Red Alert

Archive for the ‘Economic Development’ Category

Invermay – a national issue

Posted by on March 10th, 2014

Despite being signed off by Steven Joyce nearly a year ago, the full business case for AgResearch’s restructure has been suppressed until now. It reveals that the whole organisation is put at risk for uncertain returns. $100m taxpayer money is to be spent; and in one scenario modelled - a worse outcome is produced than business as usual.   I guess it is now obvious why they tried to hide the detail for so long.

The Background

In July last year, the Government’s largest Crown Research Institute - AgResearch – announced its plans for a major restructure. A lot is at stake since AgResearch is the taxpayer-fuelled science engine that underpins productivity-growth on New Zealand farms.

Starting in the South, discontent is spreading across New Zealand with news of the decision to break up a successful hub centred on its World-leading Invermay campus. On Saturday, New Zealand’s largest independent newspaper broke the news that background to one of the country’s most significant export-related restructures has finally been released.

Previously, AgResearch’s own internal review singled Invermay campus changes out – as the piece of the AgResearch restructure puzzle that didn’t fit.  Change is hard, but the internal review team concluded that most of what was proposed across New Zealand would meet the organisation’s internal goals.  However – Invermay should be grown, not shrunk, it said.

Where to from here?

Sheep and deer farmers in particular will be angry. It is unacceptable that this business case was kept from them until now. They are the clients. AgResearch has been treating industry stakeholders like mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them manure.

AgResearch last year released a shorter redacted version of the business case, in a failed attempt to give the impression of transparency.  What we now know is that the public were being fed only half of the story: the part AgResearch thought fit for farmer consumption.

The drastic changes proposed also create serious problems for families of scientists at Invermay’s Mosgiel campus.  Many have partners who will struggle to find good work in Lincoln and will face significantly higher mortgages. They simply won’t move there.

The worst-case scenario in the business case modelling now looks wildly optimistic.  It assumes scientific staff will relocate – when available evidence says they will not. An earlier restructure saw just 28% of scientists retained; those close to this one say it is shaping up no better.

Instead, the majority of world-class scientists who’ve built Invermay’s international reputation are proposing to leave the organisation to pursue opportunities abroad. Another group are proposing to take early retirement.  While Steven Joyce has been typically short and sarcastic in his responses to my parliamentary questioning on Invermay, he has shown some awareness of the importance of staff retention to organisational capability. As shareholding Minister, he’s left himself some wiggle-room for intervention.

Breeders know the importance of Invermay to their commercial success.  In particular sheep meat productivity has doubled and disease incidence in deer has been slashed. AbacusBio and other important industry participants have contributed to extraordinary success in the Ag sector off the back of facilities and research at Invermay.

The Government set itself the admirable goal of doubling agricultural productivity. Invermay has played a huge role in historic successes and promises to play an important part in the future. Invermay must be saved for the best future for New Zealand’s on-farm productivity.

Signatures are being collected across the country.  Sheep breeders in Northland, Manawatu and Southland abhor the changes equally. If you’re lucky enough to live in Otago there are dozens of places to sign the petition I’ve launched opposing the changes. Visit www.saveinvermay.co.nz to find out more or to download your own copy of the petition form.

The board of AgResearch is showing itself out of touch with the industry it serves. Shareholding Minister Steven Joyce must call the Board to account. The Invermay changes make no sense.


Labour Leadership Virtual Hustings Meeting Questions – Full List Of Questions

Posted by on September 14th, 2013

Labour Leadership Virtual Hustings Meeting Questions – Full List

submitted by members – Sept 3rd to Sept 10th 2013

published 14 Sept, 2013

The questions below were submitted by New Zealand Labour Party members for the “Virtual Hustings Meeting” held by the party from September 10th to 14th 2013 and organised by Scoop Amplifier.

14 of these questions were selected and provided to candidates to answer with a 200 word limit. The Questions and Answers were then posted on the Scoop.co.nz and Red Alert ( blog.labour.org.nz ) websites. As this is published a discussion is taking place on the Red Alert site about the answers.

The questions and answers can be viewed at the links below:

1. Environment : What are your views on a clean green NZ?
2. Poverty : How would you ensure no one needs to live in poverty?
3. TPPA : Will you make the TPPA process transparent?
4. Equal pay : What would you do about gender pay discrimination?
5. Peoples : How would bring Maori & Pakeha into a multi-ethnic future?
6. Justice : What is your view of the New Zealand justice system?
7. Disability Issues : Would you create a Ministry for Disability?
8. Voter turnout : How do we motivate more people to vote?
9. Economy : How can we convince voters Labour’s economic policy will work?
10. Older New Zealanders : How would you advocate for older New Zealanders?
11. Party Leadership : What Labour values drive your work for New Zealand?
12. Party Unity : How would you unite the party as a whole?
13. Experience : What have you learned from failure & how would you apply it?
14. Winning : Why are you the one to take on and beat John Key?

CONTENTS

(click these links to jump to questions about each subject below)
Arts sector
Australia and international relations
Commerce
Constitution
Defence
Economy
Education
Employment
Environment
Green and sustainability
Health
Immigration
Income and Tax
Justice
Legislation
Older NZers
Labour Party
Regional issues
Winning edge

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Arts sector

What value do you place on the Arts and Creative Industries as contributors to our cultural health and wellbeing, our ability to achieve distinction, and our economic wellbeing?
John Smyth

Is it important to cultivate and sustain ‘the New Zealand voice’ and ‘the New Zealand story’ or is ‘cultural product’ just another item of trade, like a plastic spoon?
John Smyth

What are your thoughts on the Arts’ budget…….drama, orchestral, dance, etc and for the training, encouragement and support required?
(Margaret) Heather Grimwood

Will you look to create more opportunity for overseas movie houses to come to NZ to shoot films?
Christine Small

Lyndon Johnson said “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.” Under the current government the arts have been abandoned and the people are perishing. What will you do to ensure the performing and visual arts will be actively supported in New Zealand to aid communication, express visions beyond words, and provide a medium for cultural enlightenment that enables the spirit of the people to flourish?
Helen Gaeta

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Australia and international relations

Would you personally engage with the Australian Prime Minister/Government in seeking to redress their current policies with regards to entitlements for ex-pat Kiwis?
Janet Phillips

Would you consider becoming less tied strategically to the U.S?
Jackie Steincamp

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Commerce

How will you stop private equity firms buying and owning media companies, especially in the Mediaworks and Channel 9 Australia’s situations?
Gary Wills

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Constitution

Would you consider policy that would lead to the appointment of our own Head of State, as in this day and age it seems ridiculous our sharing a Head of State, also a foreigner, with another nation. This would also presumably lead to our becoming a republic.
Murray Eggers

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Defence

I would like each candidate to outline under what circumstances would they send NZ troops into a war zone or peace making deployment, if they were the prime minister?
Julie Beriman

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Economy

Do you support a return to surplus as the priority for fiscal policy, and do you have a time-frame target for achieving this?
James Bews-Hair

Labour spends a lot of time in a deep hole called monetary policy. Last time it was moving from Opposition to Government it emerged from the hole with only a small and ultimately inconsequential change to policy settings. Is there anything decisive that can be done about monetary policy? If not shouldn’t more focus be on more direct efforts to change the structure of the economy?
Patrick Hine

Given the failure of ‘third way’ politics, what does a post-neoliberal New Zealand economy look like to you?
Damien Rogers

What are three major strands for an economic development strategy for New Zealand which the current Government has failed to consider?
Dolores Janiewski

The old (present) economic ideas seem to have failed for many. However the voting public will be sceptical about change (remember Labour and Rogernomics?) Also John Key will come out and say that any new Idea of Labour’s is unworkable. Labour will have to provide concrete proof that any change will work for the marginalised and poor. How can we get the voting public to believe that the present economic thinking has failed? and that Labour’s ideas will work for them?
Angie Croft

Would you consider reducing the high New Zealand dollar to improve international competitiveness?
Jackie Steincamp

Given the general failure of Simon Upton’s competitive CRI model to serve this country well, do you see a need to revert to something closer to the original cooperative DSIR model for the Labour Party?
Alan Mark

Until such time as free trade agreements are allowed to become ‘restricted trade agreements’ so that local production has a chance to flourish locally and then internationally, unemployment levels of 160,000 people will never disappear. My question to each of you is: Are you prepared to take this fight on to the IMF and the WTO and tell them these facts and that their neo-liberal template is causing huge, permanent unemployment in New Zealand and around the world and that we want to be able to decide our own economic, social and political destiny?
Adam Browne

Will you make the TPPA process transparent ?
Christine Small

What are your views on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement?
Vicki Bunch

Please outline your personal stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. In particular: 1. If negotiations are not concluded before a change in government, would you as leader support your Trade Minister to continue negotiations? 2. If negotiations are concluded prior to a change in government, do you envision taking steps to extricate NZ from this agreement?
Natalie Arnold

What is your view on the TPPA?
Cushla Dillon

If you are elected do you intend to lead NZ into the TPPA agreement?
Cushla Dillon

With Kiwi build is there any provision for low income housing with a provision for income related rents?
Gerard Hill

What is your position on an immediate return to making contributions to the NZ Super fund?
James Bews-Hair

Would you consider implementing an Investment Reserve Fund in an effort to help protect the New Zealand economy against future recession? and if not, why not? (such as found in Sweden or Norway – Relevant article: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/projects/bpea/1982%201/1982a_bpea_taylor_baily_fischer.pdf Also detailed by Peter Katzenstein’s Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe )”
Matthew Luke Weaver

Do you think it’s now time to seriously consider a robin hood tax on foreign transactions?
Christine Small

Will you be removing GST from basic food items?
Trevor Scott

If you are elected do you intend to lead NZ into the TPPA agreement?
Cushla Dillon

If you are elected how important will it be to you to discuss openly with NZers the impact the TPPA will have on many aspects of our lives, including trade, our environment, copyright laws and medicine prices.
Cushla Dillon

Do you see an end to the business as usual model and if so when?
Frank Cook

The labour party has said it is in favour of a capital gains tax. Would the gain be counted from when the good was purchased or from when the tax law was changed?
John Raven

What changes would you make to the laws governing home insurance to force insurance companies to pay out within a reasonable period of time?
John Raven

What action will you take to help people trying to get a fair deal from their insurance companies and/or EQC for earthquake damage?
John Raven

Will you make a change in the law that allows people with bare land to insure it?
John Raven

I have a question on housing policy – a possible contradiction as I see it. Labor has accused National of “tinkering arround the edges” of the housing affordability crisis. By this statement Labor have suggested that their initiatives are substantial and will make homes in Auckland/Christchurch and NZ more affordable (at a regions given wage structure). If we believe this, then does this mean that a New Zealand that you lead will encourage and plan for debt deflation? What consequences do you intend housing policy to have for the wider NZ economy.
Jeremy Adrian

I note come of the rhetoric in the media indicates a move to the left. That is fine but how far, Labour is a Centre Left Party, Helen Clark was no right winger but pragmatic. I am concerned that too far left will give Key the Centre and power. Undoing the changes to the latest Bill on Employment Relations is good but what else do the candidates suggest?
Peter Jamieson

Since the 1980′s NZ has been running trade deficits and borrowing abroad to fund our lifestyle. Most of our trading partners use trade restrictions against our exports and yet we generally allow them to have greater access to our market and so we get deeper and deeper in debt. Many of them also use currency manipulation which disadvantages our exporters. How will you level the playing field for our manufacturers and farmers who export and also those who face unfair competition in our domestic market from abroad? Why are we such weak traders, are trade deficits the only way we can reduce inflation?
Dave Wollman

Should the next Labour Goverment institurte a “NZ first” preference in all contracts for goods and services?
Jonathon Everist

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Education

Can you commit to bring back the very valuable Adult Community Education night classes which were killed by the Nats?
Clement Pinto

I believe ECE is the most necessary area of education funding. Will you ensure as a priority that all ECE staff are trained teachers?
(Margaret) Heather Grimwood

Do you think Te Reo Maori should be compulsory in all schools; if so, how will you implement it?
Anaru Ryall

The National Government has made it harder for kiwis to access tertiary education. (Capping numbers/restrictions to student loans/allowances etc). What would you do to improve kiwis’ abilities to further up skill and educate themselves?
Janet Phillips

What strategies would you wish to put in place to ensure no one needed to live in poverty?
Ken Hutchison

How will you reduce inequality in New Zealand?
Perce Harpham

Outline how you would like to see the reduction of inequality progressed in New Zealand, such as higher taxation for those on top incomes, through cost of living increases etc?
Jackie Steincamp

New Zealand has been “internationally regarded as a flagship in creating the necessary infrastructure of early childhood policy around issues of quality, qualifications, access and curriculum. … the undermining of these policies is dispiriting, and even embarrassing, as there is continuing worldwide interest”. (Carr, May & Smith, 2010) What do the leadership candidates plan to do to reverse the watering down of ECE quality? In particular would the candidates favour re-instituting funding for centres with 100% qualified staff?
Anne Smith

Is it possible to have universal free education?
Jonathon Everist

Should more “‘integrated’ schools’ be permitted?
Jonathon Everist

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Employment

What can we do to make sure that there is gainful employment available to suit the abilities and temperament of the least able and that it pays well enough to ensure that individual a reasonable standard of living and ability to participate fully in our society?
Gregg Sheehan

What concrete practical moves would you introduce to increase employment everywhere?
Jackie Steincamp

What support will you give to business owners/managers in daily operation of their business? Instead of watching workers, treating workers as “thick” and “simple”, utilization of workers e.g casual moves to part time, part time moves to full time position.
Gary Wills

What Concrete, practical moves would you promote to engage disaffected youth – and get them into paid employment?
Jackie Steincamp

Would you ensure that carers (Resthomes etc) receive the increases that the recent court hearing has decreed they should receive?
Jackie Steincamp

Gender pay discrimination in NZ is a reality. The recent ruling in the Kristine Bartlett/SFWU case gives some hope. How would your leadership promote progress on achieving equal pay for work of equal value?
Lesley Soper

Would you institute the increased Minimum Living wage across the board (not just Government organisations)?
Jackie Steincamp

Would you consider legislating a pay ratio such as 1:20 for minimum wage versus Maximum possible wage in all public or private organisations in the country in order to ensure better social fairness and social justice to help bridge the ever widening gap between the wealthy and the relatively poor?
Clement Pinto

Presently Support Staff in schools can and are being paid as little as $15.03 per hour to support the learning of quite often our most vulnerable children. What do you see as the labour party’s role in achieving a well resourced workforce in our schools, namely Support Staff?
Linda Jordan

What can we do to make sure that there is gainful employment available to suit the abilities and temperament of the least able and that it pays well enough to ensure that individual a reasonable standard of living and ability to participate fully in our society?
Gregg Sheehan

What concrete practical moves would you introduce to increase employment everywhere?
Jackie Steincamp

What support will you give to business owners/managers in daily operation of their business? Instead of watching workers, treating workers as “thick” and “simple”, utilization of workers e.g casual moves to part time, part time moves to full time position.
Gary Wills

What Concrete, practical moves would you promote to engage disaffected youth – and get them into paid employment?
Jackie Steincamp

Under the National Government there has been a disconnect between the government, in its communications and policy, and the teaching profession (including teachers, principals, boards of trustees and education experts). What would you like to see done to improve this relationship?
Bridget Dymock-Johnson

I agree that all workers deserve a living wage, but, as a provincial Chartered Accountant, I see real difficulty in many small employers, for example in the retail sector, being able to afford $18.40 an hour. They have little opportunity to increase margins when already facing stiff competition from major retailers and online outlets. How do respond to this conundrum?
Bruce Ellis

What specific economic policies will you put in place to help job and wage growth?
John Raven

Do you acknowledge there is an unemployment/ under employment problem in New Zealand especially for those under 25 and over 50?
John Raven

What specific policies will you put in place to help the young and over 50s find work?
John Raven

Would you put in place a mechanism whereby someone can do an apprenticeship at any age?
John Raven

Would you alter the exceptional circumstances threshold for notifying a personal grievance outside the 90 day period?
Steven Zindel

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Environment

Given that the Puhipuhi plateau to the north of Whangarei is a vast storehouse of mostly locked up mercury , how do the candidates feel about the prospect of this area being sifted for minute quantities of gold and silver, thereby unlocking the mercury and allowing the possibility of environmental degradation from Puhipuhi to the Kaipara Harbour?
Jeff Saunders

What are your views on a clean green NZ?
Heather Mannix

What are your views on our one pure gold asset “water” and protecting our waterways?
Heather Mannix

Given that the Puhipuhi plateau to the north of Whangarei is a vast storehouse of mostly locked up mercury , how do the candidates feel about the prospect of this area being sifted for minute quantities of gold and silver, thereby unlocking the mercury and allowing the possibility of environmental degradation from Puhipuhi to the Kaipara Harbour?
Jeff Saunders

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported in June 2013 that the planet is on a trajectory for a temperature rise around 4oC, well above the 2oC limit of the Copenhagen agreement. They have proposed a 4-for-2 policy to try to bring us back on course and talk of the need for political resolution. What measures, locally and globally, will you pursue to make the Copenhagen target technically feasible?
Frank Cook

Do you believe that global warming is a real and severe threat to our planet.. which includes New Zealand. If so (1) – do you support mining on the Denniston Plateau [which actually was categorically put aside when the Stockton Plateau was given the go-ahead? (2) do you support exploration/mining for oil in our EEZ seas? (3) - would you cancel the MacKay's to Peka Peka Expressway and replace it with the consented Western Link Road? (4) - can you work co-operatively with the Green Party to encourage a sustainable, greener economic policy?
Rochelle Wilson

What aspect of the RMA reforms passed by National would Labour repeal if returned to power?
John Raven

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Green and sustainability

Do you agree that NZ should diversify its primary industry base by developing its significant renewable resources (hydro, wind, solar and marine energy) both to supply the local energy market and to add value to primary products by local processing of energy intensive exports (wood, agriculture, fisheries, iron sands, freezing capability, Australian bauxite, nitrogen fertiliser, cement, glass, ceramics and hydrogen)?
John Irving

Given the economic environment and the benefits of having investment brought to New Zealand via our natural resources, Coal, Gold, and Silver etc. At present environment groups with the best of intentions are costing tax payers and companies money while safe in the knowledge that they will not have costs awarded against them. How do we maintain employment and income while looking after our other natural resources like our Rivers and Wildlife without having a long drawn out court battle like the one currently on-going over the Dennison Plateau between Bathurst and Forest and Bird? We need the employment and we need to keep New Zealand green, how do we do both?
John Adams

How do you intend as Leader to manage the conflicting priorities of economic development and environmental protection?
Lesley Soper

As the NZ Labour Party Leader will you be supporting solar energy within all new homes?
Heather Mannix

As the NZ Labour Party Leader will you be supporting solar energy within all new homes?
Heather Mannix

For Shane Jones: How does he reconcile his support for augmenting West Coast coal mining with the imperatives of reducing global warming by shunning fossil fuel trading and consumption?
Peter and Margaret Bartlett

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Health

What is your view on health? should dental care be subsidised? should primary health be fully funded? should residential facilities for the aged be adequately funded? Should there be one comprehensive hospital in Auckland or should each geographical area have a tertiary hospital?
Julie Berriman

We have a diabetes epidemic. This being caused by the lifestyle factor of being overfat. Overfat is created by eating too much energy to energy use. Not only does this affect people's physical health it impacts on social, mental, psychological and spiritual well being. What will you do, as leader, to tackle this excessively expensive and preventable lifestyle dis-ease which is now starting in early childhood and extending to old age?
Vivienne Shepherd

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to addressing the discrimination against certain impairment groups (such as adults with Aspergers) which means they are unable to access support through the current MoH’s NASC system?
Hilary Stace

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to demedicalising disability support services by creating a new Ministry for Disability Issues with a high-ranked minister in cabinet and a chief executive committed to the social model of disability and, preferably, lived experience of disability?
Hilary Stace

What will you do about the national disgrace of children living in poverty in New Zealand? And how soon will you do it?
Mary K Dearsley

WINZ staff need to improve their attitude to the beneficiaries are any of you willing to bring more positive model from the negative model done by current government?
David Maclure

Is it possible to have a universal dental health subsidy as we have for doctors?
Jonathon Everist

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Immigration

There is no point training more apprentices if we are only going to export them to Australia. Will your Government manage the rate of immigration to ensure that labour supply does not exceed demand as has been the practice introduced as a feature of Roger Douglas' neo liberal macro economic policy to ensure that wages in New Zealand were driven to rates less than in Australia?
Lou Yukich

Would you tighten up the immigration laws to push employers to train people already in New Zealand rather than just importing experienced people from abroad?
John Raven

If, like the Australians, you are faced with boatloads of refugees arriving, what will be your policy?
Alastair McKerchar

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Income and Tax

Would a government led by you consider phasing in overtime Income splitting for couples?
Peter Hutchinson

Would a government led by you consider phasing in overtime raising tax free income threshold to the minimum amount required to live? ..eg if an individual needs 15k P.A to meet the basic needs to survive. ..start taxing every dollar after that amount, not before
Peter Hutchinson

Would a government led by you consider phasing in overtime introduction of a "Guaranteed Minimum Income" or GMI of the like proposed by Gareth Morgan?
Peter Hutchinson

As a 53 yr old ex labourer, tradesman, factory supervisor and business owner. I feel bringing in a living wage will just cause higher inflation to the basics of living, and once again the people that need assistance the most will be on the losing end. John Key gave away 4 billion in tax cuts, what will you do to reverse those to truly put money back into the pockets of the workers of this country?
Peter Hutchinson

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Justice

Would each candidate outline their views on the justice system in NZ, do they endorse restorative justice or prefer the fill the prisons option?
John Berriman

What would you do about: a) lawyers not being allowed to act for many people involved in parenting disputes; b) most criminal defendants not being able to choose their lawyer on legal aid; and c) paying lawyers the same legal aid fixed fee per case, irrespective of the work done?
Steven Zindel

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Legislation

Why not make public drunkenness and disorder a crime – rather than fixating on closure hours of bars?
Jackie Steincamp

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to repealing the NZ Public Health and Disability Amendment Act (No 2) 2013?
Hilary Stace

Are you as a potential leader prepared to support Maryan Street's End of Life Choice Bill, and if you become leader of the Labour caucus and should you become leader of the govt, would you be prepared to support the EOLC Bill as a Govt Bill with a conscience vote?
Jack Havill

Labour did away with Knighthoods/ damehoods when last in power, but they were reinstated by National. Would you support their abolishment, as such awards are incompatible with Labour/Socialist principles.
Murray Eggers

Will you investigate the Governments selling Government owned real-estate to itself without going through public auction?
Christine Small

Will you look into revoking any Social welfare reforms initiated by this Government?
Christine Small

What is the candidates’ view of the recommendations from the Electoral Committee to ditch he ‘coat-tails’ clause for leaders of small parties and to lower the threshold to 4 percent? What action would they take as Prime Minister?
Jenny Pattrick

Considering the extremely high incidence of child abuse in NZ (seventh highest in OECD Countries!) what do you each consider about legislation fully covering Mandatory Reporting in Child Abuse in NZ and as modelled on all Australian States (except, I believe, Western Australia) who have each submitted positive reports to us thoroughly endorsing that legislation (refer to myself for copies or to Jacinda Adhern).??
Robert W Walker

Will your Government amend the Holidays Act S14 provision to return it to the provisions it had prior to the National Party amending it to the disadvantage of workers?
Lou Yukich

Will your Government reinstate the provisions of the Holidays Act that allowed all employees the right to determine when they took alternative days (lieu days)?
Lou Yukich

New Zealand has, along with Australia, the highest rate of teenage cannabis use in the world. We also have the world's highest arrest rate for cannabis offences. Why are we criminalising our young people in this way and what should we do to stop this insanity?
Phil Saxby

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Older NZers

Senior people (those 50+) represent 53% of NZ voters, currently. As an active Labour supporter for some 40 odd years, I have been seeking from the Labour party the policy which will bring this group to strongly support Labour in 2014. Are any of the leadership candidates able to state what he is prepared to advocate for us, Seniors?
Dean Chandler-Mills

Will your Government increase the qualifying age for National Superannuation?
Lou Yukich

Would you support Maryan Street's Member's bill [if " pulled from the hat"] re End-of Life choice for NZ citizens?
Rochelle Wilson

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Labour Party

Who would be your finance minister if you were PM?
Bob Davies

I know it is always possible that the other candidates would not be in the cabinet, but for the sake of argument let’s say they are. What portfolios would you allocate to your fellow candidates if you became the leader (prime minister)?.
Bruce Rogan

What would your Labour Party caucus members say about your leadership style, your leadership strengths, and your leadership weaknesses? What would their perspectives tell me about how you will be leading the Labour Party in the next 18 months?
Dalene Mactier

To ensure a victory in the 2014 election we need courageous leadership. Failure is part of courageous leadership. Tell us about a time that you failed as a leader. What did you learn from that experience and how would you apply your learning in the future?
Dalene Mactier

At times it seems as if politics and integrity is an oxymoron. Tell us about a time where the Labour party caucus direction was in conflict with your personal integrity. How did you manage it and how would you apply your learning in the future?
Dalene Mactier

Did you Vote for David Shearer for Leader at the Previous Caucus vote? if so what did you see in the Candidate that would have suggested he could have won the next Election for Labour, or did you simply see him as a Temporary Leader prepared to loose the next Election until someone better came along?
Geoff Silbery

Why did you join the Labour Party over other parties and what are the key Labour values and principles that drive your work for Labour and New Zealand?
Annalise Roache

What books are you currently reading? What have you read in the last 6 months that has influenced or guided your thinking?
Bryce Bartley

Tell us about a time when you led a group of people to achieve a positive outcome. What did you do and what was the result?
Bryce Bartley

When Labour is mentioned people often refer to the party as the PC patrol or returning to the nanny state, including John Key’s current rhetoric that any of your Leadership would take the party further to the left. What are your key messages to the public in response to charges of PC’ism?
Annalise Roache

Since the last term of the Clark government the Labour party seems to have lost its way and connection with everyday New Zealanders. What do you think lead to this, what can you learn from it and how will you remedy for the future?
Annalise Roache

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to actively encouraging disabled people onto winnable places in the party list?
Hilary Stace

I am a woman and have three grown daughters and now three granddaughters. Each and every one of us has been able with the right personal attributes, determination and education to achieve without any bias towards us on the basis of gender. Why is there such emphasis on the 50-50 split of male/female MPs for Labour?
Marilyn Geddes

The best government for New Zealand, I believe, is a Labour-Green coalition that tackles global warming and energy supply. What are Labour’s plans for forging an alliance with Greens?
Jocelyn Harris

If it came down to a coalition between NZ First or the Greens, which would you be inclined to go with?
Joss Debraceny

I am in my early 40’s, live in Auckland Central and my friends and I would be described as left/centrist. Less than a handful of people I know vote two ticks for Labour, these days the average urban person simply isn’t aligned to one party, unless it’s National. What do you think of this and as Leader how will you work more authentically and collaboratively with the Greens to be more representative of today’s voters?
Annalise Roache

if you were elected would you agree to formally sign an affirmation of the parties new Policy framework and if in Govt were going to take a decision which was contrary to that party policy be prepared to bring it back to the party for confirmation/ratification?
Edwin Daniel

Critics have said that Labour is divided. How will you unite the party behind you?
Bridget Dymock-Johnson

As the candidate for the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party what qualities/initiatives can you bring to the party and within caucus and the rest of the membership within the country to unite the party as a whole?
Heather Mannix

Would the 2 losing candidates give there FULL support to the winning candidate, and get behind the new leader and party to win the next election?
Whakiao Hopmans

Will the 2 losing candidates tell those caucus members that supported them, that they should now unite, and have no divisions?
Whakiao Hopmans

Given your commitment to unifying the party, will you consider dismantling those branches of the NZLP which enshrine differences based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, so that we can become a party of equality and opportunity for all of New Zealand’s workforce, rather than a broad church hijacked by the special interest agenda?
Damien Rogers

Michael Joseph Savage left an enduring legacy on our Party and on New Zealand. In terms of principles, beliefs and views – how do you relate yourself to our first Labour Prime Minister?
Mark Byford

Undercurrents in the Labour party are compromising a Labour victory in 2014. What was your role in the past in the undercurrents and how will you build unity and synergy in the future?
Dalene Mactier

Our strength is often our weakness too. What do you see as a key strength that you will bring to the Labour leadership that could potentially become your weakness in the future? How will you manage it?
Dalene Mactier

As the Labour leader and prime minister, you will be required to steer the party and the government with a firm hand. How will you ensure that you maintain control, while allowing autonomy and encouraging innovation in younger MPs to ensure we continue to grow strong leaders in the Labour Party?
Dalene Mactier

All of you have identified the importance of Party Unity. What do you see as areas of disunity? How would you promote unity?
Bryce Bartley

I am a gay man in a relationship for the last 35 years. Acceptance has changed but I still find an occasional unexpected pocket of bigotry and abuse. Will NZ accept a gay prime minister?
Chris Brown
Leaders are good because they lead. Telephone canvassers, door knockers and letter box teams do the work on the ground. What difference will your leadership make to building the foot army required to win the 2014 election? Please base your answer on what you have already achieved in your local area.
Steve Farrow

If you were elected leader, would you be happy to work with either of the other two candidates as your deputy?
Lucy Marsden

We are not just electing a Labour leader. Equally importantly, we are electing the person we want to lead a Centre-Left government in 2014. Why do each of the candidates think they are the best suited to lead a campaign that will unite Labour, the Greens and NZ First into a confident, winning team? And how would they go about this vital task?
Phil Saxby

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Regional issues

What steps will you take as leader to support the people of Christchurch in the Eastern Suburbs who are still suffering due to EQC and the lack of transparency and information to support constituents moving forward with their lives?
Heather Mannix

As leader of the party what involvement/input will you have in choosing the by-election candidate for Christchurch East and will you listen to the local membership?
Heather Mannix

Bearing in mind the National Govt’s short-term ‘solutions’ [e.g. $30 million for the Tiwai situation, which only buys a 3-5 year breathing space for the 3200 local jobs at stake], what is your stance on economic development strategies for regions such as Invercargill/Southland? What would you do as Labour Leader to support regional development and jobs?
Lesley Soper

During early protests against the Kapiti Expressway Labour indicated it would stop work on this project and reinstate the two-lane internal western link road if the former had not progressed too far. It now seems unlikely that by the time of the election work on the Expressway will have progressed to the extent that any work could not be incorporated in a Western Link scheme. Would you support work stopping on the Expressway in favour of the hijacked Western Link Road?
Murray Eggers

Will your Government build a railway line from Kaitaia to the port of Whangarei?
Lou Yukich

Will your Government build a new production facility at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery to process New Zealand oil that is currently all exported for want of a processing facility capable of handling New Zealand oil?
Lou Yukich

As a supporter of all Kapiti residents who are “motorway refugees” orwill be stranded within 200 metres of the monster road, I would ask what you would do about the proposed road through Kapiti.
Graham Bathgate

Why should a Labour-led government not develope the collection and exportation, to a desperately thirsty world, of the hugely abundant and squandered volumes of fresh water that the main divide delivers through the West Coast into the Tasman Sea? (water mining!)
Peter and Margaret Bartlett

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Winning edge

What methods will you engage in to bring about a large drop in the number of electors who do not bother to vote?
Graham Adams

“How can you as an individual help to get the voters – especially the young, who were disengaged in the last election to get out and vote this time?
Steve Cole

To win the next election we need to motivate people to vote and win some of the swing voters in the middle. Share one strategy that you think would be most effective in achieving this?
Dalene Mactier

What guarantee do we have that the leftward shift in rhetoric and policy doesn’t evaporate once Labour becomes the government and the status quo of more right orthodox policies set in?
Geoff Cartwright

It would be good to see Labour lift its game as a strong and passionate oppositional voice. How will you show strength and leadership in this area?
Bridget Dymock-Johnson

Leadership is about many things but the qualities that I have found missing in politicians since the late 70’s are the ability to share a vision for the future of NZ and the ability to inspire. Australians know they are building a nation; why can’t we?
Chris Rapson

I have voted Labour since 1978, and ever since then I have heard all the rhetoric, from all parties about the trickle down theory and stopping the gap between the haves and have nots. Well its not working because to me all politicians are either too scared, or don’t know how to address the situation. Instead we waste huge amounts of money and time on populist vote catching, eg alcohol ,driving laws, or crime. Are any of the candidates prepared to do something radical if voted, and not be another centre left puppet?
Peter Power

Looking back over the last 18 months, what was Labour’s biggest mistake? How will you do this differently in the next 18 months to ensure we have a Labour 2014 victory?
Dalene Mactier

Looking back over the last 18 months, what was your biggest mistake? How will you do this differently in the next 18 months to ensure we have a Labour 2014 victory?
Dalene Mactier

John Key seems to be made of Teflon, people love his down to earth way and the fact he is a self-made millionaire, what do you think is needed to take the shine off his unwavering popularity and why do you think you can be ‘the one’ to take him on and win the next election?
Annalise Roache

Do you believe that there are sufficient votes on the Left of the NZ political spectrum to get Labour into government in 2014, or do we need to frame policies which attract voters from the Centre, and quickly repudiate policies which will lose votes from the Centre?
Gordon Gandy

Wherever you come from, List or Electorate, how will your voting base translate into New Zealand wide voter-appeal?
Steve Farrow

The reality is that to send John Key to the Opposition benches will require a Labour/Green coalition. How do the candidates envisage working with the Greens to produce a public face on policy and co-operation that will maximise the Centre Left vote to reenergise those who didn’t vote in 2011 and to claw back the swinging votes from National.
Bruce Ellis

What do you think is the major reason for Labour’s poor performance in the polls (and last election) and what, under your leadership, will you do differently?
Fraser Newman

All three of the MPs have great ideas, but how are those ideas to be implemented and for those MPs that have the same ideas, why can you do it better than the other MPs (e.g. unifying the party)?
Emma Burke

If when you are in Government you believe that you are going to make a decision which goes against Party policy how will you deal with it?
Edwin Daniel

What do you plan to do to win back traditional labour voters who have become disillusioned with the party/ it’s leadership and have started voting Green?
Phillipa Mallinson

How will you make yourself and the party relevant to undecided/swing voters?
Phillipa Mallinson

While you say that Labour no longer (at last!) subscribes to the neo liberal “free” market economic perspective, Aotearoa is tied into this mode of global economics in several ways, not the least of which are the Trade Agreements (most of which were negotiated by Helen Clark) and we are threatened currently with becoming signatories to the TTP. Our Bill of Rights has virtually no teeth – not to mention religious/Church organisations being blatantly able too violate human rights in the name of Faith/Religion! We are looking at our Constitution to write it or not to write it. For me these three factors, amongst others are utterly inter-connected and any Government looking to bring about constructive change is faced with doing so within this context – which has to change for the dignity and welfare of all people and survival of our planet as a habitat for humans and other species alike. These are, as Grant acknowledges, moral as well as ethical, justice and, above all, spiritual issues. Until politicians recognise that all people are intrinsically of equal dignity and worth and that the above situation needs to be altered accordingly, no piecemeal tinkering with what has happened to this country will be adequately effective. Labour needs to set about systematically undoing what Geoffrey Palmer proclaimed labour would do, and succeeded in doing, that is, change the culture of this country from a perspective of service and respect to the profit motive and commodification of people. The machinery put in place to make the changes proclaimed was systematic and comprehensive and immoral. I remember it well, but then I am much older that you are. Furthermore, of even greater importance is our understanding of the place of the human in planet earth, the universe, the context in which I lives have any meaning. Our industrialised, technological society is damaging the earth, causing unprecedented numbers of species to become extinct and destroying the physical and mental health of people and whole peoples. It is essential that all institutions operate out of our relatively new understanding of our evolutionary development and what that means for how we behave in the inextricable relationship we have with all that exists – we have the knowledge from science – we are acting blindly if we do not teach, learn and understand and act out of what we now know. QUESTION: To what extent does what I have written have meaning for you and if it does how will it inform the way in which you wIll operate as Leader of Labour (Prime Minister) or as a member of caucus working in solidarity to take this country into the future in a comprehensive, wholistic manner?
M Clare Pierson

The Labour Party has a reputation amongst much of middle New Zealand as being a supporter of the “nanny state,” multi-generational welfare and minority politics. How do you propose counteracting that negative perception while still communicating Labour’s values in a compelling way?
Rachel Jones

What specific policies have you seen working in other countries that you think could be imported into the New Zealand context?
Rachel Jones

What policy ideas do you have to offer the party that might be considered fresh and innovative?
Rachel Jones

Many people are frustrated with adversarial politics. Where do you see scope for reaching across the floor?
Rachel Jones

ENDS


Economy : How can we convince voters Labour’s economic policy will work? Labour Leadership Q&A #9

Posted by on September 12th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 9

Economy : How will you convince voters Labour’s economic policy will work?

Question : How can we get the voting public to believe that the present economic thinking has failed? And that Labour’s ideas will work for them?

Submitted by : Angie Croft, Christchurch

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Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog. This started Tuesday 10th September, and continues till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.

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LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES’ ANSWERS

Answer from Grant Robertson

We have to relate our economic vision to the reality of everyday lives.

This means an economy where people come before money. Where the centerpiece is full employment- decent jobs paying decent wages.

We need to talk about Labour using the power of government to help create a productive economy, not one like National’s that is based on speculation and selling off assets.

To create this economy we cannot tinker at the edges. We have to leave behind the neo liberal agenda and create a Labour way. This means changing the settings of monetary policy, giving Kiwi firms a fair go at government contracts, lifting wages, reducing power prices, building affordable homes and investing in industry and regional development.

The message from Labour must be, the economy will work for all New Zealanders not just John Key’s mates.

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Answer from David Cunliffe

We need to be clear that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) blew the lid off the myth that trickle-down economics will create a fairer, more prosperous New Zealand.

Free markets left to their own devices are ultimately destructive of human well-being. Unregulated markets tend towards monopolies and often concentrate vast wealth in the hands of a few. Neither outcome is sustainable or morally right.

When National says they are going to cut people’s legs off, Kiwis don’t want to hear that Labour will too, just nearer the ankles and with more anaesthetic. The post-GFC modern social democratic alternative must include:

• using the power of the state to intervene when markets fail;

• guaranteeing fair workplaces and decent wages through employment laws, including industry standard agreements;

• lifting the minimum wage to $15 and rolling out a living wage as fast as can be afforded;

• building new partnerships between communities, regions, industries and an empowering and investing State; and

• revised marco-economic settings that do not solely focus on inflation but include growth, employment, and our external balance.

New Zealand desperately needs change.

The next Labour Government mustn’t be more of the same.

I am offering Labour a bold economic agenda and leadership with the vision and economic credibility to see it through.

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Answer from Shane Jones

Our ideas are exciting. We will use both the market and the State.

I am convinced that our tax system can be refined to incentivise and expedite fresh investment.

Industry will be actively supported, regional development will be promoted and in special cases underwritten.

Our mix of economic stewardship and equity is desperately needed throughout NZ.

I have the experience and the communication skills to sell this narrative.

ENDS


The SkyCity Gamble

Posted by on September 3rd, 2013

Many New Zealanders think having a new international convention centre is desirable.  Few of them think paying for it via problem gambling is a good idea.

This Government is pushing a bad deal onto New Zealanders.

Steven Joyce’s own department estimates that 8000 more Aucklanders will be affected by the fallout from problem gambling.  Another report suggests the net benefit of the deal to the economy will be just 18 more jobs.

The Government originally tried to sell this deal as an economic development initiative, but because the economic benefits of the casino deal to New  Zealand are marginal, the debate has shifted to the problem gambling that is paying for it.

Why is the deal so bad? Simply put: it is because the Government *put itself* over a barrel in the negotiations.  A transparent process would have seen competitive bidders. Instead SkyCity were able to name their price from a Government already commited to saving political face through getting this deal done.

The Auditor General certainly pulled no punches in describing the process for what it was: “we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even handed”.

Treasury has made it clear that they are not convinced by the cost benefit analysis presented to Ministers.  Treasury expressed “strong concerns that private benefits to SkyCity will exceed public benefits to New Zealanders.”

The deal buys SkyCity an extra 230 pokie machines and an extension on its licence until 2048 in return for building the New Zealand International Convention Centre.  Even if you put the horrors of problem gambling to one side, comparison with overseas valuation of gambling rights shows taxpayers have been short-changed.

Sudhir Kale, a professor of marketing at Bond University in Queensland, and a friend of SkyCity CE Morrison has worked as a consultant at casinos on five continents.  He says the deal was a clear win for SkyCity. “He’s a friend, but if you want to quote me you can say: ‘Morrison did an excellent job negotiating with authorities’.” Kale calls the 27 year license extension ‘icing on the cake’.

The Treasury were spot-on when they said that public costs will flow to private gain once the centre is paid off.

And there may be worse to come.  The final negotiations on spend for the convention centre are set to happen during election year.  The Government has reserved itself the right to hand more taxpayer cash over to SkyCity to get the negotiation done.

The fact that gambling issues are treated as conscience issues in Parliament presents an opportunity to MPs; we are explicitly invited to exercise our consciences.

You may not have heard of the National MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga but he holds the deciding vote that could stop the extra pokies. Sam comes from a part of the country where pokies do more harm than almost anywhere else.  Signing the online petition to encourage him to change his mind is a practical step you can take to push for change.


What’s half a billion between the Government’s friends?

Posted by on May 8th, 2013

Half a billion dollars. $500 million dollars. It’s an almost unimaginable amount of money to an ordinary person.

Half a billion is almost a third of Police’s annual budget. It’s more than DOC’s entire funding.

It’s a year’s wages for 4,150 experienced nurses and 4,150 experienced secondary school teachers as well.

It’s $113 for every man, woman and child in New Zealand.

And it’s the amount National promised Peter Dunne last week for potential overruns in his “upgrade” of IRD’s computer system.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not talking about the known project costs – National has committed $1 billion for those.

The extra half a billion is just in case Mr Dunne blows through the first billion without getting the job done. It’s a shadowy “slush fund” equal to half the basic worked-out cost of the project.

And let’s be frank – the Revenue Minister’s reputation for basic maths hasn’t been strong of late. This year Dunne’s had to back down on reckless new taxes on car parks and iPads and laptops and cellphones, because Labour proved he hadn’t done his sums.

But what do the experts think? Well accountants KPMG reviewed Mr Dunne’s project at the end of last year and there appear to be real issues with the way it has been set up.

Here’s what KPMG said:

“We do not believe the timeline presented… is achievable. A programme of this complexity, where scoping and articulation of long-list options, a robust options assessment (critical for Treasury support) and the programme’s design (i.e. ordering of tranches and projects) have not yet occurred.”

Now Labour does agree the IRD’s FIRST mainframe is not fit for the internet age. IRD started as a revenue collecting department, but now it has responsibilities in KiwiSaver, child support and student loans.

But surely a project of this magnitude needs to be planned better than “give or take half a billion”? Especially after this Government’s total botch-up with Novopay.

It all beggars belief really, just as National and Peter Dunne will beggar New Zealand until they’re given the boot at the next election.


Saving New Zealand’s own eel

Posted by on April 23rd, 2013

We’re a passionate people about our natural environment. From the kiwi to the kauri, from the black robin to Maui’s dolphin, our shared sense of responsibility to protect (and when necessary save) our native flora and fauna unites New Zealanders from all walks of life.

The longfin eel (known in Te Reo Māori as tuna) is this country’s only native eel. It’s an amazing species.

Longfin eel only reproduce once in their lifetimes. When the females reach about 80 years of age their instinct drives them from their homes in freshwater streams and rivers out into the sea, and onto a journey of thousands of kilometres to the Tonga Trench where they breed and pass away. Their spawn are carried by ocean currents all the way back to New Zealand, where they make their way up the rivers and that very slow reproductive cycle begins again.

Tuna are taonga to many Hapu and iwi, and at times in history they have been a crucial food protein source for Māori.

Indeed eel is a reasonably popular food in West European markets, particularly in Belgium and the Benelux countries. New Zealand fishers have long exported to Europe and recently there’s been some tentative steps towards selling into Asia.

The available science shows longfins are in decline. They are particularly susceptible to water pollution and sedimentation, and their slow breeding cycle has been disrupted by overfishing and damming of rivers.

Perhaps the starkest evidence is the size of the commercial fishery. At 82 tons it has dropped a whopping 96% since the 1960s.

Yet, for all which we do know, our longfins remain mysterious creatures – and we as a country don’t have adequate science to know just what is required to turn around their path to extinction.

That’s a gross failing on the part of Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, who is supposed to be responsible for fisheries science, as well as Conservation Minister Nick Smith who is responsible for the DOC estate where much of the population lives.

In the face of hands-off inaction from the Government, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, launched her own investigation into the status of longfin eels. Last week Commissioner Wright released her comprehensive report, and it’s a true landmark.

The Commissioner calls for better science, which is a no-brainer – but also for a total moratorium on the commercial fishery.

Now a moratorium is a bold step which would hit fishing communities and some iwi in the pocket. However if the eels go extinct the outcome is the same – only we’d all be the losers.

Conservationists and fishing industries around the world have long looked to New Zealand as an example of a country where the people care for the environment, and as a an early leader in science-based quota management. If the choice is extinction or saving our native eel, then I expect New Zealanders will want their Government to take responsibility and rescue our natural heritage.

So the Government’s deafening silence in the face of Commissioner Wright’s report has been truly disturbing. Ministers haven’t even issued press releases, and the only acknowledgement of the report has come from officials.

I asked Nathan Guy “Is he concerned that the longfin eel (tuna) might go extinct; if so, why, if not, why not?” and here’s what he said:

I will not be able provide the Member with a response within the timeframe available and will endeavour to provide this response at the earliest opportunity.

I received that non-answer three weeks ago but haven’t heard a peep from the Minister since.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment couldn’t have been clearer that the time for action is now. If we don’t commit to saving our native eel then it will go extinct – and extinction is forever.

Could it be that the National Government are so hands-off and hostile to the environment that they just don’t care?


Tell us it’s Dunne and dusted now Peter

Posted by on March 13th, 2013

United Future leader and Revenue Minister Peter Dunne’s belated recognition that he holds a casting vote in John Key and Steven Joyce’s shonkey SkyCity convention centre deal is welcome.

The question remains, however, whether Dunne will use his veto to stop the sale of our country’s laws to a casino.

Because he most certainly should.

By Dunne’s own admission the National Government “did play very fast and loose at times” during the rotten tender.

The Deputy Auditor-General was more clear – the deal was “unfair” and managed so the “SkyCity proposal was always going to be the most attractive”.

Last week Dunne (finally) appeared to lay down a challenge to the National Government which he otherwise supports:

There is a time-bomb warning to the government here. Support for the cut through approach will wither if it is seen to be a standard proxy for bending the rules or doing special deals to achieve the desired outcome. While the government is not immediately vulnerable on this issue, the clock has started ticking.

And it is worth remembering the adage, the ends do not justify the means.

Well National has responded to Dunne’s challenge.

I asked Steven Joyce written Parliamentary question [1307 (2013)]:

Does he regret any of his actions as Minister for Economic Development related to the Government’s decision to negotiate with SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd for an international convention centre; if he does, which actions?

And Joyce has (finally) responded with one word:

No.

This is just about the only time I can recall the Economic Development Minister giving a straight answer to any question. But what an answer it is.

With one word Joyce has confirmed he’s learned nothing from the Deputy Auditor-General’s scathing criticism. He’s thumbed his nose at fair and proper process, at accountability to the people of this country, and at their hard-earned (but fast fading) reputation for having the lowest level of Government corruption in the world. Joyce has effectively confirmed that so long as he’s a Minister he’ll trade New Zealand’s laws if he sniffs a special deal for the big end of town.

So there you have it Peter Dunne. National do think the ends justify the means. The time-bomb has exploded.

And you – and only you – can put a stop to this madness.

The question the whole country wants to know is whether you will. So do it today Mr Dunne.


Economic Development

Posted by on February 28th, 2013

David Shearer has been clear from the start that he wants a clean, green, diversified economy – to ensure New Zealand’s future prosperity.

With my appointment as Economic Development Spokeperson comes a big challenge. We need to present a credible plan to get to a prosperous diversified economy.  I’m excited about this opportunity.

Steven Joyce spent a year with the huge bureaucratic resources of MoBIE and failed to map anything but a managed decline. His ‘Business Growth Agenda’ finalised yesterday has proven little more that a year long coms plan. It’s been a year of existing policy re-heats with a few meek ideas thrown in for colour.

But Joyce is vulnerable. Because the facts are drowning out his spin.

Last year 30,000 jobs were lost.  Unemployment is pushing 7%.  1000+ Kiwis are leaving for Australia permanently every week.

No amount of spin can hide the fact that the Government has no plan for sustainable economic growth. Selling off our best revenue-generating assets is National’s big idea.  Treasury says it will set back the Government coffers by about $100m/year. Other than that, they intend things to continue as they are.

I’ve always maintained that the market makes an excellent servant and a terrible master. And this Government is failing to control the market. It is failing to deliver jobs. Right now so many hard-working New Zealanders are being treated like its slaves, forced to be grateful for any scraps that fall from the table. A full 40% of Kiwis earn less than a living wage.

Labour already has chunky policy announced that will lead to economic growth, jobs and an export-led recovery. In particular we want a pro-growth capital gains tax, Research and Develoment Tax Credits, Universal Kiwisaver, Pro-Kiwi procurement policy and tools for the Reserve Bank that will allow it to do what overseas countries are doing to assist their exporters.  These changes will give the economy a shot in the arm and create jobs.

There is more to explore.  Sector-specific incentives for growth beg consideration, as do the implications of Labour’s affordable and healthy housing announcements.  They will create jobs as will our commitment to creating more apprenticeships.  Labour wants a market that generates jobs, living wages and future prosperity for our country.

We need change, because the old solutions have been shown to fail. Right now, the market and it’s hands-off disciple Mr Joyce are not working in the interest of New Zealanders.


Moving on to the next challenge

Posted by on February 25th, 2013

I have enjoyed the Health portfolio. It is huge and arguably, it takes longer than one year to get around and establish networks. I have been doing that in the past year and I am grateful to all those who were prepared to engage intelligently and repeatedly with me. I have been pleased to stick up for diabetics in the disastrous changeover to the Care Sens blood glucose meters. It was a mistake and should be rescinded. It affects the way people manage their diabetes and directly impacts their well being, especially for Type 1 diabetics.

I have also made a running on the increase in prescription charges, changes to pharmacists’ contracts with the DHBs, and the burden of implementation of changes falling on local pharmacies. This sector is in chaos and Tony Ryall continues to pretend that there is nothing to see here. Shelves full of uncollected prescriptions would say otherwise. If people can’t afford medicines, and some clearly can’t, we are only going to see additional hospitalisations further town the track.  This isn’t rocket science – just medical science.

But now I take up a new challenge with the Environment portfolio.  And there are challenges aplenty.  We would all love our myth of being 100% pure to become fact again but we need aggressive leadership in this area if that is ever to happen. From our waterways to our air quality, and much more besides, there is much to do to restore our natural environment and to protect it for future generations.  I look forward to that challenge.

Thanks again to all you good health folk for working with me over the last year.  Keep up the good work!


Today the house must not win

Posted by on February 20th, 2013

New Zealand is a small, remote country with an unfortunate reliance on imported capital to maintain our standard of living. A crucial insurance for the economy is New Zealanders’ hard-earned reputation for having the lowest level of government corruption in the world.

Or at least that’s something we had.

I write this post with the heaviest of hearts because I know how completely National has jeopardised the economy. I know how foreign investors will be frightened by the truth. Their reaction could see more hardworking and innocent Kiwis turfed on the unemployment scrapheap.

Ultimately, though, there is an overwhelming public interest in having on record just how low Prime Minister John Key and his factotum Steven Joyce have sunk in their bid to trade our country’s laws for a casino’s cash.

Yesterday the Deputy Auditor-General released her report into the tender process for the SkyCity convention centre. At 71 pages it is among the longest and most damning auditor’s reports I have seen. John Armstrong, writing in the New Zealand Herald, assessed the tender as “verging on banana republic kind of stuff without the bananas.” Armstrong was too polite.

Labour leader David Shearer summed the report up more completely: “Kiwis know [Key] was donkey deep in this entire process. The deal with SkyCity was his idea. He knew exactly what was going on and was pulling the strings behind the scenes.”

I have followed the convention centre tender since it first came to public light in 2010 – months after John Key had a cozy dinner with the casino company’s board and (in the PM’s own words) “discussed a possible National Convention Centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003”.

As time has passed I have become more and more outraged by what was transparently a stacked process seemingly designed to ensure SkyCity was the only tenderer left standing at the end.

All throughout the National Government have obfuscated, played cat-and-mouse games with the Opposition and the media, and denied multiple Official Information Act requests on the most specious of grounds.

Not only did ministers refuse to answer more than 100 of my parliamentary questions on the SkyCity deal – but they even took to using the SkyCity deal as a supposed reason to refuse answering dozens of questions which were quite unrelated to the casino!

The Commerce Select Committee (which I am a member of) even had to take the most extraordinary step of recalling Ministry of Economic Development/MoBIE officials to a second testimony session, following their failure to answer legitimate questions as part of the committee’s 2011/12 financial review.

As the years passed and the stench of the rotten tender grew overpowering, the sole explanation Key and Joyce offered for their preference for SkyCity was that taxpayers wouldn’t foot the bill for the conference centre. But that was an outright lie – $2.1 million of your dollars were diverted from the Christchurch earthquake recovery effort and other economic development programmes to support the convention centre design!

Finally, when the Deputy Auditor-General prudently announced a probe into the whole sordid affair, Steven Joyce vowed to push on in contempt of her. In my time in Parliament I have never seen anything like it.

But now the auditor has published her report. Her findings are damning and they back up what I have been saying and what my Labour colleagues have been saying since 2010. It is beyond comprehension that Steven Joyce did not resign from the ministry immediately after receiving the report.

The Deputy Auditor-General’s findings include (and I quote):

  1. We do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even-handed (p5).
  2. SkyCity was treated very differently from the other parties that responded [to the tender] and the evaluation process effectively moved into a different phase with one party… the steps that were taken were not consistent with good practice principles of transparency and fairness (p5).
  3. The Prime Minister/Minister of Tourism… annotated the [tender] briefing paper by hand, stating that “we should close off the SkyCity angle first” (p15).
  4. It was well known among officials that SkyCity had met with various senior Minister in the previous months. In our view, there was an obvious risk that SkyCity would have a better understanding of the Government’s thoughts than other participants (p45).
  5. There were a number of flaws with the way the evaluation process unfolded during 2010 (p50).
  6. Given the nature of the responses, it is likely that the SkyCity proposal was always going to be the most attractive (p51).

So what are the broad consequences for New Zealand?

Has the opaque and unfair SkyCity deal been scrapped? No.

Instead National has thumbed its nose at the auditor’s office and is about to restart the negotiations. They have to finalise pesky details such as how anyone will receive the television news once a hulking great pokie palace is plonked where our state broadcaster has some of its studios.

Has the Government promised not to change the law to flood central Auckland with very low-taxed pokies, while taking money out of high-taxed pub pokies which fund kids’ learn to swim programmes and quit gambling programmes?

It’s a no to that too.

As my Labour colleague Ruth Dyson succinctly put it “The convention centre will not be ‘free’. The social cost for New Zealanders and their families battling problem gambling will be significant.”

So National seem quite happy to plough along with their trade in our laws, whatever the consequences. Well Labour will fight them every step of the way. I can only hope that the government’s support partners in the Māori and United Future parties will do the right thing and join us.

Ultimately, though, this is not only about one shady deal – although one shady deal is clearly one too many.

This speaks to the whole world about what sort of country New Zealand is in our collective soul. It speaks to the truth about whether we have a clean government which stands up and stops corruption wherever its finds it. Or whether we don’t.

And it speaks to our longstanding core values of egalitarianism and equality. Labour MPs face the human casualties of the National government’s economic mismanagement in our electorate offices every week. We know the despair felt by ordinary, honest kiwis who can plainly see that John Key’s ‘brighter future’ means one law for them and sweet deals for his mates at the big end of town.

The casino deal is a total disgrace. Clearly John Key and Steven Joyce don’t care.

So, in light of the Deputy Auditor-General’s report, I am publicly calling on SkyCity to formally withdraw their current tender. That should trigger the entire process to restart from the beginning, so it can be run fairly and transparently.

I look forward to SkyCity’s quick, positive and public response.

Extra: David Shearer, Grant Robertson, David Parker and Ruth Dyson all gave excellent speeches on the convention centre deal in Parliament today. Well worth a watch!


National 100% dirty on the environment and the economy

Posted by on November 15th, 2012

This month the National Government pulled New Zealand out of the Kyoto II negotiations to tackle climate change. With John Key’s blessing, the Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser put our country squarely in the fringe group of the world’s big polluters. How can National expect the developing world to commit to targets for curbing emissions when they won’t show good faith by doing the same?

Everyone can see the National Party are lost in a time warp on economics and the environment. In National’s twilight every problem can be ignored just as long as their mates can milk more cows and burn more coal, and especially if everyone else can be kept quiet. That’s why National abolished democracy in Canterbury: they’re so consumed with protecting their failed ideologies from the facts that they can’t even tolerate Cantabrians having a voice to say our rivers shouldn’t be making kids sick.

Today the Pure Advantage clean-tech group of business leaders issued their second landmark report on the multi-trillion opportunity in clean-tech and renewable energy.

The report comes with detailed analysis from some of the world’s leading economists and climate scientists. It’s a must read for anyone with an interest in turning around New Zealand’s economic decline.

Pure Advantage’s contribution proves what most New Zealanders instinctively know: the economy and the environment are two sides of the same coin. Protecting our environment not only doesn’t have to harm our economy – it can be the best thing for it.

Earlier this year, when Pure Advantage launched their first report, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce responded with an insulting attack on the trustees which include Sir George Fistonich, Rob Fyfe, Chris Liddell, Phillip Mills, Jeremy Moon, Rob Morrison, Geoff Ross, Justine Smythe, Mark Solomon, Sir Stephen Tindall, Joan Withers and Duncan Stewart.

But today Bill English was trotted out to do the government’s dirty work.

The Finance Minister had hours of advanced warning that I would be grilling the government about Pure Advantage: my question was on written notice.

But in all that time English didn’t even bother to read the report. It’s a 100% dirty disgrace.

In the coming days National MPs will spout all the usual nonsense and deny and demean science and sustainable economic growth, and may abuse the Pure Advantage team some more (unless they’ve learned from their earlier foot-in-mouth outbreak).

But the facts are clear. This government took New Zealand out of the international effort to stop climate change and they’ve just set a new record for unemployment too. National have no credibility on either the environment or the economy.

The only way New Zealand will have a clean, green, clever and growing economy is if Kiwis clean the National Party out of our Parliament come election time.


The right-wing track

Posted by on November 13th, 2012

History suggests the “right track” in politics often leads to inequality and bad outcomes for ordinary people.

Back when today’s university students were still in kindergarten Bill English was New Zealand’s Finance Minister. English’s first half-life at Treasury is mainly remembered for setting a new record in unemployment.

Decades later, zombie-like, Bill English is back with responsibility for our economy. And last week history repeated when the National Government set a new record for unemployment in our country: 7.3% and trending upwards.

A reasonable person might expect the minister to reconsider his policies now he’s won a double-crown for atrocious economic management. After all English was a dry neoliberal obsessed with his ideologies and prejudices and wholly unmoved by evidence last time around. Now in John Key’s government he’s exactly the same and it’s delivered exactly the same awful result.

But no, there is no reflection. Today Bill English was asked in Parliament “What results has he seen of progress in the Government’s programme to build a more competitive economy?”

He replied “We have seen good, steady results.”

If record and growing unemployment is a good result for Bill English then what on earth would a bad result be? Probably it’s an economy where his mates have to pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us.

But the Finance Minister’s boss sets the tone. And John Key has Steven Joyce as his as Economic Development Minister alongside Bill English so that says it all really.

Almost as soon as the Finance Minister had resumed his seat the Prime Minister jumped up to proclaim “I definitely think we are on the right track”.

The “right track”? Seriously?

Every fair-minded Kiwi can see that 7.3% unemployment is unacceptable. People know that declines in job ads, and over-speculated currencies, and unaffordable housing, and manufacturers in crisis, and the exodus of young people to Australia might be the result of right-wing policies. But the policies are not right.

Under National, the only track New Zealand is on is the right-wing track to ruin.


Unemployment: The National scourge

Posted by on November 9th, 2012

The National Party is a downright irresponsible manager of New Zealand’s economy.

John Key inherited from Labour one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world. This Prime Minister promised to create 170,000 new jobs, but instead we have 175,000 looking for work.

Overall unemployment  is up to an horrific 7.3%. That’s the worst rate in 13 years – and guess which party was in government the last time things were this bad.

What’s worse is when you drill down into the detail. It’s much worse.

Auckland’s unemployment rate is up to 8.6% at the exact same time as tax-driven property speculation pushes house prices hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond what ordinary families can afford.

In the Hawkes Bay unemployment is now 8.9%. Like the Bay of Plenty and Southland, the Hawkes Bay has thousands of conscientious Kiwis who want to work but who have been completely disappointed and let down by their government.

What really worries me, though, is the youth unemployment rate for 15 to 19 year olds. It’s now 25%! What sort of New Zealand can we expect if one in four of our kids have no hope of even getting a job? Our young people will give up and leave for Australia, like so many of their peers before them. The few who stay will never know an affordable education, or a sustainable public health system, or a livable pension. It’s so unfair to our children.

Earlier this week I wrote about just one element of Labour’s plans to turn this mess around, the importance of pro-growth tax reform. The global orthodoxy has changed and big discussions are happening in economics. Labour is fully engaged in the discussions and we’re energised too. Kiwis need us to be.

But National MPs are as “relaxed” as ever while our beautiful country collapses. They should feel nothing but shame for their government’s record.

There is one thing all Kiwis can do to fight back. In 2014 New Zealand will have a general election. The people can show 59 National MPs just what a scourge unemployment is.

Please join the Labour Party. Give hope to our young people. Help put New Zealand’s best days ahead of us again.

 

The National disappointment.


Manufacturing in crisis: Why pro-growth tax reform matters

Posted by on November 8th, 2012

During the last two weeks new data has confirmed what we already knew: manufacturing is in crisis. Far more manufacturing businesses are closing than opening and half the manufacturers that started up in 2008 have since gone bust. Iconic Kiwi manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Appliances has been sold offshore and will be delisted from the stock exchange. Advanced crystals manufacturer Rakon has laid off 60 hardworking New Zealanders. Dynamic Controls, a leader in high-tech mobility systems, is moving to close their New Zealand plant.

At the same time the overheated property market in Auckland is rearing its head again.

And just today we learned unemployment has climbed to a horrific 7.3%. Change is clearly needed in New Zealand.

Reform starts with the realisation that the current tax system has a fundamental and inappropriate bias towards speculation and against production and exports. So it is timely to note what a pro-growth tax package should contain, and why it matters to New Zealand’s manufacturing sector economic development.

New Zealand is one of only 3 OECD countries that does not have a capital gains tax and, as my colleague David Parker has noted, both the OECD and the IMF have reminded us this creates real problems.

Why should every dollar that you and I earn in wages or business profits be taxed, while nearly every dollar arising from gains in the value of property or shares or business ownership is tax free?

It’s not fair. And it’s just  not good for the economy either.

Making property speculation tax-free drives money into the property sector, meaning more competition to buy properties, meaning rents go up, and meaning young families are locked out of home ownership.

Making capital gains on business disposals tax-free simply makes an incentive for entrepreneurs to sell their businesses offshore, instead of growing taxable profits and creating jobs in New Zealand. A case in point is the “accountant farmer” who collects farms to realise capital gains, instead of farming to make sustainable profits.

A simple capital gains tax can help move the distortion that currently exists because of our biased tax system.

Without a CGT, the National Government is penalising innovators, meaning the positive spill-overs to our economy of a healthy innovation system are never fully captured by the innovators themselves. Capital is too scarce for young companies trying to commercialise research and development, and too many sell up early and lose their intellectual property to offshore buyers.

That’s why Labour believes a realisation-based, first-home-exempt fair capital gains tax is a no-brainer. All our polling indicates a New Zealanders are coming to agree.

Pro-growth tax reform also means giving our innovators a break; recognising the huge spill-over effects for our economy from a healthy innovation ecosystem.

R&D tax credits create a positive incentive (as opposed to the negative incentive around property). They encourage companies to look forward to future opportunities and help create a more neutral and long sited production environment and create high-value jobs.

Labour is looking seriously at how to bring back R&D tax incentives based on a survey of world best practise. My colleagues David Clark and Megan Woods are working on the link between taxation and innovation.

The bottom line is this: Everyone except the National Government can see the current system is not working. The IMF says we will have the OECD’s largest current account deficit by next year – bigger than Greece! That’s a road to ruin for today’s businesses and tomorrow’s young New Zealanders, so something must change.

Labour, the Greens, NZ First and MANA have launched an inquiry into manufacturing, and we expect submitters will canvass these important issues (along with other crucial issues like the over-valued and over-speculated dollar). Interested people should submit at manufacturinginquiry.org.nz.


We borrow the world from our children

Posted by on October 25th, 2012

I was reminded today of an ancient proverb:

We do not inherit our world from our parents, we borrow it from our children.

That’s a sound philosophy for any Parliamentarian but, sadly, I doubt many of the MPs on the National side of the House will agree with it.

I very rarely talk about my family in Parliament. I do my best to protect my kids from the vicissitudes of politics because they didn’t chose my job and they miss out on enough with me being in Wellington so often. Today, though, I was thinking about my sons and about their future children.

I know that, if things keep going as they are, then one day my sons will ask “Dad, why didn’t you do more to stop them from destroying our planet?”

National’s Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Bill is very dishonestly named. It’s the National Party’s latest attempt to gut the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) by giving special exemptions to their traditional backers and fundraisers. It’s an attempt to force everyone who sees through National’s spin to give a multi-billion dollar subsidy to people who don’t give a stuff about the next generation of New Zealanders.

Climate change is a scientific fact. It’s not a philosophy, it’s not a political statement. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists around the world say our climate is dangerously changing and humans are contributing to that change. Those who deny the scientific reality are often uninformed, in the pocket of Big Pollution, or lost in the conspiratorial fringe twilight.

Or they’re National Party MPs.

The last Labour Government’s ETS was world leading, moderate, but broad-based. It was a model the rest of the world were looking to as a way to smooth the necessary transition to a low-carbon future. National have already destroyed most of the gains that were made, and today’s children will surely pay the price for their recklessness – just as we’re all paying for National’s recklessness in abolishing Labour’s superannuation scheme in the 1970s.

This latest National environmental vandalism puts New Zealand squarely in the group of climate science denying countries. It’s a 100% Pure Disgrace.

National’s support partner, the Māori Party, are refusing to back National’s latest attack on science, so John Key and his mates are relying on the single vote of Peter Dunne to wreck the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Labour wants the Bill withdrawn, of course. But, as National won’t do that, we’ve put forward amendments, including:

  1. Ensuring the ETS is an all-sectors all-gasses scheme, so everyone plays an equal part in the solution.
  2. Bringing agriculture into the ETS in 2015, as scheduled, so a huge advantage isn’t given to the minority of dirty farmers who’ve done nothing to prepare for this long-established deadline.
  3. Restricting international units to 50% so that New Zealand Units are preferred over international ones, thus protecting our forestry industry.
  4. Make the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) publish annually the amount industries charge their customers for carbon.

National aren’t having a bar of any of it. As I type National MPs are sitting in our Parliament cravenly doing the bidding of their funders in Big Pollution. They genuinely seem to think if they can only get this Bill through then climate change will be history!

When Labour comes to government we will put good science and innovation at the core of our environmental and economic policies. We will put in place policies that support a future that is clean, green and clever.


Spotted in Southland

Posted by on October 19th, 2012

The National Government doesn’t care about jobs in Southland.

But the people of Otatara do – and so does Labour.


Minister for Abuse needs to read David Shearer’s speech

Posted by on October 18th, 2012

It was great to be with finance spokesperson David Parker and local Wigram MP Megan Woods in Christchurch today to see our leader David Shearer deliver his Jobs that work for you speech.

New Zealand has suffered through four years of economic vandalism under the National government. Manufacturing and exporting is in crisis, thousands and thousands and thousands have been chucked on the unemployment scrapheap, and new records have been set almost every month for the numbers of disappointed New Zealanders moving to Australia.

Through it all National ministers have alternated between denying the facts and pretending there’s nothing that can be done.

Well David Shearer knows what New Zealanders know – the government has a responsibility to turn the country’s decline around, and David and Labour are intent on doing it.

Some of David’s bold and responsible proposals include:

  1. Expanding the scope of the Reserve Bank so the Governor can look at important economic wellness measures other than inflation,
  2. Expanding KiwiSaver to build the pot of capital for businesses to access to grow,
  3. Getting Government agencies to focus on purchasing from New Zealand suppliers,
  4. Launching a ‘one in a million’ target for significant government contracts. This would mean companies who win big contracts would be required to take on one apprentice or one trainee for every $1 million contract received.
  5. Pro-growth tax reform, including a capital gains tax to get investment flowing to real jobs and exports (not property speculators).
  6. Putting more checks and balances in place for employers who’d hire workers from overseas instead of job-seeking Kiwis.

No sooner had David finished speaking then guess who launches a petty and spiteful attack – Minister for abusing all and sundry and Finland, Gerry Brownlee.

Brownlee might have helped himself if he’d bothered to read David’s speech. He might have gotten some of his facts straight but, more importantly, it might have made him pay attention to the jobs crisis. Brownlee should read the speech because it’s full of ideas and his National government have none.

The minister seems to believe David was laying out a peculiarly Christchurch policy. Christchurch’s recovery is crucial – that’s why the entire Labour Caucus visited there this month, and it’s where we heard more about how major employers are shutting up shop and trainee teachers have no jobs to go to next year.

But if Brownlee had read David’s speech he’d know it’s a strategy for all New Zealanders and all of New Zealand. If ever evidence was needed of the myopic and selfish thinking in the National Party, it’s found in Mr Brownlee’s seeming inability to care about anyone past the end of his own gate.

Brownlee went on to paint a picture of growth in jobs which is completely at odds with reality. He misled his readers by quoting from an old job ads report while deliberately ignoring the current figures published by MoBIE – a government department which he has some ministerial responsibility for!

For Gerry Brownlee’s education, the official government figures show there was a 5.4% drop in online skilled job ads in September – including a 1.4% decline in skilled job ads in Canterbury. Brownlee cited positive job ads figures for Taranaki and the Bay of Plenty, but the official figures say skilled job ads in those regions crashed a horrific 9.9% last month.

Having already humiliated New Zealand in front of the world with his abuse of Finnish people this year, Brownlee should have learned to do his homework before attacking people. He should have focussed on the things that matter to ordinary New Zealanders, like whether they’ll have a job next week.

Now his abuse is exposed for the world to see all over again.

Gerry Brownlee should apologise to David Shearer, and he should read David’s speech because it’s full of excellent ideas and the National government has failed.


Ostrich economics

Posted by on October 18th, 2012

There’s a crisis in manufacturing and the National government seems not to have noticed. But doing an “ostrich” doesn’t alter what’s happening in the real world.

This year Labour’s economic team have met with exporters and manufacturers all around the country. We’ve heard over and over again how those sectors are in crisis because of the National government’s hands-off-and-hope policies.

Even if you’re not in exporting or manufacturing yourself, while you live in New Zealand you’re affected by those sectors’ decline. 40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2008, and because unemployed people have nothing to spend they’re not reinvesting in their local communities. The facts are that there was a 14% decline in simply transformed manufactured exports and a 10% decline in elaborately transformed manufactured exports from the 2008 to the 2012 financial years.

Things are getting worse too. Just yesterday we found out job ads fell 4.5% in September (with a 5.4% decline in skilled job ads), so yet another record might be set for Kiwis giving up and moving to Australia.

Exporters and manufacturers aren’t just talking to us about their problems – they’re pleading to anybody who will listen. Unfortunately the National government are so arrogant they won’t give fair hearing to people who don’t subscribe to their dated ideologies.

In the face of government inaction Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First have come together to hold a parliamentary inquiry into the manufacturing crisis. We’ll keep you updated via Red Alert as that progresses.

Exporters and manufacturers have repeatedly told us their #1 problem is the unsustainably high and over-speculated Kiwi dollar. New Zealand contributes about 0.23% to world GDP, but our dollar is among the most traded globally. It seems that New Zealand’s money has become a plaything for John Key’s New York currency trader mates.

The government’s monetary policies have a huge impact on the dollar. Labour supports an independent Reserve Bank Governor, but we completely reject National’s apparent dogma that an independent Governor means the government has no responsibility for the economy.

The government are responsible for the wording of the Reserve Bank Act, not the bank’s Governor. The current Act makes controlling inflation the primary responsibility of the Governor – to the deliberate exclusion of consideration of other important measures of economic wellbeing, such as the current account and value of the dollar. Exporters tell us that’s madness and we agree (and so do the Greens and New Zealand First).

The National government are responsible for agreeing the inflation policy target range. In recent years that policy agreement has targeted 1% to 3% inflation in any one year. That’s the agreement that finance minister Bill English has signed.

But now the IMF is forecasting for New Zealand’s current account deficit to be the worst in the developed world next year  - and with inflation at 0.8% for the year below the target range. So the bank isn’t delivering the single target that the National government has given to it. And all the while New Zealand’s economy is collapsing around us and ordinary Kiwis are losing their livelihoods and leaving the country.

A thinking and responsible government would take from this that something must change.

But yesterday when David Parker and I questioned Bill English in Parliament, the minister barely even addressed how inflation is forecast to drop below his target range – let alone concede there is a problem (or announce any rethink of his obviously failed policies).

How much economic misery does New Zealand have to endure? Will there be any jobs left by the time Labour is elected at the next election? Will there be any young people left on this side of the ditch to fill them?


No hope on Planet Joyce

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012

RADIO NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL [TRANSCRIPT], MORNING REPORT, 2 OCTOBER 2012:

Geoff Robinson (RadioNZ): So this is the grumpy growth, is it?

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce: Well it’s a little bit that way. I mean it’s also the grumpy Treasury. I notice that they didn’t pick the March quarter number and they didn’t pick the June quarter number, and now they’re picking a low number for the next quarter, so, we can only hope that they continue to get their numbers wrong.


Exodus honesty

Posted by on September 21st, 2012


166,000 loved ones gone to Australia since Key became PM – and counting…

Yet another all-time record has been set for the number of Kiwis leaving for Australia. The National Government just cannot continue with this dishonest head-in-the-sand approach to what can only be described as an exodus.

The latest figures show a net loss of 39,956 people to Australia in the year to August 2012 – the biggest loss ever.

More than 166,000 Kiwis have given up on a future in this country and moved to Australia since John Key became the Prime Minister. That’s the equivalent of three Invercargills and then some!

In 2008 National candidates promised over and over again to reverse the brain drain. But since they’ve gotten into Government they’ve: cut wages, cut access to education, cut services, increased GST on the poorest so they could pay for tax breaks for their mates, and thrown thousands and thousands and thousands of New Zealanders on the unemployment scrapheap.

It just seems National is unwilling to take the steps that New Zealanders know are needed to get out economy moving again. Things like:

  1.  Rebuilding our export and manufacturing heart through monetary reforms that will drive a more stable and realistic exchange rate, instead of heading for dollar parity with the US dollar,
  2. Creating more local savings available for positive local businesses to grow and employ Kiwis who might otherwise jump the ditch, through measures like universal KiwiSaver and pro-growth tax reform,
  3. Revving up our innovation engine through R&D tax credits, increased direct investment, and better linking out research institutes, universities and businesses together,
  4. Building high performance work places that enhance productivity and pay good wages with decent conditions. Finance Minister Bill English actually seems to love the idea of a “low cost” and low waged economy. Everyone else wants New Zealand to be a high value economy,
  5. Actively partnering with regions and industry sectors to create sustainable growth and strong communities all around New Zealand.

Unless we do these things, unless we have the courage to make changes, then the terrible slide currently underway will continue and the numbers of skilled young Kiwis giving up on a future here will continue to grow. These are not just words. We are talking about real humans struggling through an economic crisis, and unless New Zealand has a government that is prepared to act strongly and decisively to deal with it then we are on a road to ruin.

Ultimately this emigration crisis cannot be sustained, either by New Zealand or by Australia.

There is a terrible hollowing out of young people who want to make a contribution, and this will jeopardise Kiwi healthcare and superannuation in the decades to come.

Even the Australians are fed up. Across the ditch Government MP Kelvin Thompson is working to stop the free movement of people between our countries. If he is successful, without any jobs or hope at home, then the result could potentially be serious unrest in New Zealand.

John Key has had four years and the evidence is clear. National’s dishonest promises are not matched by workable policies. That party need to pull their heads out of the sand and look at how out of whack they’ve gotten New Zealand with the OECD orthodoxy.

How many Kiwis need to head for the departure lounges before this Government wakes up? How much damage has to be done to New Zealand and our shared future before they take off the ideological blinkers?

How much hope needs to be destroyed before National takes the responsibility they promised to take when they were trying to win the election?