Red Alert

Archive for May, 2012

The real John Key

Posted by on May 31st, 2012


Have a read of the piece Joanne Black wrote in The Listener in 2005 where she laid out Key’s back story and portrayed him as an egalitarian hero.

The reality has turned out somewhat differently. Perhaps the fact that he chose to send his kids to private schools should have rung warning bells then for our public education system.

English catches up with Budget changes

Posted by on May 31st, 2012

At the start of question time today, I wondered why Bill English didn’t front for questions in Parliament.  I knew his planned trip to speak at the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce was postponed due to airplane issues.  I figured he must be stuck in Wellington with time on his hands.

Perhaps he didn’t want to personally front up and admit he’d got it wrong in a previous interview about the budget. 

So in Parliament today, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne fronted on Mr English’s behalf and admitted the Finance Minister had not understood the Child Tax Credit changes his Government rammed through under budget urgency.  Dunne confessed that Mr English had got it totally wrong in the Post-budget radio  interview on the changes to the child tax credit, labelled ‘the paperboy tax’.

Mr English said in the interview that interest on savings would not be taxed under the new regime – when in fact the opposite is true.

The frightening thing is key government Ministers do not appear to know what was happening in the Budget.

They have already backed down on some of the teacher changes, taking money from contingencies to cover that gaffe. Now they’re admitting they didn’t understand their own tax policy either.

We need pro-growth tax changes in New Zealand. This Government prefers tinkering with a system that is not working, and what is becoming increasingly clear is that they are not even on top of their tinkering.

Clear as mud

Posted by on May 31st, 2012

Hekia Parata was asked a number of questions in the House today about her decision to increase class sizes, particularly for intermediate schools. I’ll blog a bit more about the insights we got from these questions over the weekend, but for now you can take a look and judge for yourself.

An interesting idea

Posted by on May 31st, 2012

I’ve just been sent the following paper by Labour Party member Perce Harpham. Perce is exploring the ideas around a fixed weekly or  fortnightly payments, or “Citizens Dividend”. As well as an asset tax.

I don’t necessarily endorse all these ideas, but it’s good to see some healthy debate and new thinking. Keen to hear what you think.


Filed under: finance, Tax

Ministers just didn’t do the work

Posted by on May 30th, 2012

It took nearly 10 minutes of back and forth in the House today for the Education Minister, Hekia Parata, to admit that she hadn’t even asked for a list of the schools that would lose or gain more than one teacher as a result of her changes to teacher:pupil ratios before she took her proposal to Cabinet.

Quite frankly, this is just not good enough. Hekia Parata took a policy to Cabinet, and it was approved and announced in the Budget, without any Minister taking the time to look at what the actual impact would be on individual schools. If that’s the level of scrutiny the National government are applying to their cost-cutting proposals, it’s no wonder it’s all turning into such a mess.

It simply defies belief that Hekia Parata would come up with a policy that could spell and end to intermediate school education as we know it without doing the most basic analysis. And this from someone who has spent a lifetime as a senior public servant. She should know better. Too much more of this and she’ll end up making Anne Tolley look positively competent by comparison.

Spin, damned spin, and Steven Joyce

Posted by on May 30th, 2012

In response to parliamentary oral question 7 today, economic development Minister Steven Joyce tried to deflect today’s announced cut to New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) 2012 growth forecast to a “stagnant” 1.5%, by saying this was all due to the supposed increase in the domestic savings rate.

Perhaps he was hoping that, as the NZIER publication is subscription-only, it was not going to be available to the Opposition, or to the public, and we would be unaware of his spin.

The problem for him, though, is I had the report in my hand and then I sought to table it.

National withheld leave for me to do so, to prevent you from judging for yourself.

In the report, under the heading “Half way through seven years of famine”, the overview states:

“The economy is stagnant. There is little economic growth and the outlook is challenging…”

NZIER ascribes this to six main drivers:

  1. No interest rate increases – due to growing global risks – resulting in possible Reserve Bank of New Zealand rate cuts if Europe’s crisis worsens. (NB: lower interest rates are not normally seen as an impediment to growth);
  2. Fiscal headwinds – the Government is “withdrawing stimulus” and this will “slow the pace of economic growth”;
  3. Slowing global growth – arguing the Government is over-banking on optimistic growth scenarios in Australia and China;
  4. Migration drain – noting the “net (e)migration is a persistent drain. This is hollowing out ..young people.. and will get worse as baby boomers age”;
  5. Household saving – “For households the economic picture will remain drearily similar. There will be few new jobs and wages will eke out small gains compared to living costs”;
  6. Businesses need to tread cautiously – “Because the economy will be flat, growth in sales must be from increased market share. (NB: by definition, this is a zero-sum game).

The NZIER report is cogent and sobering. It shows that the long-promised recovery is still just as far away as ever.

What it does not say is that the stagnant economy results from increased saving, or even substantially so.

To say New Zealanders are saving their way to recession is also sickeningly out of touch with the vast bulk of New Zealanders who are doing it too tough at the moment to be able to put much away.

All in all a case of spin, damned spin – and what Mr Joyce thinks he can get away with in Question Time if no one is checking.

Key Pikes Out

Posted by on May 30th, 2012

The CEO of Solid Energy and some engineers last night told family members of the 29 Pike River miners whose remains are trapped in the mine that there is little hope of recovery. Solid Energy doesn’t own the mine yet but was delegated the tough job of fronting the difficult task. All the families have ever asked for is the truth and if possible a recovery. Time and time again they were given assurances that everything that could be done would be done. AND money wasn’t an issue. Most were suspicious but nothing was presented to families that indicated no hope of recovery but a plan was never developed. The families have hoped and prayed for progress and we offered our support. Why then did Ministers of the Crown who promised so much were unable to front the hard truth when they knew it. The Budget took away the $5M for Pike Recovery so officials and the Prime Minister knew for months. The families deserved to know the truth when it was known not when it was convenient. We pray for and support the families as they now move through another stage of their agonizing grief. Kia kaha

The credibility cut

Posted by on May 29th, 2012

John Key has a problem.

In four long years National has failed to meet almost every economic target it has set for itself.

New Zealand’s economy is shattered. Unemployment is up sharply. 1,000 Kiwis are leaving every week for Australia. Exported goods have just collapsed by a horrific 17%. Now, apparently, students, the sick and the elderly are going to have their pockets picked by the government too.

Yet while some writers have always seen through the spin – economists Bernard Hickey and Gareth Morgan deserve particular mention – Key has kept much of the commentariat on-side by endlessly promising he has a plan for sustained economic growth.

Well no more, because the prime minister’s had a long-overdue credibility cut.

Historians will say Budget 2012 marked a watershed for this National government. They’ll say it’s when John Key lost his cheerleaders in the press; when opinion leaders began to concede National never had any economic literacy, any vision, or any plan. The scribes will write Key off as a typical National prime minister who burdened the poorest and most vulnerable with new taxes, and who slashed every public service he could, for no deeper reason than to fund tax cuts and special deals for the rich. They’ll record how, just like Rob Muldoon, Key lumbered the next Labour government with a destroyed economy and how every New Zealander was the loser from National’s economic vandalism.

Of course I don’t agree with everything the commentators are writing now. Far from it. But what’s changed is they are really testing Key’s spin and reporting their findings unvarnished – and I applaud the country’s journalists for their professionalism.

Take a look for yourself:

  1. “The major problem is that there is no clear economic growth agenda”, Fran O’Sullivan, New Zealand Herald.
  2. “The Budget delivered yesterday by the Minister of Finance, Bill English, had a distinctly underwhelming feel”, New Zealand Herald editorial.
  3. “It was billed as a Zero Budget, and that’s what we got”, Tim Hunter, Fairfax.
  4. “The Budget is contradictory. Fiscal policy will subtract from demand and from growth not just next year but for the next four years”, Brian Fallow, New Zealand Herald.
  5. “As far as ambitious measures to growth the economy, this Budget is a little light”, Corin Dann, TVNZ.
  6. “A fiscal surplus is not a growth strategy. While the Budget does allocate more money to science and innovation, the restraint on spending has meant the Government is unable to make the kind of quantum leap in industry assistance that would have justified the amalgamation of several Government departments into the new ‘super’ economic development ministry”,  John Armstrong, New Zealand Herald.
  7. “The figures are essentially meaningless… It is still forecasting growth of more than 3 per cent by early 2014. Growth has not been that high for four years and is now at a meagre 1.1 per cent. The growth rate is crucial. A single percentage point under the required rate and a $200 million surplus can be a $2 billion deficit before you can say ‘Standard & Poors’. On such flimsy foundations is the central political component of this Budget built”, John Armstrong, New Zealand Herald.
  8. “In the face of the negative realities – which are causing misery in households up and down the country – what English had to offer was a series of tweakings and Peter-to-Paul transfers that plugged a few holes here, and scratched an ideological itch there”, Gordon Campbell, Scoop.
  9. “There has been much speculation over the last 12 months on the merits of a capital gains tax and the anomaly that its absence presents from a tax policy perspective. New Zealand is unique among OECD countries in this regard… if there was ever a time to introduce a CGT it is now”, Greg Thompson, National Business Review.
  10. “Bill English’s fourth Budget pinches the pennies, raids nearly every piggy bank and even plunders the Government’s rainy-day fund. No-one, it seems, is safe – even kids with an after-school job have been frisked for extra revenue to help fill Government coffers”, Tracey Watkins, Fairfax.

So all in all it’s a thumbs-down for Key.

Please tell us what Budget 2012 has meant for your family.

This week on Back Benches (only 5 more episodes before it’s axed)

Posted by on May 29th, 2012

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

IT’S OUT!:  The Budget is out and now it’s time to wade through hundreds of pages to sort out the candy from the coal. There’s not much fun in fiscal responsibility. Yes, there is more money for Science and R&D, Housing and Education but there’s been some robbing of Peter to save Paul. We need to make tough choices, but are we robbing the wrong Peter and saving the wrong Paul?

A 25% REDUCTION:  Corrections Minister Anne Tolley has promised a 25% reduction is prisoner reoffending. Is this doable or just a number pulled out of the air?  How do we reduce recidivism?  New drug and alcohol treatments in prisons, rehabilitation services & education and job training are part of the plan. But will that be enough to do the trick?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 30th of May. Our Panel: Green Party MP Dr. Kennedy Graham, Labour MP Maryan Street, New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams and National MP David Bennett.

How come the National Govt isn’t fronting up on TVNZ 7?

Posted by on May 28th, 2012

Three public meetings have been held so far on the vexed issue of Saving public broadcasting in NZ.

On 30 June, the government shuts down funding to TVNZ 7 and it will cease to exist.

In Auckland, more than 350 people turned up to a public meeting with standing room only. In Wellington more than 400 attended, in a packed hall. Last Friday night almost 200 people turned up in Nelson, which is, I understand, a rather unusually large turnout.

Tonight’s meeting in Christchurch is likely to be similar.

There are meetings coming up in Palmerston North, Dunedin and Hamilton. At least four more meetings have been planned for parts of  Auckland in the coming weeks.

To date, the meetings have had speakers from Labour, the Greens, NZ First and various academics. At tonight’s Chch meeting, the Maori Party will have a speaker. Peter Dunne and I have conversed on Twitter about the need to retain a public television channel in NZ

National is conspicuously absent from the discussions. Their tactic of ignoring the issues they don’t want the public to focus on is making them more conspicuous.

Carers wages – enlightened or archaic?

Posted by on May 27th, 2012

A very courageous report from HRC equal employment opportunities commissioner Dr Judy McGregor was released today. This exceptional woman worked undercover in the elder care industry to find out for herself what is happening. We need more of this. There is too much pontificating from so-called experts who never get down and dirty and find out the real story.  If they did, they might be giving different advice to the government.

Dr McGregor’s report describes the work of aged care workers as a form of modern-day slavery.

It offends against human decency. The reliance on the emotional umbilical cord between women working as carers and the older people they care for at $13-$14 an hour is a form of modern-day slavery. It exploits the goodwill of women, it is a knowing exploitation. We can claim neither ignorance nor amnesia.

McGregor goes on to question why DHBs pay equivalent health care workers in the Public Health Sector up to $5 an hour more, when both hospitals and aged care are funded by the government.

There’s a structural and legislative answer to that. Years ago, before the National Government of the 1990’s, there was an industry award for Aged Care workers (and Hospital Caregivers), but that was decimated with the labour market reforms in 1990. Thousands of aged care workers in the sector lost their minimum pay rates, overtime pay, weekend penal rates and qualification allowances. Over time, Religious and Welfare organisations (who weren’t perfect, by the way) exited, handing the sector over to international corporates who dominate aged care today.

So,what did Labour in government do?  We changed the Employment Relations Act to enable multi-employer collective bargaining. That helped workers in the Public Hospital Sector, who managed to win multi-employer agreements. But it wasn’t enough for workers in Age Care, who are mainly women and part-time workers on low wages. Corporates resisted collective bargaining. Ryman Healthcare, for example. who has reported a huge profit, successfully evaded the collective bargaining requirements of the Employment Relations Act, reportedly paying up to $300 an hour for an advocate to sit at the table stymying good faith requirements.

Labour’s insistence that DHBs pass on targeted funding to providers giving an increase of $1 an hour to aged care workers ended up in Court. Some workers got the money ; others didn’t. The behaviour of the sector has demonstrated there is much more needed. Our 2011 work and wages policies for industry agreements would have made a difference, but one-eyed commentators from mainstream media didn’t get the picture.

Maybe they will now, when they understand that the reliance on the goodwill and commitment of low paid workers doesn’t mean better wages and conditions.

I’m hoping that if Judy McGregor talks to Kate Wilkinson soon she will explain that the government’s plans for  big reforms to collective bargaining will make it worse, not better for aged care workers.

Like it or not, there’s no way this issue can be separated from the rights of aged care workers to have a voice, to collectively bargain and for a fair rate across the industry to be set – as it once used to be, in, according to National and some media commentators, the dark old days.

Doesn’t seem so archaic to me.

Samoa Language Week 2012

Posted by on May 27th, 2012

Samoa Language Week 2012 offers the perfect opportunity to discuss the future of Samoa-New Zealand relationship given that this year we also celebrate Samoa’s 50th Anniversary of Independence on 1stof June, and the 50th anniversary of the Samoa-New Zealand Treaty of Friendship on 1st of August.

Many New Zealanders probably aren’t aware that New Zealand administered Samoa for 48 years and that period gave rise to a unique Treaty of Friendship which was signed between the two countries in recognition of a ‘special relationship’ once Samoa had become the first Pacific island nation to become independent in 1962.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary there is growing discussion within the Samoan community in New Zealand to revisit the meaning of the ‘special relationship’ between New Zealand and Samoa, and what that ‘special relationship’ means for Samoans both in New Zealand and Samoa.

The younger generation are asking questions as to which country benefits the most from the Treaty of Friendship and what, if, any are the financial implications given New Zealand’s formal apology to Samoa in 2002 that included an admission to the errors of past New Zealand Administrators which caused the deaths of thousands of Samoa.

In 1918 the New Zealand authorities administering Samoa allowed the ship Talune carrying passengers with influenza New Zealand to dock in Apia. As the flu spread, some twenty two percent of the Samoan population died. The New Zealand authorities refused the offer of assistance from the American Samoa health officials.  This tragedy is recorded as one of the worst epidemics in the world, and was preventable.

New Zealand authorities were also responsible for the deaths of at least nine Samoans, including Tupua Tamasese Lealofioaana III with fifty others injured, when armed New Zealand police fired upon a peaceful march of non-violent protesters in Apia in December 1929.

I am encouraging and supporting Lemi Ponifasio to roll out a series of MAU Forums under the theme of Samoa mo Taeao or Samoa for Tomorrow to lead these discussions about these future issues.

Refugee plight not something we really understand

Posted by on May 26th, 2012
Visiting Ramtha, Jordan.

Visiting Ramtha, Jordan.

I was one of four New Zealand parliamentarians who visited Ramtha last week, a small Jordanian town on the border with Syria.

The town houses a United Nations transit camp for refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and we arrived to meet some of the 149 who had crossed the border under cover of darkness a few hours earlier.

The televised pictures we view from thousands of kilometres away in the comfort of our lounges do little to convey the raw human emotion of the plight of those seeking to escape the killings which continue daily in Syria.

One man who spoke English tugged on my sleeve and asked how we could help.  He pointed to his five young children all aged under eleven, and his wife.  She was petite and looked too young to be a mother.  He explained that her mother had just been killed by tank fire and as he translated my condolences her eyes welled with tears.

The family had walked and hitched rides for 380 kilometres from their home in Homs.  They were glad to be safe but uncertain as to what the future would hold for them.  They had left Syria without money or possessions.

Another man displayed a freshly bandaged stump, the remains of an arm which had been blown off by shell fire.

We visited two other longer stay refugee camps.  One was for single men at a sports stadium.  Crowded into an area not designed for human rehabilitation, and without sponsorship to leave the camp, they were effectively imprisoned.  The passion and anger at what the Syrian government had done was palpable. As the weeks pass and frustration grows, it would be easy to see that frustration boil over.

The other camp was for families.  Many were Palestinians who had been living in Syria and who had been made refugees for a second time.  They faced greater difficulties than Syrians in gaining the sponsorship needed to leave the camp.  Families were squeezed into small concrete block rooms with very basic shared facilities.  What would the world do to help them, we were asked by the women.

Spare a thought for the Jordanian government in all of this.  A small and poor country of just six million, it has already absorbed 1.8 million Palestinian refugees from the wars of 1948 and 1967.  Following the US invasion of Iraq, it took another more than 500,000 Iraqi refugees.  Now it is having to accept tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.  This movement will turn from a flow to a flood if the civil war in Syria deteriorates further.  New Zealand’s assistance to refugees by comparison numbers only up to 750 a year.

What should the international community be doing to tackle the cause of the problem?  President Bashar al Assad is a member of a minority group in Syria, the Alawites, who are Shiite Muslims.  His hold on power rests on his control over the instruments of force in Syria, the Army and the Police.  His father killed tens of thousands of his own people to preserve his power and privilege, and the current President is doing the same.

In an uneven battle against rebels, an estimated 13,000, mainly civilians, have already died.  Efforts by the Arab League and UN representative, Kofi Annan, to broker a ceasefire and a peaceful solution have so far failed.

Russia has to this point supported the Syrian regime along with Syrian Shiite allies, Iran and Iraq.  Lack of international consensus has diminished the UN’s ability to pressure al Assad to stop human rights abuses and the killing of civilians.

Under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, the UN to be effective needs to be able to act – with sanctions, with overwhelming diplomatic pressure, with no fly zones and ultimately the removal of a despotic ruler if everything else fails.  How many more thousand will die before there is the agreement and the will internationally for this to happen?

The Paper Boy/Girl Tax Grab

Posted by on May 25th, 2012

A revealing level of blame shifting and spin in John Key’s response to the Paper Boy/Girl Tax Grab. Here’s what he said in the NZ Herald today

Mr Key – a paperboy in his youth – said he found out about the move at Cabinet on Monday and did not regret it despite the publicity.

He found out on Monday? After the Budget had gone to print? Definitely a game of blame Bill going on here. I imagine the conversation at Cabinet on Monday must have gone something like this, ” Ah, John, we’ve got this thing called the Budget on Thursday. Nothing much for you to worry about….”

But, wait, there’s more Mr Key goes on to say

A lot of people didn’t know they were entitled to them so they didn’t bother claiming. The amounts were fairly small and overall we have been trying to clean up the tax code

Yes, that’s right the amounts are “fairly small”, that is the point! It’s tax on children who earn less than $45 a week, of course the amounts are small. That’s why the credit is there, so they can get those very small amounts back.

And yes some people didn’t bother claiming, but obviously quite a few did given that the government gets $14 million out of this.

What a load of spin and nonsense for a piece of penny pinching from the pockets of paper boys and girls.

Filed under: Budget, Tax

By The Numbers

Posted by on May 25th, 2012

68,800 – The number of children whose odd jobs are going to be chased by the tax man. ‘The paperboy tax’.

25,333 – The number of words used by the media to describe a Budget of zero ideas.

150 – Million of the proceeds from selling state assets will fund a makeover of the New Zealand high commission in London.

17 – Per cent drop in exports in the last year, just days after John Key said exports are rising.

8.2 – Million to make more than 200 Defence Force staff redundant.

6 – Minutes – the amount of time John Key spent in his 18 minute budget speech actually talking about the contents of the budget.

Growing tall tales

Posted by on May 25th, 2012

Yesterday Bill English again painted a rosy picture of a New Zealand economy growing well compared to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately it’s yet another tall tale from National.

This country desperately needs sustainable economic growth to create jobs and incomes, to give families hope, and to reverse the brain drain.

But after four long years of the John Key government there is still almost zero growth.

New Zealand is not doing well by international standards. Our annual GPD growth is lagging behind Australia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Germany, Turkey, Korea, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, Finland, Austria, Bolivia, Estonia, Iceland, Israel, Chile and many of the Asian economies.

Actually we’re going backwards because yesterday Statistics NZ said exports have plummeted by a horrific 17%. That’s a dire reflection on the government’s lack of a recovery plan, and it’s an indictment on economic development minister Steven Joyce’s $120 million of cuts to the economic development budget.

What about National’s other tired tall tale; the idea that growth will magically ramp up any minute now?

Well we’ve been hearing this nonsense for years. Last year English promised 3.2% growth, but Treasury says it’s probably been less than 1.6%.

Now the finance minister is promising we’ll have 2.6% growth in the next year – and he’ll conjure up billions to get rid of the deficit too.

The reality is Mr English can pick the pockets of every paperboy and papergirl in the country, he can raise the prescription charges, he can force the students out of their training, he can wave goodbye to thousands and thousands more kiwis at the departure lounge, he can cut and cut and cut.

But his tall tales still won’t be true and National will still be a zero government.

Over the next few weeks I will be blogging more on why National’s growth performance is inadequate, why their GDP forecasts are thus rosy and unreliable, why the Zero Budget provides zero hope of any improvement, and what some alternatives might look like.


A Dear John Letter …..

Posted by on May 25th, 2012

dear john2

Yesterday National delivered a budget that offered zero opportunities for young New Zealanders. Removing the tax credit on part-time work for young people, restricting student allowances and increasing student loan repayments are all examples of how young people are paying for National’s deficit of ideas. Nothing was presented yesterday to offer young people hope for their futures. Rather, what was presented will have even more of our young people scampering for the nearest departure lounge.

Over the last 24 hours my inbox has been running hot with messgaes from young people feeling like they have been abandoned by this Government.

This afternoon I received this email from a constituent of mine. She has also sent it to the Prime Minister. I guess she really means it!

I really don’t have to say anymore – it speaks for itself!


Dear John,
I’m breaking up with you. I can’t handle this anymore. You weren’t my first pick anyway, to be honest. Russel charmed me, Pita and Tariana said nice things, and even Phil was better company. But we ended up together you and I, facing the gloom and doom of an ageing population, a broadening gap between here and the West Island, the ever-looming GFC, and now, the recovery effort here in Christchurch. You were all right to start with; we got on well enough. Your friends aren’t that great. Anne annoyed me when she closed the school down the road from me, Bill is boring, Gerry keeps on eating all the pies, and Banksy’s a liar, plus your perpetual smirk started to wind me up, but mostly, we managed.  

 But this budget John, it’s the breaking point. That’s it. It’s over.

You know how I finish my LLB/BA this year, having worked part time jobs since I was 15, and essentially 7 day weeks for the past 4 and a bit years? You know how I haven’t been eligible for student allowance until very recently when Dad had to stop working? You know how my student loan is currently sitting around 60 K? Yeah, this budget isn’t helping. Cancelling student allowance for postgraduate study? What were you thinking, John?!?

 I don’t know if you know, but I was looking at doing an LLM next year, in some facet of resource management that would actually be useful and productive for the nation.  My husband is currently finishing off his very useful and productive PhD in mechanical engineering, with a little bit to go next year. Our combined student debt is around the 100 K mark. Another year for us without allowance is another 10 K to that debt.  I realise that you used to shuffle huge sums around for Merril Lynch, so 10 K seems like nothing, but can I tell you what this combined debt means for us?

 It means a struggle for a first home. Heck, it might mean no home at all, in current conditions. It means having fewer children, if producing at all. They tell us the right people aren’t having enough offspring. Children are a priority for us, but not if we can’t afford them. Most of all however, this debt means going overseas. Australia beckons, but we were thinking further afield, like Canada. We’re likely to stay there. There’s very little here for us anymore.

 So it comes to this, John. It’s over. You said so much about bridging the gap between here and Australia. Expecting students to take such a hit while expecting them to pay for the ever-increasing superannuation explosion and the resulting problems that that little nutshell is going to have is f*cking stupid, John. Do you expect us to let you back in next election? Forget your sins, expect us to let you ‘change’? Ha, you could only hope. I’ve got a new politician in my life. His name is David. He offers far more than you. Get lost John.

 No longer yours,

A soon to be graduating lawyer and her engineer husband who are leaving NZ – and not looking back.

Urgently taxing toddlers

Posted by on May 25th, 2012

The test of urgent legislation is not just what is in the legislation, but what is not. On both counts this National government should be condemned.

It’s the day after the Budget and Parliament is sitting in urgency to debate new tax legislation. The Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill is apparently so important that National have:

  • Deferred the main Budget Debate;
  • Removed normal select committee review;
  • Imposed a retrospective effect.

So what is this tax bill about?

Is it the secret “base broadening measures”; National’s supposed answer to Labour’s future focussed capital gains tax?

Is it the closing of the major loophole by which half of the wealthiest 100 New Zealanders avoid being on the top tax rate?

Is it reinstatement of the Labour Government’s research and development tax credits, the key tool which was stoking our businesses’ engines of innovation?

Er, no, no and no.

The centrepiece of this Bill is picking the pockets of paperboys and papergirls.  Urgently taxing toddlers, if you will.

It’s laughable that National’s top economic priority is retrospectively stealing the pocket money of 68,000 kids.

But it’s incredibly sad that this is what government in our beautiful country has come to.

National has wrecked New Zealand’s economy.  Just yesterday they unveiled a horrific 17% plunge in exports.  But instead of getting a real plan to deliver a brighter future they’re plotting to tax toddlers.

The zero Budget of 2012 is yet another wasted opportunity for a country desperate for change.  It’s an insult to ordinary Kiwis who are working harder and longer for less and less.  It’s a slap in the face to law abiding families and small business owners who pay their taxes, and who deserve to get ahead instead of being pickpocketed.

New Zealand is losing 1,000 Kiwis every single week.  That’s 50,000+ a year.

Unemployment is up by 50,000+ since National took office.  The number on benefits is up over 50,000 too.

A zero Budget means zero hope for them, and all New Zealanders.

It also means zero pocket money for paperboys and papergirls.

Dopey things like Radio NZ…

Posted by on May 24th, 2012

Well at least it’s out in the open now. The National Government would get rid of Radio NZ if it could.

Speaking in the general debate yesterday, Gerry Brownlee accused the Labour Opposition of “wanting to spend more on dopey things like Radio NZ”

Guilty as charged. Labour doesn’t believe that Radio NZ is dopey. And neither do most of New Zealand. It’s had its funding frozen for the last three years and is doing its best to provide quality services to NZ.

It wasn’t an off the cuff remark, Brownlee glanced at his notes before he said it. I suspect it will come back to bite him.

See the video clip at around 2min 40 sec

38 more days to Save TVNZ 7

Posted by on May 24th, 2012

Save TVNZ7 logo square -compressed

Today’s Budget stripped from the funding for TVNZ 7, New Zealand’s only public television channel. We are about to become one of the few countries in the world without a commercial free TV channel dedicated to the public rather than to commercial interests.

SaveTVNZ7, a group which formed last year to try to save TVNZ7 from being axed by the National Government on 30 June has organised a series of public meetings around the country. Come along if you can.

Tomorrow night’s public meeting is in Nelson at the Trafalgar Pavilion Hall 6-8pm

Meeting details:

– Monday May 28th CPSA building, CPIT, 5 Madras Street campus, Chch city 7-9pm
Palmerston NorthWednesday 6th June– All Saints Church Hall, cnr The Square & Church St
– Thursday 7th June – Barnett Theatre – Otago University,
– June 13th (venue tbc)

If you can, please attend a meeting in your town. If you want a meeting in your community contact myself or Myles Thomas, the SaveTVNZ7 organiser