked down like this together—journalists, Ministers, pretty much everybody, except for Josie Butler. And we looked at it, and I said, “Gosh.” I thought to myself, “Well, what do you say in these situations?” So I said, “Good-oh,” and then I looked at my colleagues and said, “Well, let’s head off, then.”

As we walked away I said to Nathan Guy, standing next to me, under my breath, “Well, do you think the cameras picked that up?” He said, “Yeah, I think so. Keep walking.” I have to say it’s telling that two of my closest colleagues in caucus, Nathan Guy and Louise Upston, both of whom I otherwise admire and enjoy the company of, were flanking me that day, and neither stepped in front of the senior Minister to, as they say, take the bullet. What was left to do except tweet to John Oliver, to get it over with, and then go and open the new Waitangi museum—which is very impressive, by the way, but it didn’t make the news.

Can I say I hugely enjoyed working with and for John Key and Bill English. Everybody knows John was the front man, but he also has a very powerful intellect. He had a great capacity to get to the numb of an issue quickly, and a great ability to make the right decision, and I believe history will judge him very well. Bill was the engine room guy to the last eight years. He’s the quintessential compassionate conservative. We worked together in finance for eight years. He got fond of the idea of him loading the bullets and me firing. He developed almost infinite patience with all his colleagues, including me. He blossomed as leader, and it is one of my greatest regrets that he didn’t get to serve at least a full term as our Prime Minister. He would have been a superb Prime Minister—well, he was. He would have been a superb Prime Minister for longer. They both placed great trust in me, and I hope I successfully repaid that trust.

When John left, I inherited finance. I got the Treasury officials in—we knew each other—and they asked what I wanted to do in the Budget. I said, “Look, very straightforward: big infrastructure package, big public services, and a family incomes package. We’ve got four months; let’s get on with it.” They went, “Aw, Minister,” and I said, “Well, let’s give it a go.” I actually got to know them all very, very well over that period, and I’m very proud of that Budget. My proudest moment as Minister of Finance was watching the coverage on Budget night, and watching the families on TV talk about what that Budget meant for them. I’m proud that this Government that’s in place now picked up most of that—tweaked it a bit to make it look a bit more like their own, but certainly picked up what we did.

My other job—my weekend job, if you will—was as National Party campaign chair. That happened a bit by accident, too. It started off in 2005, when they quite literally couldn’t find anybody else. So I was the campaign chair, and with Don Brash as leader we went from 22 to 39 percent. It was a massive rollercoaster—red-blue billboards, taxathon ads, the Exclusive Brethren, American bagmen, the first online tax calculator—and ultimately it was close but no cigar.

We tried an interesting technique in that campaign: running our own positive and negative campaign, so as not to give Labour a look-in. We would do all the positive side, and then we’d attack ourselves! I think of a particular example—because there were many, and I was trying to work out which one was safe to say. We were in Hawke’s Bay. Don was doing this very impressive piece about our economic story and what we were going to do, and it had been set up for months in advance. Meanwhile in Tauranga our candidate, subsequent MP Bob Clarkson, was having some difficulties with the media. So we sent Tony Ryall, experienced MP, back to Tauranga to sit with Bob and help Bob with his interview, which was good, until Bob decided he had to stand up and rearrange himself in front of the camera. He actually declared, “Oh, look, I’ve just got to rearrange myself a bit here.”, and then he went outside, and Tony Ryall put his head in his hands on nationwide television. The media, of course, went to Don for his comments on this, and Don, bless his heart, was a master of the six-second soundbite—just not the one you want. He said, “Eh, I don’t think any of my candidates should be adjusting their testicles on national television.”, and that was that day!

So, weirdly, since 2005 I’ve chaired four more national campaigns. We’ve had “Choosing a brighter future”, “Building a brighter future”, “Working for New Zealand”, and “Delivering for New Zealanders”. We’ve had stop-go signs, rowers, “Laboureens”, teapot tapes, the moment of truth—or strewth—show me the money, dirty politics, runners, a few soundtracks, and the H-fee. Still, we had a reasonable run. The last four party vote results were the highest four party vote percentages that any New Zealand party has had so far in MMP.

I’ve had an amazing campaign team around me for all five elections. I can’t name them all, but I want to name Jo de Joux—unflappable Jo, absolutely crucial in all of them—Wayne Eagleson and Mark Textor; Murray McCully, in the early years, before he became a full-time gin sucker; two presidents, Judy Kirk and then Peter Goodfellow; the party board; the tireless Greg Hamilton; the senior leadership team; the MPs, the candidates, and the volunteers—just an amazing machine. There was never a plan to chair five election campaigns; I just kept being asked back, and today I’m hoping that we fix that, finally. We have a good team, though. I want to acknowledge Simon and Paula. They’ve already hit the ground running. We have a lot of strong campaigners coming through, both in the party and here in the Parliament. I’m confident that this party will acquit itself incredibly well in 2020, and, in my view, you will need to, because your country will need you.

There are a lot more people I would like to thank. I’d like to thank my political advisors over the years—in particular, Sir Kenneth Clark, Andrew Falloon, Chris Bishop, and Jo de Joux—two of them now MPs. I want to thank my media staff: Simon, Charlotte, Serene, Rachel—and Anita, who memorably left me after 3 years, cheerfully telling me as she left that she wanted to get out before it all turned to crap—slightly early, Ferg.

I particularly want to single out Anna Lillis, who has doubled as both senior press secretary and political advisor for so long. Thanks, Anna, for your wise and steadying counsel. I want to thank my Senior Private Secretaries—in particular, Kathleen Lambert. Many people in this building will know Kathleen, who house-trained me over the first six years of my time as a Minister. Kathleen was and is an absolute machine. She is famous for her Tim Tam Tuesdays and her millions, literally millions, of post-it notes.

I could tell you a brief story: when I was offshore with Prime Minister John Key in China we were doing these big food and beverage dinners, which profiled New Zealand food and beverage to Chinese media, Chinese officials, Chinese businesses, and so on, and these were massive meals. I went along to the first one in Shanghai, and they had all this wonderful New Zealand produce. They started with salmon, as they often did, because we have wonderful New Zealand salmon. So we were all looking out and they were bringing out all the salmon, and I was thinking oh, this will be nice. This person came up to me and said, “Don’t worry about the salmon, Minister. You don’t have to eat it. It’s fine. We’ve got you something else.” I said, “Well, this is a bit weird. I quite like salmon. I don’t often get to eat it. I quite like the salmon.” “No, no, Minister you don’t have salmon.” So I said, “OK. Fine—I think.”

They brought me out a menu and a nice fresh green salad, and that was fine. I thought nothing more of it until we arrived at the next place on the tour and again it happened. And I said, “No, no, I really want the salmon.” I thought well, I’ll just give it a bit of a go, and they said, “No, no, Minister, you can’t have the salmon. Everybody else can have the salmon, but you can’t, because you don’t eat salmon.” But I’m saying no, I do. I really do. I eat salmon. I’m happy to eat salmon. Give me some salmon. No, Minister. I thought well, I’d better not make an international incident of it. I’ll just you know calmly—. Then we get to Beijing and it happened again, and it actually happened from then on. Whenever I went offshore and they were serving New Zealand salmon, for some reason I was always told I couldn’t have the salmon, and I didn’t know why.

I asked the officials and nobody knew, but obviously somebody had ticked the box at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and said, “This guy when he goes overseas—whatever you do don’t give him salmon.” So I was telling the story in my office one day—a little bit later, sitting in my office—and Kathleen Lambert pricked her ears up, and she said, “Oh, I know why that is.” I said, “Why’s that?” She said, “We were having dinner in your office one night and you asked me what the fish of the day was and I said the salmon and you screwed up your nose at it, so I made a note: doesn’t eat salmon.”, and told MFAT accordingly.

I want to acknowledge my bench mate, Gerry Brownlee. We’ve been together, big guy, for six years. He’s a marvellous politician and a marvellous individual, and I’ve enjoyed working with him immensely, including through Christchurch, where he did the most amazing things, and I think history will record that very positively. I want to acknowledge all the officials that I’ve worked with, and I want to acknowledge Mike Hosking and Annette King, my compatriots in radio. We had a wonderful nine years—longest radio show I’ve ever done; notwithstanding I owned the company at one point—not that one. I want to thank the public of New Zealand. I’ve been humbled to have countless people come up to me on the streets, since I’ve retired, in pubs and in shops around New Zealand in the last couple of weeks and thank me for my service. It’s been very humbling. You are the reason I’ve been here, and the reason it’s actually quite hard to leave.

I want to thank my family, my parents Peter and Lorna, who can’t be here because Mum’s just got out of hospital. I want to thank Diane, my brothers Kevin, Rodney, and Brendan, who hopefully will no longer have to put up with being mistaken for me at the pub by people who are determined to tell me what I should be doing now. I want to thank my wife Suzanne for her unfailing support and confidence in me coming here, in being here, and confidence in my decision to leave here, and her willingness to shoulder all the responsibility in our family for so long.

I have two children: Thomas and Amelia. Amelia’s here today. They have known nothing about me except that I’ve been a Minister for their entire lives, which is strange, because I see myself as quite short term in politics. They know me as leaving at 5.20 every Monday morning before they wake up and coming back Thursday night after they’ve gone to sleep, or on Friday or on Saturday. Then on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, they were used to me sequestering myself outside and reading papers for four or five hours each afternoon at the weekend.

I have to confess that I’ve often worried about the example that I’ve been setting them. Of course parents travel for work. It’s just the relentless nature of the ministerial job, day and day out for years on end, and in my case nine. Then there were the particularly arduous times. During one such time in 2011, my then four-year-old daughter—there were friends around at the house and she wandered up to the TV and I had a video of the Rena on, and she turned around to everybody and said, “That’s where my daddy lives.” Tommy doesn’t say anything, literally. He’s what they call non-verbally autistic. He is 8 years old, doesn’t have any vocabulary at all, but I know he likes having his dad around. He tells me with this laugh and with his eyes, and now he’s going to have dad around some more.

We adults know that kids can be great observes and great levellers. When Amelia was four or five the teachers at her school asked her to tell them what her daddy did. “My daddy works at the Beehive,” she said confidently. “Fair enough,” said the teacher “And what does daddy do at the Beehive?” Amelia thought about it for a minute and then said, He does drawings, he drinks water, and he goes to the toilet.”—which seems like a reasonable summary to me. But not anymore, sweetheart. Not anymore.

Thank you very much everybody for being great to work with. Cheers.

 


Steven Joyce retiring from parliament

March 6, 2018

Steven Joyce has announced he’s retiring from parliament:

“I have had a wonderful time in this place over the last nearly ten years including nine years as a Minister, and have been privileged to be able to make a real contribution to the development of our country,” Mr Joyce says.

“With the recent change of National Party leadership I have had the opportunity to consider again what I would like to do over the next several years.

“Simon has made a very positive proposal to me to stay and contribute as a senior member of the team on the front bench with a choice of portfolio.

“However I feel that it is time for him to get a new team around him to take National forward and win in 2020 and then govern again for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“I have offered to assist in any way I can from outside parliament and will remain a staunch supporter of the Party.

“Personal highlights of my time in office include setting up major infrastructure projects like ultrafast broadband, the major motorway and expressway projects now coming on stream, and the electrification of Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“I have also enjoyed my involvement in the tertiary education sector, the hi-tech sector, the science sector and regional New Zealand and am proud of the progress we made as a Government in all four areas.

“I have led the National Party’s general election campaign five times as Campaign Chair and in four of those for John Key and Bill English, we achieved a Party Vote in excess of 44 per cent, the only time it has happened under MMP.

“And it was an honour to be Bill English’s Associate Minister of Finance for eight years before presenting my own budget in 2017, which continued building the platform for future economic growth and focused on boosting incomes for low and middle income earners.

“My plan now is to return to commercial life and seek new challenges and also to focus on being a good Dad to Tommy and Amelia.

“I’d like to thank my wife Suzanne, colleagues, staff, party supporters, the public and all the people I have met through my work for their encouragement, support and friendship over the last ten years in Parliament and fifteen in the party.”

I first met Steven when he was commissioned by the party to lead its reorganisation and I was National’s Otago electorate chair.

He and then-president Judy Kirk went round every electorate seeking members’ views.

That led to new rules which made the party fit for MMP, strengthened its organisation and provided solid stones for the foundation on which the return to government was built.

Steven later became party general manager and I was impressed by how approachable and responsive he was whenever I had the need of his help or advice.

In 1996, 1999 and 2002 National still ran First Past the Post campaigns. The difference between those campaigns and the ones run by Steven from 2005 when no candidate or volunteer was left in any doubt about the importance of the party vote showed in the results.

He’s given more than nine years of service to New Zealand as a Minister and more than that to National.

He’s earned a return to the commercial sector and his family and I wish him, and them well.

National leader Simon Bridges pays tribute to Steven here.

 


Steven Joyce’s maiden speech

February 20, 2018

National’s finance spokesman Steven Joyce is standing for National’s leadership.

I posted Mark Mitchell’s maiden speech yesterday and those of Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins on Saturday.

Here is Steven’s:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (National) : Firstly, I would like to congratulate my local MP, Lockwood Smith, on his election to the role of Speaker.

Could I start by saying a fond greeting to Jeremy Greenbrook-Held of Oriental Bay. In the letters to the editor in the Dominion Post on 24 November, under the heading “Just who is this man Joyce?”, Mr Greenbrook-Held lamented that I had made it into my role without giving a single interview. This will come as a surprise to a number of journalists who had interviewed me prior to that time, but I will nevertheless attempt to fill some gaps for Mr Greenbrook-Held today.

I live north of Auckland but I am a Naki boy—born and raised in New Plymouth. It is a wonderful part of the world, and I love to go back to visit the mountain, the parks and the wild west coast. However, I have to say I am a fan of pretty much all of this country; I am actually a bit of a greenie, just not the type who sits over on that side of the House.

As it is for all of us, my family came here from lands far away. My father’s family are Irish Catholics. My great-grandfather Eugene Joyce arrived as a young man on the Invercargill in 1879. He married Ellen and they settled in Taranaki, where they had seven children. One of them was my grandfather Len, a bee-keeper who lived with his wife, Eileen, in Eltham, which is where my father grew up.

On my mother’s side, my great-grandmother Granny Hooper was a Cockney. She migrated with her family in 1878, landing in Nelson after 4 months at sea. She must have liked it here because she lived to 101, and I can vaguely remember her 100th birthday party, held when I was about 5. My mother was born in Kaponga. Her father was a lawyer turned insurance salesman, and a lay preacher in the Anglican Church. Their family were staunch Anglicans, my father’s family were staunch Catholics, and that was a time when those differences did matter. It tested both families when my parents married in 1961, now nearly 50 years ago. I am thrilled they are both here together in the gallery today.

My parents scrimped and borrowed and bought a Four Square dairy in New Plymouth. They were not greatly educated—they both left school at 15—but they worked really hard to make a go of their business and their family. They ran a 7-day business and brought up five kids at the same time. From where I am sitting today, that seems pretty heroic. My family, then, is from a long line of small-business people. Apart from a few years managing a supermarket, my father and mother always owned their own businesses, including their own supermarket. So it is probably not a surprise that I did the same.

I had my first taste of radio when I was finishing my zoology degree at Massey University in 1983. A bunch of us worked at Radio Massey. In 1984, members may recall, there was an election, so we decided to run a series of current affairs shows in the style of the political television shows of the time, with intercut interviews. With seriously inferior equipment, a fearless group of us worked 24 hours at a time to bring to air the hugely important Radio Massey election specials on political issues of the day. We interviewed luminaries like the late Bruce Beetham and the late Trevor de Cleene, and put those shows to air for audiences of roughly 50 people each night, probably 48 of whom would have preferred to hear the latest Joy Division track.

So I could have been a journalist, maybe. I have a brother and a sister who are members of that truly esteemed profession. Instead, it was during those late-night sessions at Radio Massey that five of us decided to start a commercial radio station of our own. We each put in $100, and Energy Enterprises—which became RadioWorks—was born with $500 in the bank. Energy FM ran as a summer station in New Plymouth for 3 years, which was all we were allowed to do under the law at that time, each time making a bit of money to help pay for our full-time FM licence application. We chased down shareholders and a board of directors, went to a licence hearing with the Broadcasting Tribunal, then waited 15 long months for a decision to be released. During that time we lost three of our number—I think they got bored—and found one more. In mid-1987 Energy FM got a licence to start broadcasting across Taranaki, and on 30 November that year we went to air.

Running one’s own business is hard work. It is hard work a lot of the time, and fantastic fun some of the time. Running one’s own radio station is even more fun. The three of us poured all we had into that business. We continued to live like university students for years, on the grounds that if we did not become used to a more comfortable lifestyle, we would not miss it. We bought stations in Tauranga and Hamilton. We started The Edge, and Solid Gold FM, and built those two and The Rock into national, satellite-delivered networks. We added stations by growth and acquisition, until by 2000 we had offices in every major town and city in the country, and 650 staff across four networks and 18 local radio stations. It was an amazing ride. We all learnt a huge amount about growing and running companies, organisational cultures, and getting the best out of people. I met, and worked with, hundreds of fantastic people, many of whom I count as friends today. Throughout, we had mostly the same board: Norton Moller, Derek Lowe, and John Armstrong. They were my mentors commercially, and I am greatly indebted to them.

CanWest raided our share register on the stock exchange in 2000. Some of us held out for a while, but eventually we realised the dream was over, and I retired from my role as chief executive officer of RadioWorks on my 38th birthday.

It was time to take stock, and time to give something back. I joined the gym. I started running; unfortunately, I later stopped running. And I joined the National Party. I put my name forward, and nearly stood, in 2002, but as it turned out it would have been a purely academic exercise. Instead, I got my first National Party job after the election. I was asked to join the campaign review, and then the full strategic review of the organisation. It was an absolute honour to do both, and to be trusted by a set of people who had no history by which to trust me. The party in 2002 was hurting pretty badly, and I was conscious of the need to take real care.

The rebuilding of the National Party was a team effort, and I am very proud to have played my part. However, a lot of the credit must go to our party’s president. Judy Kirk is now coming up towards 7 years in the role. In 2002, when she took over as president, an opinion poll that week rated the National Party at 18 percent. For the first time in its history it was in danger of no longer leading the centre-right in the New Zealand Parliament. In the 2008 election—1 month ago—the National Party achieved 45 percent of the party vote, the highest vote by any political party under MMP, and the highest vote full stop since 1990. It is a fantastic turn-round, ably led from the front by our new Prime Minister, the Hon John Key, and, prior to him, our previous leaders, Don Brash and Bill English. However, any great leader needs an organisation to lead, and Judy Kirk rebuilt that organisation, without sacrificing either her decency or her principles. When all is said and done, I am confident her name will be up there as one of the National Party’s great presidents, alongside the name of her mentor, Sir George Chapman, and that will be no more than she deserves.

It is traditional to thank your electorate workers in your maiden speech for helping you get to Parliament. I am, of course, one of the lesser beasts—a list MP—and, worse still, one who did not stand in an electorate. But I did run a campaign of sorts. It was a little bit dire in places, according to some of my critics, but redeemed by a fine candidate who shone through despite the poor support he received from his national campaign chair! There are many people I can and do want to thank for that campaign, particularly those at campaign HQ in Wellington, and the thousands of volunteers around the country who put up with the rather dictatorial requirements of the Wellington crew. I will not mention names today. They all know who they are. Can I just say that I could not hope to work with a finer bunch of people.

So, via a stint running another marvellous, proud, smallish New Zealand company with another great team of people, Jasons Travel Media, I arrive here in this building, this hermetically sealed vortex, which is our Parliament. So what contribution can I make to this place? Who do I represent? Well, I think I can be a voice for the people who always pay their taxes and who want to see them go to a good home. Primarily because I have been in business for most of the last 21 years, I can bring an understanding of the thinking of business people—small and medium sized business people in particular, who organise most of the wealth creation that takes place in this country.

I understand the mentality of those who become frustrated at Government getting in the way of their doing their job, who chafe at needless regulation and the sight of wasted tax money, who become frustrated by poorly performing infrastructure. I understand the fear they have of Government organisations muscling in on their industries by spending public money to compete with them in their marketplace for no good reason.

I bring a real understanding of the value of a dollar. From the time I was a little tacker, sitting at my family dining table as my parents added up the week’s takings, I understood that there was no money around if you did not go out and earn it yourself. I understand those people who see Wellington as a “great sucking sound” that hoovers up more and more of the nation’s money so that politicians can look like heroes when they spend it—people who are happy to pay their share but are not happy to see it wasted. I also understand what drives people: the desire to better the lot of themselves and their families under their own steam, and to not have to rely on Government handouts.

I understand that as a country we have limitless calls on our resources, and limited resources. I know that the only way we are going to progress in the manner we all hope for and provide for those less fortunate is by spending wisely the money we have, and spending most of our time working out how to grow faster to pay for all the things we need. And I think I understand what is possible in organisations that think small and nimble, where the frontline is encouraged and well resourced and the back office is pared back, and that are tuned to what the customer is seeking.

One of the distinctive features of this country is that we are a small group of islands at the bottom of the world. There are only 4.25 million of us. Small can be tough. It means small home markets, not as many resources, and not as big a pool of talent as some bigger countries have. However, our smallness need not be a negative; it can be a strength, and it should be more often. Individuals with ambition and drive have shown throughout history that they can achieve a lot more here a lot more quickly than they can in bigger countries. One great running coach, one great rowing coach, can achieve amazing things. Our smallness means that a high proportion of us are interconnected. People used to talk a lot about the six degrees of separation; in New Zealand I am sure that half the time it is just two or three degrees.

Our smallness can translate to nimbleness: the ability to change course, move quickly, make things happen. Sadly, from a vantage point outside the Government and, now, from inside it, I can see that we get wrapped up in the fact that this new regulation or law, or entitlement, or initiative is world best-practice, that by doing it we are suddenly right up there with the EU, or the UK, or the US. Maybe a world-beating, all-singing, all-dancing, multilayered process is the correct approach for a large country. Maybe for us we can trim it down, shorten it, and, dare I say, spend less money doing it. Put it this way: if we cannot, how can we compete with much larger countries? I am all for fair and sensible rules of commerce and social interaction; we just need to scale them to our size and look for the simpler way.

I believe we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in this country, and a corresponding risk that goes with it. We can recapture our mojo and become the feisty, resourceful, exciting, No. 8 wire sort of place that enabled all our forebears to make a success of themselves way down here at the bottom of the world; or we can fade away and continue on the path of figuratively, and maybe one day even literally, being the smallest and poorest also-ran state of Australia.

I do not believe I bring any pretensions to this new role. I am honoured to be provided with the opportunity to serve, and I will work diligently to repay the confidence that has been shown in me by my party, by my leader, and by New Zealanders. When it comes to work I am a believer in doing the hard yards. In rugby terms, and I stress that my familiarity with the code has pretty much always been as a fan, I like to grind it out—nothing too flashy.

I also, these days, like to have a little balance. Members may ask what I am doing here! Apparently, it is a little bit tricky in this Parliament to have balance, but I find that it helps people to keep perspective—which also might be a bit tricky here. I have an inspiration, though: my wonderful wife, Suzanne; our daughter, Amelia; and Gemma the retrodoodle. I know they will insist on seeing me regularly, no more than I will insist on seeing them.

Mr Speaker, I will work diligently to help make this country a stronger, more successful, and proud place. That is why I am here—for no other reason. If I can help to do that, then I will be able to hold my head high when I report back to New Zealanders when my time here is done.


Quotes of the year

January 3, 2018

. . . And there it was, the secret of all overseas-born grandparents the world over who give up everything, their own brothers and sisters back home, their independence, their everything to look after grandchildren.

They do it so their sons and daughters can work or study full time (and keep the economy running) and avoid insanely expensive childcare options.

They do it because they love their grandchildren so much they are willing to live in a country where they can’t understand a lot of what is being said or written around them, but march on nonetheless.

And, in the case of Nai Nai, they do it knowing that even if they can’t teach their grandchild English they will do whatever they can to make sure someone else can. . . Angela Cuming

Cooking means you use better food and you have far more control over what you eat. It also brings a lot of the things to the table – manners, eye contact, social skills, the art of conversation and confidence. . . Ray McVinnie

. . .Yes, according to the science, dairying is a major factor in a decline in water quality. The science also shows this is the result of 150 years of farming, albeit escalated in the past 20 years.

Dairy farmers are doing everything asked of them to reduce the loss of nutrients from their farms. They have bridged stream crossings, fenced waterways, planted riparian strips and built highly technical effluent treatment systems. They want clean streams as much as any other New Zealanders.

But those with their own axe to grind don’t want to know this. And the ignorant follow along.

The opinion writers and the commenters seem to think that clean streams and lakes can be accomplished immediately, that 150 years of pollution can be erased overnight.

It can’t be – even if all farming was banned and the land converted to trees and bush, the leaching would go on. . . Jon Morgan

The brutal truth is that while the Treaty’s influence has grown to the point where it is now cemented into New Zealand’s unwritten constitution, Waitangi Day is sinking under the weight of its conflicting roles.

It doubles as a mechanism for acknowledging legitimate Maori grievances past and present while also serving as the country’s national day and which is about projecting an image of unity and happy families.

Divisiveness and inclusiveness are oil and water. They don’t mix.

The tiresome antics regularly on display at Waitangi have undermined the power and symbolism of the occasion.

The wider New Zealand public which should be happily embracing the proceedings instead feels alienated by them. – John Armstrong

I can perfectly describe why we’re dying on the roads.

It’s you.

It’s not the lack of cops, or lack of passing lanes, or sub standard roads. It’s you. It’s the 40% in 2016 who died or caused death on the roads due to drugs and alcohol. The 24% who died due to speeding and dangerous driving. And the majority of the remaining deaths caused by those who were so clever they didn’t need a seatbelt. Why the hell wouldn’t you put on a seatbelt when you get in a car? – Bernadine Oliver-Kerby

If you become what you are fighting you have lost. You must fight freedom’s cause in freedom’s way. Helen Dale

Trump is never more certain than when he is completely clueless. The truth is that protection against foreign trade leads away from prosperity and strength. A country that deprives itself of foreign goods is doing to itself what an enemy might try to do in wartime—cut it off from outside commerce. It is volunteering to impoverish itself. – Steve Chapman

Protectionism amounts to the claim that everyone benefits when choices go down and prices go up. The only reason more Americans don’t dismiss that claim as self-evident crackpottery is because it comes cloaked in the language of nationalistic resentment.  – Jeff Jacoby

Honesty is to be preferred. However, there is a genuine gulf between the burdens of opposition and leadership. Opposition is fun, and largely without responsibility.  Leadership only sounds fun, and carries abounding burdens, among them the inchoate demands of “American leadership” and the rather specific requirements of interagency coordination. –  Danielle Pletka

 Greater understanding, insight, knowledge – even wisdom – are  gifts we acquire if we’re lucky, as we grow older, yet it’s when we’re young that we have to step up, and so often blunder blindly into the unknown, sometimes realising fearfully that we don’t know, or often, thinking we know better. – Valerie Davies

It was not so long ago that I was a young boy, crying in my room, wishing that I had real legs.  In an attempt to lift my spirits, my dad said one day someone will build you legs that will allow you to run faster than your friends. – Liam Malone

If only I had known that broadening a church required merely climbing up the steeple to set the clock back 20 years, I could have saved a lot of ink and cognitive energy.  Apparently, all New Zealand voters have been waiting for is for Labour to finally reinvent itself as The Alliance Historical Re-enactment Society.  Is there anything Labour’s deviously brilliant internal polling can’t teach us? – Phil Quin

Agriculture is being attacked by misinformation. Agriculture is being attacked by ignorance. Agriculture is being attacked by science illiteracy. Agriculture is being attacked by deceitful marketing. And those things do not discriminate based on party lines. – Kate Lambert

Mr Average migrant is healthier with less character problems than the average New Zealander because they had to go through all of those hoops before they got permission to stay in our country.David Cooper

My challenge to employers is to hire people based on merit, to give women as many opportunities as men and to pay women what they are worth.

It’s 2017. It’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about what she is willing to accept.

It’s about what she is worth.-  Paula Bennett

If borrowing to put money into the Super Fund is such a perfect ”free money” scenario, why stop at $13.5 billion? Surely we should borrow a couple of trillion. Nobody will notice – it’s all still on the books somewhere. Then we could make mega trillions, pay all our super costs, and never work again. – Steven Joyce

Not that it matters. None of it matters. Who came from where & what happened there. Because lets admit it, New Zealand is a tiny remote island at the ass-crack of the world…WE ALL CAME ON A BLOODY BOAT SOMETIME OR ANOTHER! – Deanna Yang

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates a lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook.  . .

Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed and which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents—that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities. And that you really can change your own life, not by wishing it was different but by working to make it different

I have brought to politics an unshakeable belief that, regardless of our circumstances, most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else are the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen. . .  – John Key

God, I wish I ran a small country. – David Cameron

The only vision really worth having for any government in a democratic society is enabling individual citizens the maximum amount of freedom to pursue their own visions.

All the rest is just politicians indulging in their personal narcissism.Rob Hosking

But in these troubled times of shifting societal landscapes, the simple joy of a cheese roll is a throwback to when times were perhaps less complicated.

That such a simple dish has survived mostly unchanged and is still revered, is a sign that – at the bottom of the country at least – we still enjoy the simple things in life. – Oscar Kightley

He was another example of that unique Aussie — a New Zealander. We claim him with pride, along with Russell Crowe and Ernest Rutherford.  – Robyn Williams on John Clarke.

If humour is common sense dancing, John Clarke was Nureyev. He proved that you can laugh at this strange part of the world, and still keep your mind and heart fully engaged. – Don McGlashan on John Clarke.

 I think I thought he might have been immortal. The Great God Dead-Pan. – Kim Hill on John Clarke

I always said as long as my mind, my body and my heart were in it, then I could do this for as long as I like. My mind’s been pretty good, my body’s been pretty good, but it was my heart that was on the fence. So, it’s time to go.”  – Eric Murray

We prefer to be in a situation where we have a positive relationship with Australia and Kiwis get a good deal in Australia – that’s better than mutual ‘armed war’ to see who can treat each other’s citizens worse. – Bill English

Keep that moment. You get to hold the baby and the mother is there and it’s an experience you can’t prepare for. There’s going to be so many times when this looks hard and it is, so keep that moment. – Bill English’s advice to new fathers.

Beware of the guy with the soft hands – go with the guy with the calluses on his hands. – Neil Smith

Spend two minutes of the hour being negative, but you have to spend the other 58 being positive.Neil Smith

I’m the person who got us into this mess, and I’m the one who will get us out of it. – Theresa May

Civilisation is built on cultural appropriation.

Every society absorbs influences from other cultures, often cherry-picking the best of what’s on offer. This process cuts both ways, because disadvantaged societies learn from more advanced ones. It’s not all about exploitation.

Those who seek to outlaw what they arbitrarily define as cultural appropriation would condemn us to a monochromatic, one-dimensional world beset by sheer boredom – and one in which New Zealanders would be reduced to eating tinned spaghetti on toast, since it’s one of the very few dishes we can call our own.

On second thoughts, scratch that. Spaghetti’s Italian. – Karl du Fresne

Beaver’s far and beyond what I am – he’s a top man. There’s no movie here. I’m just a little white fella that’s chipping away in Dunedin. – Marty Banks

“Yeah, well just the same way you prepare every day,” Peter Burling in response to a reporter’s question:  “You know, looking back to 13, going, okay, you guys were on match point a lot in 13, how do you prepare for tomorrow?”

The biggest software company in the world just got beaten by little old New Zealand software.” – Grant Dalton.

 . . . it’s a privilege to hold the America’s Cup – it’s not a right. And was embodied in the way Team New Zealand was under Sir Peter Blake. If you’re good enough to take it from us then you will and we’ll try very hard to be good enough to keep it. We won’t turn it so to make sure you can’t.Grant Dalton

More so than any other industry, agriculture is a relationship industry. We work with, and spend money with, people we like. People we trust. People we often times consider part of our family. Sometimes those people work for “Big Ag”. Sometimes they don’t. But farmers don’t do business with corporations or small companies. Farmers do business with people.  – Kate Lambert

You only get 40 attempts at farming. From your 20’s to your 60’s, you get 40 seasons,” says Duncan Logan, the founder and CEO of RocketSpace, a tech accelerator company. “In tech, you get 40 attempts in a week. – Duncan Logan

My philosophy is that people who are born with a healthy body and a healthy mind can look after themselves, but people that are unfortunate [enough] not to have that blessing, I’m prepared to help. – Mark Dunajtschik

I am repeating the warning that free money to able-bodied humans anywhere can do just the opposite of what it intends: take away the will to work, the guts to struggle, the spirit to pick yourself up by the bootstraps. . . – Alan Duff

I got up again. – Bill English

Just because males talk loudly doesn’t mean they have anything to say. – Deborah Coddington

Those who work to change public perception in spite of the evidence use a number of tactics – they cherry pick data, they drive fear, they over simplify, they take data out of context, they deliberately confuse correlation with causation and they undermine trust. –  William Rolleston

Innovation in agriculture is where the future health and wealth of New Zealand lies. As a country we need to invest in how we can support this innovation and practice change. Taxation as an answer to agricultural challenges demonstrates a lack of imagination. – Anna Campbell

. . . once a society makes it permissible to suppress views that some people don’t like, the genie is out of the bottle and the power to silence unfashionable opinions can be turned against anyone, depending on whichever ideology happens to be prevalent at the time. . . . What we are witnessing, I believe is the gradual squeezing out of conservative voices as that monoculture steadily extends its reach.- Karl du Fresne

I learned from the film that if we want to have enough food to feed the 30 billion people soon to inhabit the planet and we only grow organically, we’ll have to chop down the rainforest and make it farmland. But if we grow GMO crops that need less space and less water, the rainforest is safe. – Lenore Skenazy

Personality doesn’t feed your children or keep the rivers clean, personality doesn’t make the country safe, it requires sound leadership strong intellect and the right policies. – Jim Bolger

I got up againBill English

The only thing that could bring English down is Winston Peters choosing to go with Labour and the Greens. – Patrick Gower

There are good and bad people in all parties. Sometimes, people with whom you agree will do something dumb. Sometimes, they will conduct themselves in a manner of which you do not approve.

If your chief criteria for judging propriety and competence boils down to partisan affiliation and advantage, then you really are contributing to a problem that is going to drain all the goodwill out of this country’s politics. – Liam Hehir

This is the only assurance to an irreversible path to national freedom, happiness and economic prosperity.
To our neighbours, you now all know the simple choice you face; either support our rights or our refugees. – Morgan Tsvangirai

Loss comes in all forms, not just death, but loss of careers, loss of confidence, loss of relationships and marriage, my own succumbing to the high percentage of those that end upon the death of a child.

With all our collective legislative wisdom, there shouldn’t also have to be loss of faith in a system supposedly designed to protect those that need it at precisely the time when they most need it. . . .

Politics really did become personal for me then. A flick of the pen, wording of an amendment, an exchange in the debating chamber – parliament’s processes affect everyday lives.- Denise Lee

We are not a nation of holier-than-thou busybodies. We are friendly, moral realists who face facts and credit others with doing the best they can when they are in circumstances we are fortunate not to share. That is how we should be represented to the world. – John Roughan

. . . Abundance is no long-term solution. We can’t have as much as we want, for as long as we want. That’s not how life works, it’s not up to us to decide when the fun ends.

We ought to make the most of moments, of the people, of the laughs, because we are numbered. They are numbered. As you wind through them, one day there will be a final click.

We all know this deep down, but we gloss over it day to day. Either because more pressing issues take centre stage, or because pondering mortality of loved ones and ourselves isn’t that enjoyable.

Yes, looking back on captured moments after they’re developed is great. But being present in these moments is key to truly appreciating the finite things in life. –  Jake Bailey

Telling the truth is colour blind. – Duncan Garner

. .  .New Zealand’s GST is uniquely, and admirably, clean. It applies broadly. Every producer has an incentive to report honestly because they also report the GST they paid to their suppliers on every item when claiming GST on their inputs.

Were New Zealand to exempt healthy foods from GST, we would well be on the slippery slope. It is one of those things that sounds really easy, but would be an utter disaster in practice. . . Eric Crampton

I must say, it has been a bit rich sitting here listening to the moral awesomeness and self-congratulation of the Labour Government over the family incomes package when they opposed every single measure that it took to generate the surpluses that they are handing out. That is why they won’t get the credit they expect from the New Zealand public, because the New Zealand public know it’s a bunch of people who found the lolly bag and ran the lolly scramble without having any idea where it came from.  – Bill English

Everybody wants to do the right thing; they just want to know what the expectations are, how long they have got, what it’s going to cost, where the tools are, and they will get up and they will get on with it.  – Barbara Kuriger

. . . the United Nations has just declared access to the internet a basic human right. It’s no more that than ownership of a Rolls Royce.

One can laugh at this stuff but for humanity to make progress it’s actually damaging, leading as it does to false expectations. Far better if the UN was to talk sense and describe it as an aspiration achievable through effort rather than by right. – Sir Bob Jones

The number of children the Labour-led government will lift out of poverty next year is 12,000. That’s over and above the 49,000 the previous government’s 2017 Budget was already lifting out. That”s right 80% of the new government’s achievement was already in train.

The new caring and sharing government’s achievement is much more modest when compared with the previous heartless government’s achievement. But that’s the power of the headline.   – Rodney Hide

Essentially, progressives tend to make up their minds about things according to a grievance hierarchy, which goes something like this: Worries about Palestine trump concerns about gay rights. And concerns about gay rights trump women’s rights which, despite the big and necessary push against harassment and abuse over the past several months, tend to wind up as the last unionised, fair-pay electric cab off the left’s organised and properly supervised rank.

Or to put it another way, being anti-Western means never having to say you’re sorry, but being female doesn’t mean that the left will let you get away with having your own opinion. – James Morrow

One of the wonderful things about living the years that I have, is that Time has taught me so much about myself. In doing so, Time and opportunity have set me free to be the essence of who I really am, rather than the person who has been beset by the grief of bereavement, abandonment, divorce, poverty, pain and rejection. The insights that Time has allowed me to gather, have set me free from those profound and painful experiences to be joyful, happy, fearless, and, – I hope -loving… – Valerie Davies


Where did the lollies come from?

December 22, 2017

National left office with an economy that many other countries would envy:

There was confirmation today that the new Coalition Government has inherited a strong economic growth story from the previous National-led Government, National Party Finance Spokesperson Steven Joyce says.

“Stats New Zealand’s report of 3 per cent growth for the year to September together with upward revisions to recent growth figures paint a clear picture of a strong economy over the last few years,” Mr Joyce says.

“They have revised New Zealand’s growth figures for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 calendar years to 3.6 per cent, 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. That’s a highly respectable growth story in anyone’s language.

“GDP per capita has also been revised upwards in those years. We’ve had 8.3 per cent in real GDP per capita growth over the last five years.

Mr Joyce says the figures released today finally put to bed the fallacy that New Zealand was having a ‘productivity recession’.

“In addition, the figures today show that the construction industry remains strong with the largest quarterly growth since March 2016. Road and rail infrastructure was a key driver, with the largest increase in ten years.

“New Zealand has now experienced 18 quarters of consecutive economic growth; and has grown in 26 out of the last 27 quarters, all the way back to December 2010.

“These figures provide clear confirmation that the new Government has inherited a very strong economy driven by the strong economic plan of the previous Government.

“The Labour-led Coalition needs to take heed of softening business and consumer confidence numbers since the election and make sure their policy changes don’t muck this story up.”

The incoming government is showing great delight in spending the money the strong economy has generated but if it understands how that was achieved, it’s not showing that, as Bill English pointed out in the adjournment debate:

I must say, it has been a bit rich sitting here listening to the moral awesomeness and self-congratulation of the Labour Government over the family incomes package when they opposed every single measure that it took to generate the surpluses that they are handing out. That is why they won’t get the credit they expect from the New Zealand public, because the New Zealand public know it’s a bunch of people who found the lolly bag and ran the lolly scramble without having any idea where it came from. 

The money came from taxes generated from the work and ingenuity of taxpayers under three terms of National-led government’s careful stewardship.

The words and actions of the incoming government give no cause for confidence that the respect for, and careful stewardship of, taxpayers’ money will continue.

 

 


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