Labour now the Sweatshop Boys

June 23, 2017

Duncan Garner has the line of the day on the AM Show – he’s calling Labour the Sweatshop Boys.

He’s referring to the party’s botched intern scheme :

There are calls for Immigration NZ to investigate a Labour-linked election campaign which used unpaid labour in the guise of an education programme.

More than 80 overseas students have been doing unpaid “drudge work”, and living in a cramped Auckland marae without a working shower, reports political blog Politik. . .

Rivals ACT called the campaign a “sweat shop filled with immigrant labour”.

“I cannot believe the Labour Party’s do as we say, not as we do attitude. This is a new low for hypocrisy, even for them,” ACT leader David Seymour said.

“Who would believe in Labour’s promised crackdown on cheap student labour when Labour are one of the worst offenders in the country?” . . .

That is hypocrisy writ large.

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said Labour had to explain how it could justify “exploiting” international students for its election campaign while it was also speaking out against international education providers.

“This is truly appalling behaviour both for its lack of human decency and industrial strength hypocrisy,” Joyce said.

“If the allegations are correct, Labour has brought international students to New Zealand on false pretences, failed to look after them, and failed to meet their obligations to the students in the most basic way, while at the same time campaigning against exploitation of migrants.” . . .

Employers are very, very worried about Labour’s threatened changes to immigration.

Skills shortage in many sectors including IT, trades, farming, contracting and hospitality mean employers are already struggling to get anyone to fill positions. They’re wasting time, money and energy working their way through the process of employing immigrants.

Labour’s threatened changes would make that much, much worse.

These employers are working hard making a significant and positive economic and social contribution to New Zealand.

Labour wants to hobble them and yet has the hypocrisy to bring in people from overseas, not to work in productive businesses,  but to campaign for the party, and do it without pay.

Compounding that, the party that is supposed to stand up for workers put them up in sub-standard accommodation.

Matt McCarten did a mea culpe yesterday but the party can’t blame the mess only on him.

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it. . .

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks. The cost of feeding and housing them in motorhomes was estimated at $240,000, with an operational budget of $30,000 for petrol, venues and AT HOP cards.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.” . . .

Hypocrisy is bad enough, but there are also questions over which visas the students are on.

. . . We know these “fellows” are being given free accommodation in exchange for their work, so they are in breach of their visitor visa conditions, if they have visitor visas.

It is possible they have other visas, such as work visas. But it is hard to imagine they could qualify for work visas, and the hypocrisy would be great – Labour bringing in unpaid fellows on work visas, while campaigning against such work visas.

So it looks like either Labour has arranged 85 work visas for its unpaid fellows while campaigning to reduce the number of work visas for unskilled jobs or Labour has been complicit in a huge case of immigration fraud.

Even if the students are on working holiday visas, there are other questions:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse did not know whether Immigration NZ or MBIE’s labour inspectorate was investigating the issue, but believed Labour had serious questions to answer about possible breaches.

Woodhouse said the students would be allowed to undertake the work if they were on working holiday visas, as Labour believed, but there were still questions about whether there had been breaches of employment law.

“What I am aware of is similar schemes to this have been investigated very seriously by the labour inspectorate because it is work masquerading as voluntary work, and I think that is also a question that should be asked of the Labour Party.”

Providing services for food and board counted as work under employment law, he said.

“Regardless of what visa they’re on, there are certainly questions about the nature of the work they’re doing and whether that meets the definition of employment.” . .

The Sweatshop boys and girls in Labour will be sweating over this.

Even if there is no immigration fraud, what they are doing is in direct contradiction of their immigration policy and their supposed role in protecting workers from exploitation.

 

 


When you’re lying you’re losing

May 30, 2017

Labour was blindsided by the support other Opposition Parties – the Greens and New Zealand First – have given to national’s Budget.

That is no excuse for lying about the details Andrew Little said:

“National’s Single Child Tax will see a family with one child lose as much as $830 a year in Working For Families payments.

“Whenever you’re putting these packages together, there’s always a complexity about it. But I’d be surprised if they understood there’s 20,000 odd single-child families that will now be worse off – but that’s the reality. ” 

No it’s not.

Getting something more, even if it is less than someone else is not losing.

[Finance Minister Steven] Joyce said those families still saw an overall gain, and Labour was failing to see the bigger picture. 

“The abatement changes mean they don’t get as much from the Working for Families part of the package, but they gain more from other parts of the package, in particular the tax changes. They may also in some cases gain from the Accommodation Supplement Changes.

“It’s important to note that these people are already receiving Working for Families so currently get more than couples with no children who don’t get anything from Working for Families. They continue to get more until the Working For Families is fully abated,” he said. 

“One of the aims of the Family Incomes package is to focus Working for Families on lower income families and that middle income families are less dependent on Working for Families and keep more of what they earn through the tax system. This is an example of that occurring.” . . 

It is better and more efficient to allow people to keep more of what they earn than take more in tax, churn it through a bureaucracy and give some back.

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar points out that Labour is also lying about health expenditure:

. . . Now let’s look at what at what Vote Health has done between 2008 and Budget 2017.

  • Nominal Vote Health – increased by $4.85 billion a year from $11.92 billion to $16.77 billion – a 40.7% increase
  • Real Vote Health – increased by $3.00 billion a year from $13.77 billion to $16.77 billion – a 21.8% increase
  • Real Vote Health per capita – increased by $341 a year from $3,233 to $3,574 – a 10.5% increase

You can claim it is not enough. You can claim more is needed. You can claim growing elderly population needs more funding. But you cannot claim it has been cut. That is a lie. . . 

When you’re lying, you’re losing and Labour is.

If it can’t convince other Opposition parties to stay with it against the government, how will it convince voters to let it run the country?

 

 


Words and numbers

May 25, 2017

Finance Minister Steven Joyce says today’s Budget will have words and numbers.

Something to remember when looking at the numbers is that some of the surplus is money which has come from cost recovery and payment for services.

Most of it has come from tax.

That’s money which people have earned one way or another.

Government’s need that money to provide services, infrastructure and run the country.

Expected surpluses provide the opportunity for the government to do more of this.

They also provide the opportunity to allow people to keep some of the money they earn.

That’s not giving more, it’s taking less.


Super announcement 4pm

March 6, 2017

An email from Politik says Finance Minister Steven Joyce is expected to join Prime Minister Bill English at the post-cabinet media conference at 4pm to make an announcement on superannuation.


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Brighter books

December 9, 2016

In 2008 when John Key first became Prime Minister and handed his deputy Bill English the role of Finance Minister, Treasury was forecasting a decade of deficits.

Eight years later, ss The PM steps down, the Finance Minister is about to step into his shoes and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is poised to take over the finances, the books are looking much brighter:

Treasury’s latest forecasts show the Government’s programme of responsible economic and fiscal management is delivering benefits for New Zealanders, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“Economic growth is expected to average around 3 per cent over the next five years – considerably stronger than forecast in Budget 2016 – supporting more jobs, falling unemployment and higher incomes,” Mr English says.

“The more positive outlook for the economy is driven by high levels of construction activity, exports (particularly tourism), a growing population and low interest rates.”

The 2016 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update forecasts unemployment to  drop to 4.3 per cent by 2020/21. Over the same period Treasury expects another 150,000 jobs to be created and the average wage to increase by $7,500 to $66,000.

“While the recent Kaikoura earthquakes have had a major impact on affected families and businesses, they are not expected to disrupt the overall momentum of the economy,” Mr English says.

“However, the earthquakes do highlight the importance of paying off debt in the good times so that the Government can support New Zealand communities in challenging times.”

Treasury estimates the total fiscal cost of the earthquakes will be about $2 billion to $3 billion, some of which will be funded by insurance proceeds or existing funds. Net costs of $1 billion have been included in this year’s forecasts. 

The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) is forecast to be $473 million in surplus this year, rising to $8.5 billion over the forecast period.

The Half Year Update shows net debt peaked as a proportion of GDP in 2015/16 – a year earlier than previously expected – and is expected to fall to 18.8 per cent of GDP by 2020/21.

Mr English says the accompanying Budget Policy Statement confirms the operating allowance will remain at $1.5 billion for each of the next four Budgets.

The capital allowance for Budget 2016 has been increased from $900 million to $3 billion in Budget 2017 and to $2 billion in future Budgets to provide for a number of high quality infrastructure and investment projects.

Contributions to the NZ Super Fund are forecast to restart in 2020/21 once net debt falls below 20 per cent of GDP.

The Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update and Budget Policy Statement can be found here and here.

Summary of Economic and Fiscal Forecasts
No automatic alt text available.

 


Rural round-up

December 6, 2016

Farm and research hub all go – Sally Rae:

Work is under way to convert the site of the new Southern Dairy Hub at Makarewa, near Invercargill, into a working dairy farm and centre for science and research.

Last week, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce climbed aboard an excavator to shift  earth at the site of the new dairy shed.

DairyNZ and AgResearch  are the principal shareholders in the hub,  investing $5million each, while local farmers and businesses  have contributed a further $1.25million through the Southern Dairy Development Trust. . . 

McKay still entranced by cavalcade – Sally Rae:

When Jeanette McKay saddled up for the first Otago Goldfields Cavalcade in 1991, it was to prove to be an “epic journey”.

A blizzard hit the trail, resulting in nine people being treated for hypothermia, but it failed to dampen her enthusiasm for the event.

Mrs McKay (71), from Springvale, near Alexandra, is among a handful of equine enthusiasts who have taken part in every cavalcade. And she will be hitting the trail again for next year’s 25th anniversary event which finishes in Omakau on March 4. The event still maintained its “magic” for the cavalcade veteran who always hoped it would “enthuse people to do more trekking, to see more of the country”. . . .

Healthy Rivers Plan Needs a Rethink:

Federated Farmers is calling for the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora project in the Waikato to be put on hold.

This follows the Waikato Regional Council’s intention to withdraw 120,000 hectares from the original proposed Plan Change 1.

The decision was made after Hauraki iwi raised concerns around the consultation process.

As a result, an area of land of interest to iwi will be ‘partially withdrawn’ as a step towards future consultation with Hauraki iwi. . . 

Concrete for 50 years peace of mind – Mark Daniel:

As the milk price nuzzles $6/kgMS, dairy farmers with financial clout can again turn to dealing with effluent and some equipment makers can cease holding their breath.

One dairy farmer who has the effluent problem under control is John van Heuven, who with his wife Maria milks 500 cows on 165ha at Johmar Farms on the outskirts of Matamata.

Having decided to increase cow numbers and install a 54-bail rotary for 2015, van Heuven decided to upgrade effluent storage, which had capacity for 1.5 milkings and needed closer attention. . . 

NZ milk processors including Miraka lift forecast payouts, boosting economic outlook – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Advances in whole milk powder prices at recent GlobalDairyTrade auctions is bolstering the outlook for New Zealand’s largest export commodity and prompting milk processors to hike their forecast payout levels to farmers this season, signalling a boost ahead for the local economy.

Taupo-based milk processor Miraka hiked its base forecast late last week to a range of $5.80-to-$6 per kilogram of milk solids, joining Open Country Dairy which raised its forecast to $5.60-to-$5.90/kgMS, Westland Milk Products with a range of $5.50-to-$5.90/kgMS, and both Synlait Milk and Fonterra Cooperative Group at $6/kgMS. Dairy NZ currently estimates the average farmer will break even at a milk price of $5.05/kgMS. . . 

Lamb flap prices rise to 20-month high as higher Chinese demand meets lower NZ supply – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for the humble lamb flap are on a tear, hitting their highest level in 20 months, driven by increased demand from China and lower supply from New Zealand.

While prices for a leg of lamb in the UK and beef for meat patties in the US are being impacted by weak demand, the price for lamb flaps rose to US$5.10 per kilogram in November, from US$4.70/kg in October and US$3.80/kg for the same period a year earlier, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report. That’s the highest level recorded by AgriHQ’s since March 2015. . . 

Major dairy farming portfolio placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s larger private-structured dairy farming operations – producing some $8.5 million worth of milk a year – has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio of Otago farms encompasses four stand-alone dairying operations located some 15 kilometres south-west of Oamaru. They are owned by Oamaru-based company Borst Holdings Ltd.

Combined, the 992 hectares of land produce a whopping 1,418,000 kilograms of milk solids annually from a herd of 3380 animals. The four operations within the portfolio are:
• Pleasant Creek Farm – a 321 hectare property split into 42 paddocks, milking 980 cows. The farm has five dwellings – including a five-bedroom executive style homestead, a four-bedroom manager’s residence, a second four- bedroom dwelling, and a trio of two-bedroom staff quarters in various configurations. . . 

Image may contain: sky and outdoor


%d bloggers like this: