Red Alert

Archive for the ‘Cost of Living’ Category

We have the power

Posted by on June 8th, 2013

On Friday afternoon my office was contacted by a Plunket nurse in my electorate who had visited a young mum with a 4 month old baby for a regular check. She discovered a very distressed  young woman who was grappling with the fact that her electricity had been disconnected. Her and her partner (who was at work) had a $600 debt which they were trying to clear but couldn’t get on top of.

The Plunket nurse was horrified as the baby was bottle fed. Electricity was essential in the house for heating. She rang the electricity company and was fobbed off. She then rang my office. I sighed, because it is not the first time this has happened. I rang the Chief Executive’s office and within a few hours the problem was rectified and the electricity was reconnected.

I will not name the company here because I was impressed with how quickly the matter was dealt with and because this is not the only energy company where I have had to “go to the top” to sort it out.

There are clear guidelines for medically dependent and vulnerable customers set out by the Electricity Authority following the highly controversial and tragic case of Folole Muliaga, who in 2007 died less than three hours after the electricity supply from state-owned Mercury Energy was disconnected to her house due to an outstanding balance.

These guidelines set out an “enhanced process around disconnections for non-payment, including a range of requirements that retailers should meet before a disconnection can take place”.

I am writing to the company in question to ask them whether they followed these guidelines before they disconnected this young woman’s power. And I will write to the Electricity Authority to point out that I believe they need to pay closer attention to the number of disconnections occurring.

The power bill is a major monthly cost for every household. Prices continue to accelerate upwards. This is a young family trying to make a go of it. They face cost of living increases which are out of their control.

Instead of selling off these energy companies the National Government should be stepping in to ensure that young families don’t get put in these positions. Electricity costs are too high. Electricity companies make huge profits. There’s something sick in our country if we can’t see that and do something about it.

A Labour Government will do something about it. We will bring down the price of electricity by hundreds of dollars a year. It’s got to be done.


Total Employment Change from 2008 Reveals Imminent Crisis

Posted by on February 21st, 2012

Increase in unemployment under National

Increase in unemployment under National

The Household Labour Force Survey Survey report of the December 2011 Quarter released last week revealed that our unemployment rate slipped slightly to 6.3% from 6.6%. While a rate of 6.3% in itself doesn’t necessarily mean we have reached crisis levels, the focus on the overall unemployment rate does conceal detail about our employment situation that if brought to the surface will shine light on what I believe is an immiment crisis looming in our economic horizon.

Since JohnKey’s National took office in November 2008, 53,000 New Zealanders have joined the unemployment ranks. That’s a 54% increase in the number of people unemployed to a total of 150,000. For these people, National’s promise of a ‘brighter future’ has utterly failed to materialise, especially if you have a mortgage and teenage children you are supporting through school.

While the impact of the recession cannot be ignored, the number of people unemployed has actually increased since the recession officially ended in mid-2009. The official unemployment figures only tell part of the story. Many more people are without work but are not counted as being unemployed. Many are described by the Salvation Army as being “discouraged unemployed”. They would like to work and would accept a job offer if given, but they would not be deemed as actively seeking work because for instance looking for work through a newspaper does not meet the threshold of “actively seeking work”. The number of Kiwis jobless has increased by almost 100,000 under National’s watch to now 261,300 people as of December 2011. In the meantime 59,964 people are receiving the Unemployment Benefit as at December 2011 a fall of 7% from 67,084 as of the December 2010.
So is this it? Is this the brighter future promised to all New Zealanders?

Number of people jobless


Higher wages

Posted by on September 25th, 2011

Talking to a young guy yesterday. Knew him when he was at secondary school about a decade ago.

He now lives in Aussie. Not because he wants to but because he feel it is the only way he can get ahead.

Over to watch of few games at RWC and to see family.

Drives a truck.

Earns roughly double what he got here. And then there is the employer funded super on top of that. Cost of living not much different.

His rig is slightly bigger but much more sophisticated than here. He gets lots more training on the job and he reckons he is about three times as productive.

I reckon he has to be more productive because his wages are higher and hs employer trains him more and invests in better capital goods for him to use, in order to make a profit.


Carmel talks about the cost of living

Posted by on August 21st, 2011


Morality tale #1

Posted by on August 14th, 2011

Have come across some interesting pieces in the last couple of days on the issues arising from the UK riots.

The first was written by Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph’s chief political commentator.

He writes:

Something has gone horribly wrong in Britain. If we are ever to confront the problems which have been exposed in the past week, it is essential to bear in mind that they do not only exist in inner-city housing estates.

The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretches right up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police and large parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needs a moral reformation.

Read the rest here. He’s not very complimentary about politicians from both sides of the political spectrum.

Fair enough. We are all accountable. And politicians need to try to practice what they preach, while remembering that they too are human and subject to frailty.

But as Oborne writes, the double standards are extraordinary:

The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.

The tragic truth is that Mr Cameron is himself guilty of failing this test. It is scarcely six weeks since he jauntily turned up at the News International summer party, even though the media group was at the time subject to not one but two police investigations. Even more notoriously, he awarded a senior Downing Street job to the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, even though he knew at the time that Coulson had resigned after criminal acts were committed under his editorship. The Prime Minister excused his wretched judgment by proclaiming that “everybody deserves a second chance”. It was very telling yesterday that he did not talk of second chances as he pledged exemplary punishment for the rioters and looters.

These double standards from Downing Street are symptomatic of widespread double standards at the very top of our society.

Someone tweeted this piece last night saying that what Peter Oborne has written is the moral compass for our time. I reckon there’s something in that.

Hat tip: LM


The curious case of the missing milk (inquiry)

Posted by on August 12th, 2011

I’m feeling somewhat bemused today. I sit on the Commerce Select Committee. I have to be very careful what I say, because under standing orders I’m not allowed to discuss what happened while the committee was “in committee”.

It’s a matter of public record that the committee met yesterday to discuss the terms of reference which will determine the scope of the inquiry.

But when this media release popped into my inbox this morning from the chair, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Lianne
DALZIEL
Commerce Spokesperson

11 August 2011                                                             MEDIA STATEMENT
Commerce Committee milk pricing inquiry

Labour’s Commerce Spokesperson and Commerce Committee chair, Lianne Dalziel, says she understands people will be disappointed that the Committee has not issued a statement about progress on discussions on the terms of reference for the proposed milk pricing inquiry.

“I know there is a high level of public interest around this. However Standing Orders prevent the chair of the Select Committee issuing a statement on behalf of the committee unless that statement is fully authorised by the committee.

“I regret I can say no more than that at this stage,” Lianne Dalziel said.

Contact: Lianne Dalziel 0275 480 644.

Paid for by Vote Parliamentary Service and Authorised by Lianne Dalziel, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

Immediately after the committee finished sitting yesterday, a group of journalists headed towards myself and Lianne Dalziel who remained in the committee room. They asked whether the terms of reference for the inquiry had been determined and what the outcome was.

Lianne replied, in front of other witnesses, including some National Party MPs,  that she could not say until an agreed statement was released, which was expected to happen later that day. Surely this meant it would.

But it didn’t. Instead we get this release above. I wonder what happened in the interim? I’d like to say but my lips are sealed.

However, I just read this story on the Stuff website. Intriguing.


The plan so far…

Posted by on August 8th, 2011

I did a post last night called the poverty trap laying out the bleak situation many people are finding themselves in.

Job losses, rising prices, shrinking incomes. Not a great future for Kiwis, let alone our kids.

Despite the government spin, the economy isn’t in good shape. Look at our government debt and how it has ballooned. And how it will balloon left unchecked.

We need a plan to turn things round. A bold plan to stop our valuable assets being flogged off overseas, to give hard-working Kiwis a break, pay off the country’s ballooning debt and grow our economy. Here’s what we’ve said so far.

People need wages they can live on. A minimum wage that allows people to keep up with the cost of living.

Labour promises a $15 hour minimum wage.

We need to increase our savings and investments in a productive economy. We need to rebuild our economy on the back of exports. Not by selling our assets.

Labour will not sell state assets. You’ll have to wait for policy announcements on the other matters.

We need a fairer tax system where everyone pays their share

The first $5000 of your income, will be tax free.

GST will come off fresh fruit and veges.

Labour will introduce a capital gains tax. It’s predicted the tax will raise $26 billion over 15 years that can be used to pay off
debt, cut taxes for most New Zealanders, save our assets and prepare for the mounting cost of our aging population.

Labour will also put the top tax rate back up to 39 cents for income earned over $150,000.
That’s likely to affect around 2% of the country’s top earners.

A CGT is already in use in nearly all developed countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and United States.

And Labour  will use major government contracts to back New Zealand firms instead of exporting jobs offshore as National is doing.

Cost and quality will continue to be paramount considerations under Labour. But the new procurement policy will in future require companies like KiwiRail anf Govt depts and agencies to consider wider economic benefits rather than just taking a narrow accounting approach. As with CGT, most other countries have strong policies to back local industries and local jobs.

This is for starters. There’s more coming.


The poverty trap

Posted by on August 7th, 2011

Last week a woman came into my office in tears. Not that unusual. She works. Doesn’t earn a lot. Her husband had been laid off. He was receiving a benefit, but it wasn’t much because of her work. He had scored a few hours work in a job where they couldn’t offer full time work, though they valued him.

He had to scale back those work hours because he couldn’t get the benefit and work many hours and the hours didn’t pay enough to enable him to come off the benefit. He’d had to make a choice. He wanted to work. He was donating some hours to the workplace as a result. In order to keep in the game.

They have bills to pay. She was in tears because they’d had to make a decision that week whether to pay the electricity bill or the bank, which was pressuring them to pay some mortgage payments they had been unable to.

It was hard to know what to advise. They simply didn’t have the money. WINZ couldn’t give them any more assistance. I could only see more hardship down the line for these people who were in this position through no fault of their own.

What’s next for them? Having to sell the house, at a price less than they bought it for. Slipping backwards as they head for retirement. Rented accomodation, nothing to hand on to the next generation.

This is the plight of many New Zealanders right now. People struggling. Not much to hope for.

I sometimes despair. According to John Key and Bill English things are looking up. But they’re clearly not for these people and many others like them.

The SST did a good piece today on poverty. If you haven’t; do read it, because it says the new face of poverty isn’t people on benefits, but people on low wages. Every foodbank around the country will nod their head to this. Prices are going up. Wages aren’t. People can’t cope.

People want and need a plan.

This graph says it all really

Col graph 3


I should’ve looked after me teeth

Posted by on July 27th, 2011

In the strange old world of television, its funny what generates a story. Kevin Milne makes an aside in his consumer advice column in Womens Weekly about bunking off your dentist bill (an option he does not recommend) and both our major current affairs shows climb into the cost of dentistry, off the back of an NZ Herald story. A month or so back Jim Anderton launches a fully researched and costed plan for universal access to dentistry, and while it gets some modest coverage, its ignored by TV.

Ah well, at least this is getting the issue debated. There is no doubt that the cost of visiting the dentist is a major issue for many people along with the other increasing costs of daily life, and the low cost options (such as hospital clinics) are unable to cope with demand.

One thing that is interesting to note in the Campbell Live story is that there are DHBs out there that are putting more resources in to make dentist visits more affordable. But the National led government has clearly signalled that they do not see oral/dental health as a priority. They got rid of dental health from the list of targets for DHBs, and the majority of DHBs have responded to that by putting resources into the other target areas. This is a big mistake from the current government in my view.

Labour did make significant advances in the last term of government with getting the mobile school dental clinics into our communities. Access for primary school children (which is still free) has improved. It is harder with teenagers, who are still free until 18. Many dentists do not think that the subsidy they get for treating teenagers under the Combined Dental Agreement is sufficient to meet the costs they face. Anecdotally we hear of practices turning away teenagers, and of course by this stage avoidance behaviour with the dentist is beginning.

It was no surprise in both the TV stories to hear dentists say they were concerned about so-called “socialised dentistry”. They are business people and the government wading into their sector scares them. But the truth is that our current model is not working as it should. 44% of Kiwis are not seeing a dentist annually. Dental problems are a gateway to other health issues, and the long term costs of dealing with those are huge, let alone the personal health impacts.

As ever in health, many of the answers in terms of good oral health lie with actually helping to keep teeth healthy in the first place. Supporting children and teenagers to stay in the habit of good dental care, which includes regular check-ups, oral health education for parents and children, an increased role for dental therapists to provide early intervention and,dare I say it, a wider take-up of fluoridation in our water supply.

But we can not get away from the need to make dental care more accessible, and that means more affordable. Jim’s plan, which he has handed over to Labour, is costly. Up to $1 billion per year when fully implemented. We are looking closely at what we can afford to do, and over how long a period of time. But it is an issue that we have to face up to.


The only poll that matters…

Posted by on June 19th, 2011

Isn’t these ones obviously...

That’s twice in one weekend I’ve linked to a post on The Standard. And written by Rob. What will people think?

Well hopefully, that there are major discrepancies in polls. And there’s really only one that matters. On 26 November.


2 min 38 secs on the national party leader’s plan – have a look

Posted by on June 17th, 2011


The Day

Posted by on May 26th, 2011

A few weeks ago Moby joined with MoveOn.org by starring in and lending his new single “The Day”  to a video that protests attacks on America’s most needy. Moby was protesting against budget cuts that could disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable in America.

For those of you who know who Moby is, this is pretty strong. If you don’t already follow MoveOn.org then you should

Is this what we face?


Budget FAQs #5: Growth Hockey Stick

Posted by on May 19th, 2011

The New Zealand economy has failed to fire under National.  As a result successive rosy Treasury forecasts have been revised downwards.  The starkest example is between last year’s May Budget and December Half Year Update.  

  2010 GDP Track Revision

Implications: The  growth upturn “hockey stick” just keeps getting pushed out into the future.  The so-called GST tax switch had no discernable positive impact on growth.  And the same rosy forecasts will be embedded in today’s Budget.  On this track record Budget 2011 growth  projections will not be worth the paper they are written on.

When the 2009 growth projections are added the picture gets even more interesting.  As this graph shows the actual GDP growth track has been so bad that it is back down to the proections made by Treasury during the darkest days of the 2008/9 global financial crisis.  

   2009-2010 GDP Track

In other words, despite the international crisis having passed 18 months ago and NZ receiving record prices for our agricultrual commodities, our economy has performed so badly that it is back down to the track Treasury predicted during the darkest days of the crisis.   Quite simply, whatever the Govt has been doing is not working. 

In a future post we will decompose the relative impact on debt of this under-performance and otehr factors like earthquakes.

There is no coherent plan from National on how to manage debt reduction alongside needed investments in economic and export development, closing the savings gap, repairing the damage to middle New Zealand, and giving all Kiwis hope and confidence for the future.

Labour has an integrated economic strategy that will achive that withi a fully costed programme that will reduce net debt over a 10 year economic cycle.  You can see the direction we are heading in set out in a recent speech I gave to Business NZ  here.

For the wonks among you, here is the underlying data – all the Government’s own numbers.

  GDP per capita, 95/96 dollars    
 

Actual

Half Year Update 2009

Budget 2010

Half Year Update 2010

30/12/2008

7,805

     

30/03/2009

7,700

     

30/06/2009

7,683

7,683

   

30/09/2009

7,677

7,694

   

30/12/2009

7,716

7,721

7,716

 

30/03/2010

7,741

7,741

7,758

 

30/06/2010

7,734

7,768

7,802

7,734

30/09/2010

7,701

7,795

7,909

7,747

30/12/2010

7,694

7,830

7,883

7,799

30/03/2011

 

7,873

7,928

7,859

30/06/2011

 

7,916

7,973

7,904

30/09/2011

 

7,967

8,026

7,948

30/12/2011

 

8,027

8,088

8,010

30/03/2012

 

8,055

8,118

8,039

30/06/2012

 

8,091

8,156

8,085

 Sources: Budget relevant documents and Statistics NZ series


Tackling inequality

Posted by on May 17th, 2011

OECD inequality

In recent decades, inequalities in New Zealand have grown faster than in most other OECD countries.  This trend was halted under the last Labour Government, but other governments have more than made up for it.

Rising inequality is bad for a country that prides itself on its egalitarianism. 

Large wealth disparities are bad for nearly everyone.  High levels of inequality in society have been linked to higher chances of poor health outcomes, poor education outcomes and anti-social behaviour. These things have both social and economic costs for a country.

Last month I posted for Red Alert on why inequality is bad.   But how does one go about tackling inequality?

Increasing GST, and taking the income to give the biggest tax-cuts to the wealthiest people is clearly not the answer.  National’s tax ‘switch’ has hurt those at the bottom, and squeezed those in the middle, who are now worse off than they were before. Inequalities are even worse now than the graph above suggests.

The OECD held a forum on tackling inequality at the start of this month. The background paper is instructive.

Aside from asking if who you marry matters, the report also asks what policy-makers can do about the problem of inequality.  Answers focus in the area of skills training and education, particularly where they are available for disadvantaged groups.  Looks like National’s cuts to education in the early childhood (ECE) and adult and community (ACE) area aren’t the right answer either.

Labour has promised to reverse the ECE and ACE cuts.  We’ve also said we’d make the first $5000 of earnings tax free.  And we’ll raise the minimum wage to $15. All of these things are useful first steps in tackling inequality.

In line with the OECD view, an economy that provides skills, jobs and opportunity for all New Zealanders has both social and economic benefits.

Hat-tip Jeremy Warner at The Telegraph

Dr David Clark is the Labour Candidate for Dunedin North. He has worked in shops, in a factory, as a Presbyterian Minister, as a University Tutor and as an analyst at the New Zealand Treasury. He currently runs a University Hall of Residence. 


A brighter future?

Posted by on May 15th, 2011

Dr David Clark is the Labour Candidate for Dunedin North. He has worked in shops, in a factory, as a Presbyterian Minister, as a University Tutor and as an analyst at the New Zealand Treasury. He currently runs a University Hall of Residence. 

Red Alert readers will have noted several recent stories about the very real way in which cost of living increases are affecting middle income families. I’ve encountered a fair few in Dunedin in recent weeks with similar stories. Here’s one that stuck out for me when I was out door-knocking yesterday…

Bill and Maree (not their real names) live in their own home, and have worked hard to pay off much of their mortgage. Daughter Lisa?has recently turned 17 and is living at home with Bill and Maree. Son Darren has just finished University. Bill and Maree have always held down solid jobs and bring in an average income. This has generally been enough. They were however impressed last election by John Key’s promise of tax cuts and ‘a brighter future’, and placed their vote with him.

But things have not turned out as hoped. Prices have risen and risen, and bills are getting harder to pay. The tax-cuts they were expecting haven’t lived up to expectations. And then Lisa fell pregnant. It wasn’t planned, but she’s determined to be a good mother.? Bill and Maree want to support her, but they’re fearful they won’t be able to provide all that is needed for the new addition to the household. Having worked hard consistently down through the years, they went down to WINZ with Lisa to see what support is available. Nothing: unless Lisa is estranged from the family. Not until she’s 18.

Bill and Maree are feeling hard done by. Having worked hard and paid taxes all of their lives, they were?expecting a little bit extra from Mr Key. Instead, they’re seeing seriously rich New Zealanders enjoy the big big tax cuts, while they don’t have quite enough to make ends meet. And then, to make matters worse, when they need a bit of help, they’re realising that’s not there either.

Bill and Maree are disillusioned. They’re changing their vote. But on top of their disappointment about Mr Key’s failure to deliver them a brighter future, they’ve another concern. It’s the future of their kids. Not only are they worried about their daughter: their son Darren?is wanting to settle down too.?

Darren’s just finished a degree and has been offered a very good job in Dunedin. But his partner’s pregnant, and they’re concerned about the cuts to Working For Families. With a student loan and the cuts to Working For Families, they too will struggle to make ends meet. Darren’s mates are telling him to move to Oz. One of them has already, and he’s earning nearly three times as much doing the same job.?

This story echoes others I’ve encountered in recent weeks.??

Many ‘swing’ voters feel disillusioned with the Government that they voted in last time.? Some say the jury is still out, and they want to give Key another chance. Others are sick of him.

 

 


Heartland #2

Posted by on May 14th, 2011

Three vignettes. Door-knocking today in South Dunedin. Heartland. Last election the party vote slipped, in line with the country-wide trend. Many people bought the “time for a change” line.

I’m now coming across a number of these people on their doorsteps and they’re re-thinking. Because the change hasn’t delivered.

Last week there was the young couple who moved here from Auckland with their two small kids. They thought they’d have a better lifestyle in Dunedin, could afford a house, the education opportunities were good. She’s always been a Labour voter. He hasn’t. Now he’s changing his mind because he can’t see how this government is stimulating the economy to help families. All he can see is cuts and rising costs and he’s not happy.

This week there was the young Dunedin couple who’ve just taken on their first mortgage. Two kids. He works for a big building firm. She works a few hours part time but wants to take on more. They are absolutely dependent on the 20 hours free early childhood education. She’s doing the sums and is worried she won’t be able to afford the childcare fees, but also can’t afford not to go back to work. It’s a double bind. Kiwisaver cuts were top of their mind because they got their first house using the Kiwisaver first home deposit subsidy. They’ve done everything they can, but prices jsut keep going up. They voted National last time. This time they doubt they will.

And finally the young woman, just turned 20, on her own with a 16 month old little girl. She hasn’t voted before, said she didn’t know much about politics. But I tell you what she did know about. Where every dollar was spent. She’s under pressure from WINZ to get a part time job but is resisting because she knows it’ll be a low wage job, she’ll have to pay childcare fees  and it will make her life harder. I asked her whether she’d like to do some study and she said yes, but how could she afford to? I can see an onging poverty trap, with little liklihood of escape.

Doesn’t bode well for the next generation.


Budget FAQs

Posted by on May 11th, 2011

Some quick answers to a couple of good questions about debt and Kiwisaver from recent Facebook inquiries:

Q:  Has NZ’s debt really cimbed from $300 m per week to $380 m per week?  Why?

A:  The difference between $300 m and $380 m is the fact that NZDMO is in the market issuing more debt securities than it needs beacuse demand is good and prices low. In other words it is bringing forward next years borrowing, and that is all.  Of the $300m about half is rollover of exisitng debt.  So next year it can say it reduced the borrowing, beacuse it will have pre-borrowed some of what it needs already.

Q:  How much will the cuts to Kiwisaver Key announceed today save?  $40m a year ?

A:   Kiwisaver cost savings are unknown untill policy is made clear in the Budget.  The Member Tax Credit costs about $880 m per year.  Half that would be ($440m pa) would be  ”saved” to Govt if MTC halved to $10 per week.  But that ‘saving’ but would have to be offset against lower private savings from weaker incentices.   That is a problem beacuse private debt is huge  – in fact 90% of NZ’s total international debt is private.   Govt debt is only 10% of the problem.

Q:  Is it true that Dr Cullen’s books in 2008 showed a fiscal surplus in 2008?

A:  Yes   Dr Cullen’s 2008 books showed a net debt (incl NZSF assets) to GDP ratio surplus of 7.6%   In other words we were in positive CREDIT, though the GFC meant a forecast net deficit up to around 2% of GDP.    Gross debt to GDP is ow 34%and climbing under National.  It is hard to believe that National still gripes and tries to shift blame.   Time they manned up and took some responisbility for their own choices – like $23 Billion of tax cuts over 4 years in Budgets 2009 and 2010.

Q:  Are our incomes catching up with Australia like National promised?

A: No, we are going backwards.  When National took office in 2008 the gap was about 30% of GDP per capita   It was 34.7% and growing last time I checked.

Bottom line – NZ’s problems are serious and need serious fixes, but don’t buy the panic line that it is only public debt that matters.   Responsible fiscal management, including reducing debt across the cycle, is essential- but it is not the ONLY thing that matters.  We have to grow jobs, exports and savings at the same time as reducing debt.  And we have to build a country that is fair, caring and ready to take on the world, not slide into two NZs – one for the haves and another for the have nots.

PS happy to take your budget questions – message me on http://www.facebook.com/david.cunliffe.labour.


The Double Whammy: Cost of Living and Asset Sales

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

Campbell Live has been doing a series of programmes on the cost of living this year, and they are focusing on it even more as the Budget looms. Tonight’s episode was a doozy, with an additional piece on asset sales, focusing on the workers on the Clyde Dam.

On cost of living, the story of the Alexander family will be familiar to many families. Single income, with a baby, really struggling to make ends meet. Just groceries alone have gone up by 20% over the last eight months. Let alone petrol and other costs. As they note in the story, it will be even harder for others with more children or lower incomes. The story also notes John Key saying “no one will be worse off” after the GST increase. Well, the Alexanders would beg to differ.

On the assets sales the anger of the former Clyde Dam workers says it all. One of them called National’s plan to sell off assets ” a betrayal.” They know, because the Clyde Dam is in the control of Australian company Origin. Supposedly an opportunity for those Mum and Dad investors National like to talk about, the truth is the profits from the end result of these workers toil heads offshore.

Whole programme is worth a watch, as will the run-up to the Budget as various people try to make do on the pension and the average wage.


A Brash reminder on minimum wage and benefits

Posted by on May 7th, 2011

Brash on Health 2


John Key speeds away from Struggle Street in new BMW

Posted by on May 4th, 2011

Recently a Timaru Woman, Melissa Voice, challenged John Key to spend a few days in her shoes to find out how much of a financial struggle life can be.

Melissa is a single mum with two children. She works, she is debt free and lives within her means. She is doing all the right things but is still finding life a financial struggle. Like many Kiwis she is going backwards.

Her request to meet with John Key isn’t unreasonable – he has been PM for 2 ½ years now, during which time the cost of living has far outpaced incomes. This despite promising that everyone would be better off with him at the helm.

Melissa Voice should be applauded for speaking out and I will be more than happy to meet with her when I am next in Timaru.

For John Key, meeting everyday New Zealanders like Melissa Voice and hearing their stories should be a golden opportunity to show he is in touch with their concerns.

Clearly though, these kinds of meetings don’t meet his test of what is a good media “photo op”.

Mr Key has also recently declined invitations to spend time at food banks to see first-hand how tough life is for growing numbers of Kiwis.

Food banks around the country have reported a massive increase in demand for food banks and some like the one here in Wellington have run out of food, for the first time since the 1990s.

John Key and his government have brought in policies that have made most middle and low income people worse off, including raising gst at a time of rising prices, giving the lion’s share of tax cuts to the well off, increasing the cost of ECE and increasing ACC charges and doctors’ fees.   

The least he can do is face them when asked why.