Something smells fishy

July 1, 2020

New Zealand First is smelling fishy again: :

Newshub has obtained an explosive audio recording of Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash talking about NZ First MPs Winston Peters and Shane Jones.

The recording was from February 2018, around the time the Government first delayed the rollout of cameras on nearly 1000 fishing boats – since then it’s been delayed again until at least October next year.

In it, Nash points the finger of blame squarely at them for delaying plans to put cameras on commercial fishing boats to make sure they don’t break the law. . . 

Michael Morrah has done a public service in reporting on this, not just because of questions over the delay to cameras but because of the link between the policy and donations.

Fishing company Talley’s donated $10,000 to Shane Jones’ 2017 election campaign. RNZ also revealed that Talleys donated $26,950 to the NZ First Foundation.

Newshub has verified these donations.

Talley’s Andrew Talley told Newshub “within the right framework cameras have a place in modern fisheries management”.

He says there’s “no connection” with donations and the camera delays. . . 

It would be hard to either prove or disprove whether there is a connection.

But there is a problem with NZ First and its foundation which the Serious Fraud Office has referred to the police.

Referral does not mean guilt and for everyone’s sake this must be cleared up before voting starts.

Whether or not it that happens, this story provides yet another reason for National to keep its resolution to rule New Zealand First out as a potential coalition partner.

Labour won’t be able to do that without collapsing the government unless but they agreed to having the dog as a partner and have to put up with the fleas.


Where are all the Ministers?

April 8, 2020

Several questions have arisen in the wake of Health Minister David Clark’s admission he breached lockdown rules twice, one of which is why was he in Dunedin rather than in Wellington during this unprecedented crisis?

That leads to another question, raised by Chris Trotter:  where are the other Ministers?

Beyond the sterling example provided by the Prime Minister and her Finance Minister, New Zealanders could be forgiven for wondering if there is anyone else in the Coalition Cabinet equal to the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 Pandemic. One has only to consider the curiously disengaged behaviour of Health Minister, David Clark. Yes, there was that ill-advised bike ride, but of even more concern is the fact that, in the midst of a national health emergency, New Zealand’s Health Minister has isolated himself in his Dunedin family home – 600 kilometres south of the capital. Moreover, as citizens’ rights are being necessarily curtailed, why do we hear so little from the Justice Minister and the Attorney-General? With more and more “idiots” flouting the Covid-19 rules, where is the Police Minister?

Shouldn’t Police Minister Stuart Nash be in Wellington, working with officials and available to answer questions given the draconian powers police have under the state of emergency?

Shouldn’t Justice Minister Andrew Little be concentrating on the crisis rather than trying to rush through the contentious Bill on prisoner voting?

Civil Defence officials are regularly fronting the media, where is their Minister Peeni Henare?

MBIE has a huge job working out what’s an essential business and what’s not. Where is their Minister Phil Twyford and why isn’t he at the media briefings?

Phone and internet enable good communication but conversations and deliberations at a distance are second best when compared with being on the spot.

The response to Covid-19 has been likened to a war. Shouldn’t there be a war cabinet, albeit at the two metre distance required for anyone outside their bubbles, working to not only deal with the health crisis but formulating the plan that will be needed to counter the economic and social challenges that are already apparent?

It doesn’t need a whole of government approach – and given the three parties in this one that wouldn’t be advisable. But it does need more than a cabinet of two.

Could it be that the crisis has shown the shallowness of talent in the government and that as Chris Trotter says, we could be forgiven for wondering if there is anyone else in the Coalition Cabinet equal to the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 Pandemic? 

Is the reason the reason there isn’t a new Health Minister because there isn’t anyone else up to the job?

This begs another question: if they’re not equal to dealing with these challenges, are they equal to dealing with the challenges the recovery will pose?


Mixed message

January 3, 2019

Police Minister Stuart Nash thinks testing drugs at festivals is a fantastic idea.

Independent testing tents that let you know what’s in recreational drugs could become a regular feature at New Zealand festivals, Police Minister Stuart Nash says.

“I think they’re a fantastic idea and should be installed at all our festivals,” he said. “But I need to see how it works and better understand the implications of it first.”

The idea behind recreational drug testing is not to stop drug use but reduce harm, by letting consumers of illicit pills know if the drugs they are taking have been mixed with other dangerous chemicals.

This sends the message that if there are no other dangerous chemicals mixed in the drugs they will be harmless when they may well not be.

“The war on drugs hasn’t worked in the past 20 years, so it’s time to change to a more compassionate and restorative approach,” Nash said. . . 

The war on drugs hasn’t stamped them out but is there any data to say what its impact has been?

Would more or fewer people take drugs if they weren’t illegal?

What about the danger of drug driving and would it be any less if drugs weren’t illegal?

Alcohol and tobacco are legal substances which cause multiple problems.

Condoning recreational drug use as the testing would do, while devoting a lot of resources to persuade people of the ill-effects of smoking and drinking too much alcohol sends a very mixed message.


One year on

October 26, 2018

It’s a year since the Labour-led (or, if you’re pandering to Winston Peters, the Labour-New Zealand First without mentioning the Green Party) – government was formed.

The sun is still rising in the east as it does regardless of who is in government just as most people’s day-to-day lives carry on regardless of the government.

But governments do stuff and what stands out about the first year of this one is that it’s done a very good job of spending money on people who don’t need it.

One of its first big spends was $2.8 billion for fee-free tertiary study, an expensive misdirection of education dollars to people, most of whom would have been studying anyway and who will go on to earn far more as a result of the qualifications they gain.

Another was the $60 a week payment to people who have babies. This is another scattergun approach that goes to everyone regardless of their circumstances which leaves less for those in genuine need.

The winter energy payment to beneficiaries, including superannuitants, was similarly misdirected. Requiring people to apply for it would have weeded out most of those who didn’t need help and making it less expensive to help those who do.

Then we have KiwiBuild – helping a few people on well above the average income buy a house while failing to address the underlying causes of the housing shortage.

Let’s not forget tax breaks for good looking horses and the regional slush fund.

And of course the plethora of working groups – the latest of which is charged with advising on whether to set up another:

Small business owners will be disappointed to hear that the Government’s Small Business Council is too busy to listen right now because it has been asked to advise on establishing a new working group, National’s Small Business spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“In a classic ‘Yes, Minister’ scenario, the Council has been tasked with advising Small Business Minister Stuart Nash on the establishment of a Small Business Institute, or to put it plainly, a working group will advise on whether to create another working group.

“The Council, which will also advise on its own future beyond June 2019, is one of more than 180 working groups hatched by a Government that came to office without having worked out its policies during nine years in Opposition. It prefers to use $135,000 of taxpayer money to pay for this working group.

“Not only that, but we haven’t heard anything from the Small Business Council since it was unveiled by Mr Nash two months ago. Mr Nash has also been silent, other than to tell us this week that he’s off to Australia to meet his counterparts.

“Small business owners might have thought a priority for this Government would be to listen to a group that makes up 97 per cent of all New Zealand firms and employs more than 600,000 Kiwis, given their confidence has slumped to a 10-year low. But that will have to wait. . . 

It’s not only small businesses that are waiting.

One-year on we’re all still waiting for policies which will make a positive difference where it matters.

This government, whatever you call it, has been very good at rhetoric, very good at giving money to people who don’t need it and sadly very good at mistaking more spending for better spending.

 

 

 

 


Deaf and mentally disabled don’t count?

July 16, 2018

Last week we learned the government had withdrawn funding for cochlear implants, this week it’s a pilot for mental health support workers:

The Government’s decision to axe a universally-supported pilot to improve the response to 111 mental health calls is nothing short of disgraceful, especially after Labour pledged to make mental health a priority, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“It has been revealed that Labour has scrapped a pilot in which a mental health nurse would attend mental health incidents alongside police and paramedics to ensure that people in distress receive timely responses that are tailored to their needs.

“Police spend around 280 hours a day responding to mental health calls. They do a good job, but are not mental health professionals so having a mental health nurse deployed to incidents with police would make a real difference.

“The increasing demand on police to respond to mental health crises is set to continue. That’s why the National Government set aside $8 million for the pilot as part of our $100 million mental health package.

“Police Minister Stuart Nash confirmed in answers to written questions the day of the Police Estimates hearing that the pilot would be canned, yet Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the hearing that police were very hopeful it would continue – in front of Mr Nash.

“Mr Nash has admitted that police are dealing with more and more mental health cases. The pilot would have eased pressure on police and improved the quality of the response for those experiencing mental distress.

“It beggars belief that this Government would axe the potentially game-changing pilot which had universal support from those on the frontline dealing with mental health, including mental health expert Nigel Fairley who said in February that the pilot was top of his spending list.

“The Government is again wilfully disregarding the expert advice and belittling calls from police and mental health experts to improve first responder processes.

“People need more help now. The Government must listen to the experts and reinstate funding for this pilot immediately.”

The government has an inquiry into mental health underway and last week announced the setting up of a criminal justice advisory group.

I will be very surprised if both don’t find a link between lack of support for the mentally ill and crime.

Deisntitutionalisation of mentally ill people was a humane policy but it hasn’t been backed up by enough support for many of them and their families.

That is one factor contributing to our high crime and incarceration rates.

Having mental health support people as first responders would not only help people in desperate need, it would make the work of the police less difficult and improve public safety.

Both Labour and the Greens say they stand for the most vulnerable, NZ First says it stands for improved law and order, withdrawing this funding is another example of their actions contradicting their rhetoric.

It is letting down the most vulnerable and their families and will make the work of police much harder.

It is also another example of wrong priorities. Had the government not wasted money on fee-free tertiary education, good looking horses, and other fripperies there would be more than enough for the deaf and mentally disabled.


If only there’d been a teal deal

February 16, 2018

The governing coalition is all at sea over fisheries monitoring:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Simple taxes better taxes

November 24, 2017

Former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen will chair the working group which is taxed with finding a fairier tax system:

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash announced the terms of reference for the group, which will come up with a series of recommendations by February 2019 which the government will then use to inform its policy direction at the next general election. Robertson said he isn’t making a grab for cash. Reforms could be fiscally neutral and he had an open mind on whether a capital gains tax would be necessary.

“The main goal here is to create a better, balanced and fairer tax system for New Zealand,” Robertson said. “Our belief at the moment is that we do not have that.”

The group has been told to consider the economic environment over the next five-to-10 years and how that’s affecting changing business models, demographics and business practices; whether some form of housing, land or capital gains tax would improve the system; whether a progressive company tax with lower rates for small businesses would improve the system and business environment; and what role tax can play in delivering environment benefits. . . 

The group has been told not to look at increasing income tax rates or the rate of GST, inheritance tax, a tax on the family home, or the adequacy of the personal tax system and its interaction with the transfer system. It has been directed to look at technical matters already under review such as international tax reform targeting multinational profit shifting, and the tax department’s business transformation programme.

While the issue of applying GST to goods and services bought online from overseas could be dealt with separately and was not part of the working group’s brief, Robertson said the group could examine exemptions from GST for particular categories of goods. Labour’s coalition partner in government, NZ First, has campaigned for years to remove GST from fruit and vegetables.

Robertson said the group will be able to look at the tax treatment on savings and investment, which has cropped up in previous reviews as an area in need of reform.

The best taxes are simple taxes.

Taking GST off fruit and vegetables sounds simple but it isn’t. If it’s all fruit and vegetables it will include processed ones which might have lots of sugar and salt added. But if it’s only fresh fruit and vegetables luxury imports like pomegranate will be exempt while frozen vegetables won’t.

Our GST is lauded around the world for its simplicity. Once you introduce exemptions it gets complicated, inconsistent and more expensive to administer.

National’s Finance spokesman Steven Joyce says the working group is underwhelming:

“Its Terms of Reference is written so that it will propose one significant thing at the end of it, a Capital Gains Tax,” Mr Joyce says.

“Yet Mr Robertson’s assertion on the current taxation of capital gains in the property market remains incorrect. People who buy and sell houses for a profit have those profits treated as income for tax purposes under the law today.

“So people can only assume once again that his unspoken desire is to introduce a Capital Gains Tax on farms and small businesses.” . . .

“Nothing will come out of this group that Grant Robertson doesn’t want. And all he wants is a recommendation for a Capital Gains Tax.

“Mr Robertson would be better to dispense with the expense to taxpayers and write out his tax policy for the next election when the time comes in the normal manner.”

I’m not opposed to a CGT per se, if it was fiscally neutral through reductions elsewhere. But as with GST, a simple CGT would be a better one.

Once there are exemptions there are loopholes which will be very good for lawyers and accountants but much less so for the aim of balance and fairness.

 


Labour doesn’t understand business

March 1, 2016

Labour said it’s worried about jobs which will disappear but is complaining the increase in the minimum wage isn’t high enough.

The minimum wage is just that, the minimum. It’s a floor not a ceiling.

Any business which can afford to pay its workers more than that can and many will.

But not all work is worth more than that and imposing higher costs on businesses without lowering other costs or increasing returns will put other jobs and whole businesses at risk.

It will also increase the move to replacing people with machines which is supposedly one of Labour’s big worries.

In another example of Labour’s lamentable lack of understanding of business principles, the party wants to force forests to sell logs to local mills.

Forest owners responded:

Forest owners say they are keen to sell their logs to local mills, so long as the terms of sale match those from export markets.

Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes says there have been cases where local mills have been unwilling to do this.

“It’s not just about price. It’s also about the payment risk, the length of the contract and the quality of the logs on offer. Many modern mills have tight specifications for log supply. Logs that don’t meet those specifications are usually exported. This will always be the case,” he says.

Responding to a call from Labour Party MP Stuart Nash that “foreign forest owners” should be forced to sell logs to local mills, Mr Rhodes says owners of forests – foreign, corporate, private companies, iwi, partnerships or individuals — look for terms and conditions that give them the best overall returns.

“In many cases they get only one chance to do this, having spent 27 years growing their trees. This is crucial – forestry is not a one-way bet. Just ask those forest owners, particularly in Northland, who are not replanting after harvest, because log prices are not high enough to justify re-investment.”

Mr Rhodes says it is unfair to single out overseas owners of large plantations as the reason for mill failures.

“It may appeal to the emotions, but does not advance public understanding one iota. Overseas owned forestry companies are among the leaders of the industry. They make significant investments in jobs, worker safety and the environment.”

 

He says forest owners understand the importance of New Zealand having a viable wood processing industry and are partners in the Wood Council which is committed to having more value added to logs in NZ.

“We are talk regularly with politicians from the various political parties about policies that will assist the forest and wood processing industries remain vibrant, viable industries providing employment in the regions. Mr Nash’s proposed policy is not one of them.”

Forestry is a risky business with a long time between planting and payment.

Forest owners aren’t charities. They’re businesses and need good returns to if they’re going to continue in business and employing their own staff.


Apology for a team

July 23, 2014

Today’s general debate began with some apologies:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Hon Member: What about Annette?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, actually, not Annette. She is not really on the team, either, or Phil, because they work hard. They get out in the country, working hard. Clayton is not really on the team. To be fair, I do not think he has ever been on the team. Trevor is not so much on the team—not really on the team. But, aside from Shane, Dover, Andrew, Damien, Rino, Annette, Phil, Clayton, and Trevor, this is my team. This is my team. Well, actually, you have got to exclude Grant, to be fair, because Grant is not really on my team, or David Parker—he is not on the team—or Chris Hipkins. He is not on it. I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. That is my team. It is game on—it is game on. The Labour Party is marching to the election, united as a single team. That is what is going on. And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.


Cunliffe says nah yeah to Internet Mana

July 7, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe isn’t ruling out going into coalition with the Internet Mana Party:

Deal or no deal? That’s a question Labour Party leader David Cunliffe is facing.

He’s trying to have it both ways with Internet Mana, leaving the door open to working with them in government, but not to the cabinet table. . .

Rousing the party faithful, Labour has one goal in mind – to change the Government. That means hello Internet Mana and its cash-cow, Kim Dotcom.

“After the election we will work with whomever we need to work with to change the Government,” says Mr Cunliffe. “We will have our door and phone line open to whoever wants to change the Government.”

It’s a political dead rat Labour may have to swallow. Some are fighting against, wanting to rule out working with Internet Mana in government.

That includes some of his caucus and at least one candidate.

Phil Goff is on record calling the deal a rort, with Dotcom buying influence. Chris Hipkins says they’re “unprincipled sell-outs” and Dotcom is a “discredited German”.

“I don’t have much time for Kim Dotcom at all to be honest,” says Napier candidate Stuart Nash.

Mr Nash says the same about Hone Harawira. . .

Mr Cunliffe knows he may need the Dotcom, Harawira, Laila Harre combo but doesn’t want them too close.

“Frankly I would be surprised to see anybody other than the Greens and perhaps New Zealand First at our cabinet table,” says Mr Cunliffe. “I think that’s extremely unlikely, extremely unlikely, they’ll be ministers – extremely unlikely.”

So that means no seats in cabinet but a deal still possible.

Internet Mana is a political weakness for Labour and Mr Cunliffe is trying to have it both ways. . .

Like a lot of his other positions it’s a yeah nah – or in this case a nay-yeah one.

He doesn’t want them but he’s not ruling them out and neither Hone Harawiara nor Laila Harre are the sort of people to roll over without being thrown a bone or two which may well include a place in the top kennel.

That won’t go down well with some in Labour on principle and also because they are already facing missing out on cabinet places to accommodate Green and NZ First MPs.

It won’t go down well with either of those other prospective partners and it won’t go down well with most voters.


Labour’s listing

May 23, 2014

Labour MP Ruth Dyson is standing for the Port Hills electorate but isn’t seeking a place on her party’s list.

Dyson has dropped down the Labour Party rankings in a series of reshuffles, from No 5 under former leader Phil Goff in 2011, to recently being demoted by David Cunliffe to 28 (out of 34), behind the likes of Kelvin Davis.

Davis is not yet even an MP but will return to the Capital when Shane Jones leaves Parliament.

Barnett said it was “not unusual” for MPs not to chase list placings. . . .

He was never on the list when he was an MP and Lianne Dalziel didn’t seek a list place three years ago. Nor did Damien O’Connor who objected to the process being run by selection process run by “self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays”.

Labour’s candidate in Napier, Stuart Nash isn’t seeking a list place this time either.

Dyson’s move was announced at a regional list selection meeting in Christchurch on Sunday, which Barnett said was “relaxed”. He believed the move was tactical, with Port Hills always a tightly contested seat.

“It’s not unusual for somebody in a seat which is going to be a pretty tight, hard race to focus entirely on being an electorate candidate,” Barnett said.

“My sense [speaking to Dyson] was the consideration was entirely about the electorate . . . It’s always been a tight seat for the 20 years that she’s been there; it’s the nature of that part of the city.” . . .

National won the party vote in the seat at the last election and boundary changes have made it far more marginal.

But under MMP, it is never entirely about the electorate.

Electorate votes get a candidate into parliament but it’s the list vote which gets a party into government.

Opting off the list can send a message to voters that if they want the candidate, they have to give them their electorate vote.

But this also reinforces the message that all’s not well on the not so good ship Labour, that candidates have no confidence in the list ranking process and emphasises the lack of unity in the party and caucus.

The nautical definition of listingis a tendency for a boat to tilt or lean to one side owing to an unstable load or ballast.

If it lists too far it can start losing cargo and eventually tip over.

Labour’s lurch to the left could be described as listing to port which ought to please Dyson who is one of its more left-wing MPs but she has decided to jump overboard from the list.

It could just be a message for voters to support her with their electorate votes. It could also be showing she doesn’t trust her party to give her the support she’s seeking from voters.


Labour u-turn on HB water storage

May 16, 2013

A big increase in irrigated land is supporting increased agricultural production

The irrigated land area has increased in the past five years by an area the size of lakes Taupo and Te Anau combined, Statistics New Zealand said today.

The total irrigated land in New Zealand increased by 102,000 hectares between June 2007 and 2012, new information from the 2012 Agricultural Production Census shows. “Canterbury had the biggest increase in irrigated area, with an extra 60,000 hectares since 2007 – this alone covers an area the size of Lake Taupo,” agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said. Other regions to gain more irrigated area were Southland and Manawatu-Wanganui. This increase in irrigated land has helped support increases in agricultural production.

Total dairy numbers also significantly increased, from 5.3 million in 2007 to 6.4 million in 2012. “The additional dairy cows will produce around four times the total amount of milk that New Zealanders consume each year,” Mr Hill said. Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese increased by 27 percent in the last five years.

Regions that had significant shifts in dairy numbers between 2007 and 2012 included Canterbury, with an increase of 445,000 dairy cattle, Southland, with an increase of 238,000, and Otago, with an increase of 118,000. . .

That increase in production means a lot more jobs, more resilient and secure communities and more export income.

The experience in North Otago shows that the economic and social gains don’t have to come at the cost of the environment.

You’d think a party which says it supports economic growth and wants more employment opportunities would understand the benefits and support more development, but Labour doesn’t.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says he is shocked at the Labour Party’s u-turn on supporting the Ruataniwha water storage scheme in Hawke’s Bay, despite previously indicating their support.

“The proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme has the potential to irrigate an extra 25,000 hectares in Hawke’s Bay. This would be a major boost to exports, jobs and growth in the region.

“In October last year Labour MPs Shane Jones and Damien O’Connor visited the site and said it made a “very good case” and that “It is an obscure part of the country that [will cope] with such a large structure.”[i]

“Now they have been over-ruled by Stuart Nash, a rejected ex-MP who says “…Labour will not be funding water storage schemes if elected in 2014…”

“This is a slap in the face for farmers and Hawke’s Bay. I would have thought the severe drought this summer has made the need for this type of project even more obvious.

“The drought has highlighted that we don’t have a water shortage in New Zealand, but a shortage of storage options. We only capture two per cent of the rainfall that falls on New Zealand with the rest running out to sea.

“Water storage can have real environmental benefits. Increased river flows means more water for recreational users in summer, and improved habitats for fish and birdlife.

“This is why former Fish & Game regional manager and senior freshwater ecologist at the Cawthron Institute, Iain Maxwell, has come out publicly in support of the scheme.

“Labour are anti-progress and don’t care about jobs and investment in provincial areas. They are opposed to any new mining, energy and irrigation projects, and want to bring in a capital gains tax and an enlarged emissions trading scheme which would hammer rural communities,” says Mr Guy.

The Government is investing $80 million this year into a new Crown company to act as a bridging investor for irrigation projects. In total, up to $400 million will be invested in regional-scale schemes to encourage third-party capital investment.

The Government is also funding $35 million towards the Irrigation Acceleration Fund to help suitable projects reach the prospectus-ready stage. Last year the IAF and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council jointly funded a $3.3m feasibility study of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project.

The drought has had a huge economic, social and environmental impact on the regions affected.

Canterbury and North Otago were insulated from the worst effects of the long hot, dry summer because of extensive irrigation.

The need for irrigation in Hawkes Bay should be obvious and it isn’t difficult to put a case for the government to help schemes get underway with for example a loan to cover the costs until the water is fully allocated.

This is just another example of labour saying it wants more growth and jobs but not supporting initiatives that will provide them/

 


Poll of polls shows Labour’s slide and strategic stupidity

September 8, 2011

The Herald’s poll of polls shows Labour’s support sliding down since July.

Three percentage points doesn’t sound like much but it would cost a couple of list MPs,  Stuart Nash and Steve Chadwick, their seats.

One is a first termer, the other should have retired gracefully.

This highlights the strategic stupidity in ranking their list early.

Had the party waited, as it could have safely done since the election date was announced in February, it might have used polls as an excuse to prune some of its deadwood.

Since it didn’t, it is looking increasingly more likely the part will keep the people who ought to have fallen on their swords at the expense of newer MPs who would have much more credibility in selling a fresh message.


Labour doesn’t understand own CGT proposal

August 12, 2011

Does Labour understand it’s own capital gains tax proposal?

Trans Tasman says they don’t:

In a press statement issued August 3, Labour’s finance spokesman David Cunliffe stated categorically “KiwiSaver funds will not incur capital gains tax on their share investments under Labour’s policy proposals. KiwiSaver funds which invest in shares are already taxed as portfolio investments entities (PIEs) at the PIE rate of 28%, or as widely-held superannuation funds taxed at 30%.”

Revenue spokesman Stuart Nash added “in neither case would the KiwiSaver fund attract additional capital gains tax,as tax is already paid on a trading basis.”

Trans Tasman says that’s incorrect:

One of the big attractions of KiwiSaver funds is they do NOT pay tax on share _trading gains.
Based on a written response from Cunliffe to the Shareholders’ Association on July 20, in circumstances where currently no tax is payable on capital gains, the 15% CGT would apply under Labour’s proposal. So KiwiSaver funds would suffer CGT on share trading gains, which are currently exempt from CGT, at the rate of 15%. And where Labour says PIEs are taxed at 28%, the maximum rate, they are actually taxed at the rate of the investor, which could be lower than 28%, ie at 10.5%, or 17.5%. Widely-held superannuation funds are taxed at 28%, not the 30% rate, as Cunliffe contended.

One of the reasons simple tax rules are better is that they are easier, and less expensive to administer and more difficult to avoid.

If Labour’s CTG is so complex it’s own MPs don’t understand it, how will the IRD, accountants, lawyers and individual taxpayers get on?


Tough tax talk fail – updated

May 18, 2011

Are farmers paying enough tax? the headline asks.

The answer Labour’s revenue spokesman Stuart Nash wants is no but his tough tax talk just shows how little he understands business and tax.

The average dairy farmer pays less tax than a couple on the pension – raising questions about whether the sector touted as the backbone of the economy is paying its fair share.

A couple on a pension doesn’t usually employ several people, produce anything incurring the costs associated with that and earn export income as farmers do, all of which make a positive contribution to the economy in addition to any tax paid.

As the Government prepares one of the tightest Budgets in recent years, cutting into middle-class family benefits and KiwiSaver subsidies, new figures suggest the cuts will hit those also shouldering the greatest tax burden – wage and salary earners.

Inland Revenue Department figures provided to Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash show that, in the latest full year for which figures were available, the average tax paid by dairy farms was $1506 a year, despite an average Fonterra payout understood to be well over $500,000.

 The payout is a gross figure, tax is paid on income after expenses which include wages, repairs, maintenance, power, fuel and interest. If you’re heavily indebted as many dairy farmers are there’s little if anything left after all that on which tax is due.

The figures also show that more than half – 9014 – reported a loss for the 2009 year and 2635 reported trading income of between $1 and $20,000.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English said he was not surprised by the figures.

“The reason why there’s not much tax being paid is because there hasn’t been much money made. The average dairy farmer … made a cash loss of $50,000.”

This is why most farmers are using this year’s good returns to pay down debt. Too many took advantage of relatively easy credit, found costs rose faster than income and made little if any profit.

The sensible ones have learned from this and are taking a more Presbyterian approach to their businesses. 

Of the nearly 72,000 companies in the primary sector, nearly 40,000 were unprofitable.

This  includes sheep and beef farmers who’ve have had a series of very bad years. But making a loss in one, or even a few years, doesn’t make a business unprofitable. Most businesses in the establishment and development stages make losses. That’s even more likely in primary industries which are subject to so much variation in climate and markets.

“Either we have a sector in dire financial trouble or the sector is simply writing off a lot of income against expense and not paying tax,” Mr Nash said. “I hope it’s the latter. If they are facing dire financial trouble then we as a nation are in the poo.”

When you’re in business you  are legally allowed to write income off against expenses – providing they’re business related ones and anyone who tries to get away with non-business related claims won’t get far.

Mr English said the primary sector was responsible for 66 per cent of exports but, for each dollar earned overseas, only 6c went to the farmer. “So the other 94c goes in rates to the local councils, road user charges … all the cost structures around getting that kilo of meat from the farmgate to the shore …”

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said the figures released by Mr Nash did not raise any policy issues. The $26m tax mentioned came from those who identified themselves as in dairying, he said.

Those not classified by industry paid another $1.5b in tax and a significant number would be dairy farmers.

“We don’t think the [tax] figure is as low as $26m by any stretch of the imagination.”

There has been a problem of low profitability in the last few years. But most farmers have got the message the government is sending – consumption fuelled by borrowing isn’t sustainable. They’re containing costs, paying off debt and most will be paying a lot more tax on this season’s income.

Busienss NZ says the claims are misleading:

Operating costs and business debt shouldered not only by farms but all businesses are reflected in their level of taxes paid, says BusinessNZ.

Commenting on claims by Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash that dairy farmers pay less tax than a salary earner earning $50,000 a year, BusinessNZ said the comparison was misleading.

“Businesses have income structures that take into account the cost of doing business. This is a cost not borne by a salary earner.

“Farm businesses face capital investment and depreciation servicing costs, debt costs, feed costs and labour costs, in the context of fluctuating cash flows often affected by weather, necessitating further debt for operating costs before receiving end of year payouts.

“This means that many businesses would not have the $50,000 income that is being used as a comparison.

“Comparing this situation to an employed person’s $50,000 income – that does not have to account for operating and business debt costs – is not a valid comparison.”

Peter Dunne says dairy farmer tax headlines simply wrong:

Media headlines today comparing dairy farmers’ tax bills with those of the average wage earner were based on “an inexcusable fudging of turnover and income”, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today.

“This is a classic case of comparing apples and oranges – the media and the Opposition have conveniently ignored the fact that businesses, including farmers, are not taxed on turnover, they are taxed on the income they have as profit,” Mr Dunne said.

“The particular instance cited was for 2008-2009, when dairy farmers received significantly lowered Fonterra pay-outs, and were servicing very high debt levels across the sector at high interest rates.

“Federated Farmers has stated that the average dairy farmer made a $50,000 cash loss in that year. In that case, pointing to $500,000 incomes is patently ridiculous. Again it is the difference between turnover and profit,” Mr Dunne said.

He said that suggestions of the Government going soft on any businesssector did not fit with the $119.3 million allocated over four years in Budget 2010 to clamp down on tax evasion.

Turnover, income- what’s the difference when you’re chasing headlines?


8 new names on Labour list, but where?

August 31, 2008

TV3, The Herald and Stuff all carry news that the Labour list had eight new faces who were promoted over some sitting MPs.

However, none have the whole list nor do they say where the newcomers are placed on it. The Labour website is paid for by parliamentary services so won’t mention candidates either.

On the running average of polls Labour is likely to have no more MPs after the election and may have fewer so Helen Clark will have the task of keeping disaffected MPs in line to add to her troubles.

The new people on the list are:

Rajen Prasad, former Race Relations Conciliator and Chief Families Commissioner;  Jacinda Ardern, a senior policy adviser to British Home Secretary Sir Ronnie Flanagan; Raymond Huo a lawyer and writer;  Phil Twyford, former global head of policy for Oxfam;  Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont;  Maori education advocate Kelvin Davis; Carmel Sepuloni,  an equity manager at Auckland University; and Stuart Nash, who stood in Epsom last election and if memory serves me right conetested and lost the selection for Napier.

I wonder if the CTU will have the same problems with their secretary standing for Labour as the EPMU does with Shawn Tan standing for Act?

Update: I see on Keeping Stock that I should have checked Scoop which has the full list.

Exactly who gets in on the list depends on the party vote and which canidates further back on the list win seats because each seat won puts those in front of them on the list back a slot.

On current polling anyone past the mid 30s will be unlikely to get in unless they win a seat which could include some MPs.

Damien O’Connor at 37 followed by  Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher, Dave Hereora to  Louisa Wall at 43 will be unlikely to still be in parliament unless they win seats. Lesley Soper doesn’t have a show at 77 and unless she requested to be in a totally unelectable position it’s an insult to put a sitting MP so low.


Labour list a test for Clark

July 22, 2008

Ranking a party list is never easy, but it is even more difficult when polls suggest that the election might result in a party having fewer MPs in parliament.

Colin James  discusses the test facing Helen Clark over Labour’s list in this morning’s Herald:

The question for Clark is whether she will assert her authority to insist on a bold list that cleans out has-beens and injects the abundant energy ready in the wings or leaves too much of it waiting for 2011. And will that list reflect closely her politics or can she inject diversity (by, for example, getting business-experienced Stuart Nash, Epsom candidate in 2005, well placed)?

Clark has promoted 40-somethings in her Cabinet and they are starting to show through, though too late to impress voters. Of the 15 MPs elected in 2005 who are retiring one way or another, seven vacate electorate seats. New candidates should win at least six. All but two of those candidates are 47 or under, which is the rising half of the electorate.

But if all sitting MPs are given priority places on the list, there is little room for new blood there unless Labour gets 38 per cent – 35 per cent if New Zealand First doesn’t make it back into Parliament and 1 per cent less if Damien O’Connor loses West Coast-Tasman.

For Labour to be sure of getting people like Chinese lawyer Raymond Huo, ex-Oxfam heavy Phil Twyford (slotted eventually to follow Clark into Mt Albert), rising youngster Jacinda Ardern, promising Maori Kelvin Davies and Nash, some of the half-dozen or so underwhelming list MPs need demotion.

But demoting sitting MPs risks destabilising caucus and the last thing Clark needs is tetchy MPs whose high opinion of themselves is not reflected by their places on the list.

But a leader’s legacy is not just action while leader. It is also what is set up for the next leader. Clark sometimes surprises. Her list will be a test.

And it will show if how she handles her short term political needs when they’re in conflict with the long term health of the party.


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