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Party Leadership : What Labour values drive your work for New Zealand? Labour Leadership Q&A #11

Posted by on September 13th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 11

Party Leadership : What key Labour values drive your work for New Zealand?

Question : 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?

Submitted by : Annalise Roache, Auckland


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.



Answer from David Cunliffe

My values are Labour values. I know that all I am now and all I ever will be came from the opportunities New Zealand gave me when I was growing up.

I was born in Te Aroha, a small town in the heart of the Waikato. I grew up in a vicarage and some earliest memories are of mixing with the wealthiest families in the district, and with those who were doing it tough.

In Te Kuiti, when the cement works closed and the milling tapered off, unemployment and poverty were all around us.

I remember proud and good people, who through no fault of their own, were thrown into a situation of having nothing.

Not that my family was rich by any means. We knew what it was like to struggle.

As a teenager, my Dad lived with serious illness and there was little to spare. I worked evenings and weekends in a fish and chip shop, and I mucked out pig pens for a dollar an hour.

But I was also given huge opportunities thanks to a great education at the local state school. This was the foundation of all my opportunities that followed.

I have been incredibly lucky in my life and I am really committed to making sure that the same opportunities are open to all New Zealanders.

I want to build a fairer, more inclusive New Zealand with a future that is full of opportunities for our kids; a good public education; housing; free health care and a secure retirement.

A decent New Zealand. That is what Labour stands for and that’s why I am Labour.


Answer from Shane Jones

I joined the Labour Party because of its history of reform. It has championed the interests of Maori and other minorities.

Fairness and collective responsibility for all sectors in our society is a key principle for Labour and New Zealand.

This motivates me.


Answer from Grant Robertson

I never really considered joining another political party. My family’s links with Labour meant it was part of my DNA.

But as I was leaving school at the end of the 1980s I felt I could not join the Labour Party given the direction it was taking under Rogernomics.

I settled for campaigning against user pays in education for the next few years, but under Helen Clark’s leadership I saw that there was an opportunity for Labour to re-build New Zealand and so I joined in the late 1990s.

For me the values that drew me to Labour still hold dear today- fairness, solidarity and opportunity.

I believe that your success on life should not be determined by who your parents are or where you are born, but by your hard work and the collective support we can provide.

I believe that everyone’s contribution should be valued, that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, and that we have obligations to care for each other.

Those are Labour values and they are enduring, but I believe we must give them a modern, strong and clear voice that connects with the lives of New Zealanders.

I represent a new generation of leadership that can be that voice.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


National Crisis

Posted by on November 8th, 2012

New Zealand’s unemployment rate has now risen to a 13-year high. It last reached these heights in June 1999, when National was last in power.

“This is a national crisis,” as Council of Trade Unions Secretary Peter Conway bluntly describes it. “There are now 175,000 people unemployed, 294,900 jobless and over 113,000 people looking for more hours at work.  This means that we have 400,000 people out of work or looking for more work.”

Despite the spin-doctoring, this is the real story of National’s economic management. After four years in power, John Key is proving to be a disappointment.

In typical black-humour fashion, National MP Todd McClay raised a question in the House this afternoon, asking “what steps is the Government taking to support jobs as part of its programme to build a more productive and competitive economy?”

What steps, indeed… But this National-Act Government does not care about ordinary Kiwis. What they care about is their PR management. And that reminds me of a similar approach by Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross (and my ‘defending the indefensible’ reply) last week in the Howick & Botany Times…

Instead of enjoying the “brighter future” the National-Act Government have promised, more Kiwis are struggling, and going backwards, than ever before.

Job statistics released today make grim reading. Unemployment has increased to 7.3 per cent. In Auckland, unemployment is up from 7.3% to 8.6% – to a total of 65,300 – an increase of 9,900. John Key promised he would create 170,000 new jobs. Instead we have 175,000 people looking for work.

As Peter Conway put it… “These are not just numbers; they are people, and families. They deserve support and the government needs to give urgent attention to the jobs plight

Youth NEETs change since 2008

Posted by on February 26th, 2012
Youth NEETs

Youth NEETs

Despite the foodhardy belief by some that all is well with New Zealand employment under National, if they would just pull their heads out of John Key’s armpits for a second and took seriously that our unemployment rate from Dec 2008 to Dec 2011 has doubled, and these are NOT just numbers but REAL people with families to support, then perhaps they might get a sense of the looming employment crisis that I’m talking about. Take note of the job losses so far announced with MFAT, Air NZ, and a host of other companies that have laid off workers in the last few months.

What should also compoud our collective concern is the increasing numbers of Youth Not in Employment, Education or Training. As of December 2011 they numbered 83,000 as highlighted in the graph above.

Some might be providing homecare to family members but I suspect the vast majority are drifting doing nothing. These are our future leaders – now mostly at risk. Without work, without skills and without the hope for a better future, what will be the chances of them slipping into drugs, alchoholism, crime and benefit dependency? If these trends continue to worsen, what is there to stop it from becoming a ticking time bomb making New Zealand susceptible to the kinds of riots we’ve witnessed on TV occuring in Europe and the likes.

The NZ Institute who released proposals last year of reducing youth disadvantage estimated that the cost of youth unemployment, youth incarceration, youth on the sole parent benefit and taxes forgone, is around $900 million per year. Youth Not in Employment, Education or Training is not only a tragic waste of talent and potential, but we also all carry the cost.

We should also be worried that Maori & Pasefika youth make up a large number of NEETS. While the 6.3% unemployment rate in NZ is worrying, its not at the crisis levels of the PIGS. But the 6.3% unemployment rate hides the fact that for some parts of New Zealand unemployment truly is at crisis levels. I’ve shown int the graph below the figures by HLFS showing 43.3% of Pasifika 15-19 year olds are unemployed. That’s a shocking figure, right up there with the worst youth unemployment rates of Europe.

Pasifika & Maori Youth Unemployment

Pasifika & Maori Youth Unemployment

NZ unemployment increases vs OECD increases

Posted by on February 24th, 2012
NZ % increase in unemployment rate since Dec 2008 vs OECD increase

NZ % increase in unemployment rate since Dec 2008 vs OECD increase

The graph above compares the change in NZ’s unemployment rate since December 2008 to that of other developed countries. It shows that NZ’s unemployment rate has increased at about twice the rate of Europe.

JohnKey claimed that NZ’s unemployment rate is out of his control. He claimed that it’s the economic performance of Europe, Asia and the US that determines job growth in NZ. While there’s no arguing we live in a closely interconnected world and NZ is not immune to global down turns, Mr Key is somewhat passing the buck here.

The Govt can and does have massive influence on our economy and employment rates. For example the PSA reported more than 3500 public service jobs lost in last 3 years, as a result of Govt policy including the so called “capping” of the public sector policy, and with more public service job losses to come – recent announcement of 305 MFAT jobs to go.

The European debt crisis is not the only factor in our high unemployment rate and JohnKey’s govt as the most influential player domestically must take some responsibility.

New Zealand’s actual unemployment rate is still lower than the OECD average but this is because we started in 2009 at a lower rate, not because we haven’t suffered through the recession.

National’s job claims vs reality

Posted by on February 23rd, 2012
National's job claims vs reality

National's job claims vs reality

Even though the Household Labour Force Survey report reveals that John Key’s ‘brighter future’ promise has utterly failed to materialise in terms of jobs for a growing group of New Zealanders, it hasn’t stopped Mr Key claiming it won’t still come true. Yet we know he has no overall plan, no vision for how this will happen. Last year he made the incredible claim that Budget 2011 would create 170,000 jobs over the next 5 years. He continued to make this claim despite not being able to show anything in the Budget that would actually lead to job creation other than low interest rates and ECE funding. Simply managing the economy and ticking off boxes and hoping that market forces will deliver on the jobs is unbelievable. As expected the Govt is on track to once again fall short of its promise. The 2011 Budget documents predicted 36,000 jobs would be created in the year to March 2012. As at Dec 2011 just 10,000 jobs have been created, leaving the Govt to create a massive 26,000 jobs in the final quarter. If JohnKey keeps promising New Zealanders the world but not delivering, his credibility will be on the line, and we all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, don’t we?

Total Employment Change from 2008 Reveals Imminent Crisis

Posted by on February 21st, 2012

Increase in unemployment under National

Increase in unemployment under National

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

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

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

Number of people jobless

Lockouts, layoffs and livelihoods

Posted by on November 23rd, 2011

The lockout of more than 100 workers at ANZCO CMP Meatworks in Marton is now in its second month over the employer’s demand for 20% paycuts and increased workloads. Efforts by the workers’ union to reach a compromise so far have been rejected. The local community, food-banks and workers from around the country, many of whom are already struggling from the impact of cost of living increases,are digging deep to help these workers feed their families. That can’t carry on. Families are hurting, the local economy is suffering and New Zealand’s international reputation is being affected.

Predictably, there’s been silence from the Minister of Labour and John Key in this very serious situation, and they’ve left their hapless and inexperienced Rangitikei candidate to deal with it.

Then there’s the almost daily announcements of lay-offs. Today it’s Milton Woollen Mills. Yesterday, it was Sleepyhead.

The National Party Industrial Relations policy for this election will encourage more of the hard-line tactics being used by ANZCO CMP. They want to give employers the right to veto multi-employer collective agreements, refuse to conclude collective bargaining, and put workers on individual agreements when they start work.

National’s priorities for early legislation, announced today, include cutting pay for young workers and privatising the ACC work account. How sad is that?

The last time a National government tried these race to the bottom ideas, the wage gap with Australia grew enormously, workers lost long-held conditions, low pay became endemic in many important industries and we lost a generation of skilled workers.

John Key insists that he will build a brighter future (actually, I thought he promised that last election).

There’s no brighter future for laid off or locked out workers, or those who only got a 25 cents increase in the minimum wage this year.

Clear choice Saturday.

John’s Ghost Jobs

Posted by on November 2nd, 2011


Always hard with these viral things to know who to acknowledge, but the brilliant Legend drink driving ad has crossed over to the campaign. The National Party welfare announcement as the Herald editorial acknowledges this morning ” needs the jobs first”. It’s not a comprehensive reform. It is shuffling around of names of benefits, work testing the mothers of one year olds- and all without a plan to actually create the jobs that will get people off benefits.

Since 2010 National have been promising there are 170,000 jobs going to be created, but they never come, instead we have an additional 60,000 people on benefits since they took office. Its seems the only jobs out there are John’s ghost jobs.

Another skeleton for Invercargill?

Posted by on September 9th, 2011

Lesley Soper is the Labour candidate for Invercargill

This week it was announced that the Department of Conservation (DOC) is to cut 96 jobs around the country from 4 regional centres.    18 jobs will go from the Invercargill office, leaving only 20 of the 38 existing service positions in place.    All staff in service positions will have to reapply for their jobs.

The cuts follow the National Government 2009 cut to DOC’s Budget of $54million over 4 years, which means there are probably more to come in the next stage of the ‘Review’ for efficiency and effectiveness.

Once again the regions suffer, with Northland; Tongariro/Whanganui/Taranaki; and Nelson/Marlborough also to suffer job cuts.    Valuable locals, contributing to their communities economically and socially, with institutional loyalty, knowledge and years of long service are forced into job scrambles;  onto the dole queue;  overseas; or into short-term and insecure contract work.      The regional economies and communities lose out; real people doing valuable jobs lose out; and DOC is expected  to do more with less.

Southland has a significant amount of conservation land, and DOC protects places and species that Southlanders value.   Jobs to go include science, technical, communications, planning and legal, but for the present no ranger positions.   So jobs that allow good conservation outcomes to be achieved and rangers to be rangers go.   Cut to the bone and only the skeleton remains.

Is 19 or 20 the new preferred size du jour for public service Regional offices?      How long before ‘efficiences of scale’  mean the size du jour is in single figures?

Again, local public service cuts that no-one can feel comfortable about.   Silence from local National MP’s on any reasons why.

Abandoning the Provinces (again)

Posted by on September 9th, 2011

The National led government released its latest public service staff statistics yesterday. They show that they have overseen almost 2,400 Kiwis losing their jobs since 2008. That is thousands of families with people who make the money to put food on the table out of work. Things really are starting to follow the 1990s pattern- the gutting of the public sector, followed by the decline in services and confidence from the public, followed by the hiring of consultants and contractors to fill the gaps…

The figures announced today do not cover the full impact most recent jobs losses announced for DOC and the IRD. In both cases its not the people I look after in Wellington Central bearing the brunt, it is the provinces. Wanganui, Rotorua, Napier, Invercargill, Nelson, New Plymouth. Did someone say “frontline services”.

Two stories related to this came my way today. The first from the Daily News in New Plymouth who quoted one of the staff saying that they had been warned that if they talked publicly about the job losses they would go even quicker.

“They told us there was to be absolutely no discussion of anything to the media. If anyone spoke to the media it could be a code of conduct issue,” an employee told the Taranaki Daily News on condition of anonymity. Penalties for breaching the code of conduct could include being sacked, they said.

The worker also said something that will be familiar to many in the public service. He said “morale was in tatters”. It is, in almost every government agency I speak to- and the end result of that is poorer services for us all.

Meanwhile over in Whanganui they are facing the effect of the cuts to the Department of Conservation, the latest in a line of cuts including to NZTA, child advocacy services and the baliffs. I got a note passed on to me from a local teacher who said

I feel awful today as I hear from children I teach that their their families will be shifting out of Wanganui because of the cutbacks and the gutting of the local DOC office.which once served the region from Taranaki to the Manawatu and over the Ruahines. Going are the scientists, an engineer, cartographers and other skilled workers whose children have been really special to teach.

This is one aspect of the abandoning of provinicial New Zealand, the breakdown of communities. Another is the loss of health services in places like Temuka and Rangiora. John Pagani has written a good blog on another aspect of it. The absence of any real focused regional development from this government that will give people a sense that there are jobs and a future for them and their town. I think we owe these towns that have been the backbone of our country some support and some hope.

Let’s back jobs for young Kiwis

Posted by on September 2nd, 2011

Yesterday Labour launched our Youth Skills policy. Jacinda did an excellent post on the details just after it went public. If you live in Wellington and missed it in the DomPost this morning, look again. You’ll see all the salient details comprehensively covered in the news brief below and to the left of the quarter page article and photo espousing John Key’s babysitting and travel companion potential.

There is a certain symmetry to Labour launching a policy to get young Kiwis into work on the same day the National government signed off on a deal to buy a bunch of new electric trains for Auckland from overseas, rather than build them locally here in New Zealand. I think it’s great that Auckland are getting much needed investment in their public transport infrastructure, but why aren’t we cashing in the potential to create somewhere around 1,000 new jobs and add up to $250 million to our GDP?

The link between these two announcements actually runs a lot deeper than highlighting the contrast between Labour, who want to create local jobs, and National, who want to export them overseas. When I speak to a lot of the tradespeople in my electorate, I’m reminded just how many of them did their apprenticeships at the railway workshops, the post office, the car assembly plants, or the freezing works. With the exception of the railway workshops, that now employs a fraction of the staff it once did, all of those big employers are gone.

Those tradespeople are now sole traders or work largely in firms that employ fewer than 10 people. Taking on an apprentice is something they’re more than happy to do. They learned their trade on the job and they’re more than happy to give future generations the same chance. But it’s a huge commitment financially and a lot to ask of such small businesses. That’s why I know they’ll welcome Labour’s plan to convert the dole into apprenticeships subsidies.

A lot of people have remarked to me in the past how crazy it is we pay a young person to sit at home on the dole but we won’t provide some financial support to those willing to take them on and train them up. Well Labour is going to do something about that. Our Youth Skills policy is one that I’m very proud to campaign on. Our plan to get thousands of young Kiwis into work, education and training is in marked contrast to National’s plan to give a couple of hundred young beneficiaries a pre-pay purchase card.

So while baby-sitter John devotes his time to worrying about how young people spend their pocket money, Labour is focused on providing them with a meaningful vocation and hope for the future. Oh, what was that about nanny state again…?

Another Key con: or pretending to do something when you really aren’t

Posted by on August 28th, 2011

Lesley Soper is the Labour candidate for Invercargill

Read with fascination the Southland Times Report (Aug 15, p.2) on John Key’s  great National Party Conference announcement of the start of welfare system overhaul.   16 & 17 year-olds first it seems.      They won’t complain too much, and rednecks will think they deserve a bit of ‘nanny state’ overseeing.    Food Stamps don’t equal opportunity or jobs BUT IT WILL LOOK AS IF WE ARE DOING SOMETHING, WHICH WILL HELP DISGUISE OUR UTTER FAILURE TO DO ANYTHING TO DEAL WITH THE WORSE NZ YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

Food Stamps can also be the thin edge of the wedge, & extended to others when we ‘have a Mandate’.

Under this new Policy schools will have to tell authorities when 16 and 17 year-olds leave during the year, and the young people  will be attached to a “responsible adult”.

Quotes from the PM included :  “the first problem that has to be addressed is finding out who the disengaged young people are … we simply don’t know, because we lose track of them when they leave school. … that has to change … and for the first time we will be able to find out who they are, what their circumstances are, what problems they had …”.

But Wait!   The photographic memory clicks in from my years as an MP.   This has to be nonsense.    Didn’t I make more than one visit to a great Youth Transition Service ‘Work’n it Out’ which operates a Call Centre and extended services from Invercargill  [readers will know from my earlier blog on proposed IRD cuts in Invercargill that we run excellent ‘virtual’ operations down here];  and operates under an MSD Contract?     Yes, I did, and it still exists.     Been operating for more than 5 years.     Reports performance and outcomes to MSD every month.   You can look it up online at   The Social Development Minister & PM could read the reports.   They probably have, but perhaps have ‘forgotten’.

What does this service do?   [and what has it been doing for more than 5 years?]   Well, strangely enough it has been working with 50 Secondary Schools from Timaru South to track every school-leaver at any point through the year, from  ages 16-20.  There are also some self or family referrals, and referrals from other govt departments, but by & large this is a major project to track and assist school-leavers with the rest of their lives.   And it has been working incredibly well!

We are not talking small numbers here.   This is thousands of young people added to the database every year.    They are systematically contacted by the callcentre; they are asked about their plans for further education, training or employment.   They are offered support and assistance, often on a one-to-one customised support basis.  They are tracked from that first call or contact on a regular basis till age 20.     Few of them are non-contactable; very few reject the contact.

Report Data is comprehensive.    We know who these young people are; where they have come from; where they have gone or are going; which industries they are working in; how many are in which other forms of education and training courses; how many return to school; how many head into apprenticeships, full-or-part-time work.

So if this is all already happening, on a large scale, covering quarter of the country geographically [& there are other Youth Transition Services too], and in areas where there are National MP’s [including English, Roy &  Dean], and data exists;  why the announcement of a  ‘First Ever New Policy’;  ‘Never Before Tried’ ; ‘Revolutionary First’ as a  ‘Key Plank’ of the National Party Conference?

Could it be that some Political Spin was required to distract from the failure of the National Government to actually address Youth Unemployment and to create jobs?   Could it be a ‘Key Con’ to pretend to be doing something to distract from actual cuts National has made to apprenticeships and skills training?   Could it be a ‘Big Vision’ like ‘The Cycleway’ or the Budget ‘promise’ of 170,000 jobs  –  with absolutely no substance?    Could it be sheer ignorance of what is already in place?    Or could it be that no-one in Auckland pays any attention to successful initiatives in  Invercargill unless they involve Shadbolt or snow?     Take your pick.

Another ‘Key Con’ when what is really needed is a real economic plan that means young people get real jobs.   Remember the statistic  –  when National came in there were roughly 200 under 24 year-olds who had been on UEB for more than a year.   The number now?

John Key and that stadium shot

Posted by on August 19th, 2011

Remember that video clip of John Key standing in the Westpac Stadium in Wellington before the last election lamenting the number of New Zealanders who leave every year to move to Australia? Well, he’d need a bigger stadium for this year’s campaign video.

After 3 years of John Key’s government, the number of people leaving NZ to move to Australia is at its highest level in 10 years. 46,436 people jumped the Tasman for good in the 12 months to July. By contrast, only 14,807 made the jump back the other way.

Remember what John Key said in his 2008 campaign opening speech?

“Do you want more of the same? The same directionless economy? The same political games and distractions? The same loose management of your money? The same excuses, buck-passing, and the same failure to deliver real results?”

Let’s compare the 9 years of Labour government with 3 years under National. Under Labour we had record low unemployment, more people in the workforce than ever before, more people in tertiary education than ever before. Under National unemployment has sky rocketed and tertiary education funding has been slashed.

As for political games and distractions? This from a PM who walked out of Question Time to avoid answering questions from the Leader of the Opposition. The same PM who backed Rodney Hide, then Don Brash, and has now done a dodgy deal with John Banks in Epsom. The same PM who paid PR firms to get him on Letterman. The same PM who won’t be interviewed on Morning Report but will happily take patsy questions on The Edge…

But of course the state of the economy isn’t National’s fault. Their failure to deliver any meaningful financial relief to those on middle and low incomes isn’t their fault. Youth unemployment isn’t their fault (and in less than a week it’s gone from being John Key’s biggest issue to being a problem that’s ‘overstated’). Now, what was that about “buck-passing”?

Tell it to the Hillside workers

Posted by on July 31st, 2011

A extraordinary story in today’s Sunday Star Times said that despite the ongoing job losses being faced by so many New Zealanders;

the nation remains positive and laid-off Kiwis don’t blame government, with National seen as coping in tough times.

Rising unemployment has not hurt Prime Minister John Key in the polls, and even those sent to the dole queue are unwilling to blame the National government for their woes.

I think if the SST had made it as far as Dunedin, they would have found a different set of views.

The 44 Hillside workers made redundant 10 days ago know whose policies have left them on the dole. Left Dunedin without skilled labour. Is destroying a valuable industry.

And I reckon if the SST had dug a bit deeper they’d find plenty of people throughout New Zealand who are pretty clear that it’s the National Government’s policies that have left them without jobs, without the ability to put food on the table.

Without a future.

Labour wouldn’t let that happen.

the leader of the national party sends even more kiwi jobs to China

Posted by on June 24th, 2011

Very interesting that the leader of the national party and Steven Joyce have left it to a Chinese website to announce that they have on our behalf purchased another 20 locomotives that should have been built at Hillside and Woburn. No tender. And the first 20 over a year late from the same Chinese source.

Maybe it was because Kiwirail were at the same time firing staff in Dunedin and the Hutt Valley.

Because it is Kiwirail not Chinarail it is time the economic benefits of these purchases (jobs created, skills developed, tax paid, benefits avoided) rather than just the accounting costs are taken into account.

KIWIRAIL Purchase Additional 20 sets of “MADE IN CHINA CNR” Diesel-electric Locomotives
On June 2, CNR Import & Export Corp. Ltd of CHINA CNR Corp. Ltd. Singed another contract for 20 diesel-electric locomotives with KIWIRAIL New Zealand. The partner PPD company in New Zealand of CNR Import & Export Corp. Ltd has been strongly supporting this contract. This is KIWIRAIL to the CNR purchase after first 20 locomotives in 2009.

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

Posted by on June 17th, 2011

Budget FAQ #6: Why the Deficit Hole?

Posted by on May 19th, 2011

Our Labour team wanted to understand why every year under National the budget deficit has far exceeded the forecast when they took office. In the graph below, the black line is the projection of the deficit made in December 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis. But you can see the actual deficits have been much larger.

Debt Composition 2008-2011

Part of this is due to National’s tax cuts, even accepting the rosy predictions English made about the cost of his tax packages, they still cost a significant amount (green blocks). This year the deficit has been worsened by one-off events in the form of the Christchurch earthquake and the South Canterbury Finance bailout (brown and purple blocks). But there’s still a huge difference between the 2008 projections and what happened that isn’t accounted for by the one-offs or the borrowing for tax cuts. What’s behind that?

When we look at the GDP growth forecasts vs reality for the same period, the answer becomes clear. Every year, National has projected that a return to strong growth is just around the corner which will mean more tax take, lower benefit costs  – and a smaller deficit. But it hasn’t eventuated. Instead, the economy has stagnated under National and every year National has evened up having to slap billions more on the taxpayers’ bill to cover for this economic underperformance (blue block).

 No doubt today’s budget will also contain rosy growth projections. Will the reality end up being more deficit blowouts?

What’s David Farrar going to say next?

Posted by on February 17th, 2011

Just read his post on Kiwiblog on why people go to foodbanks. These are the people that John Key says make poor choices. Looks like Farrar agrees with Key. I just posted on this below.

Well mate, try going along to one of these foodbanks. And see for yourself who’s turning up. People in real need who are embarassed, who have been shoved out the door by Work and Income and refused help.

This is what my office was told this morning by one of these foodbanks:

… referred to the “new poor” and noted that they are not as resilient as those who have been poor on a long term basis. Their distress is high. She said that last week she was dealing with a former staff member from a govt department.

Farrar believes people who use foodbanks fall into one of three categories:

  1. Those whose expenses regularly exceed their income – which probably does indicate a budget prioritisation issue
  2. Those who have a temporary one off high priority expense, such as medical bills (note special need grants are also available)
  3. Those who prefer free food to paying for food

What rubbish. Talk about out of touch. And yes, I’m pretty cross.

What’s he going to say next?

Posted by on February 17th, 2011

I’ve been saying for two years that this government specialises in rhetoric vs reality. Arguing that black is white. Pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Fudging it. However you want to describe it.

John Key is the master of Orwellian language. He gets away with it mostly, but won’t forever.

He and his Ministers consistently argue that the “global recession” is responsible for unemployment and more people living on benefits.

According to his narrative, his government has nothing to do with it. But every now and then his underlying belief system seeps out.

Yesterday he outdid himself by saying in parliament  in response to a question from Annette King that beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.

In other words it’s their own fault that they’re poor. And in need of help.

My office in Dunedin rang around the foodbanks this morning and was told that they are seeing an increase in referrals from WINZ.

The letters that the clients bring from WINZ indicate that they have been declined assistance on the basis that they cannot produce a family budget and the implication is that the organisation will assist with both the immediate food needs and the budget.

It’s not new for people to be referred to these organisations from WINZ. What is new though is the increase in referrals and the denial of assistance on the basis of not being able to produce a family budget. And the pressure being put on the social service agencies who themselves are struggling to cope with demand and having their own funding sources starved.

Many of these people are what’s being described as the “new poor”. People who have been made redundant, can’t find new work and are not coping.

John Key is totally out of touch.  What’s he going to say next?