Written By: - Date published: 8:11 am, November 3rd, 2013 - 81 comments
Categories: broadcasting, class war, cost of living, david cunliffe, democracy under attack, economy, housing, labour, telecommunications - Tags: inequalities
Two news items in this morning’s NZ Herald online cause me to feel despair for the current state of New Zealand after a couple of decades of “neoliberalism”. People can debate some of the detail with respect to the policy direction indicated in Cunliffe’s speech yesterday, and as to whether we need a NEW, fair and inclusive direction or the resurrection of an OLD one. However, Cunliffe outlines the problem here:
A Tale of two countries I grew up in a New Zealand where if you worked hard and played by the rules anyone could get ahead.
It was a country in which Kiwis could trust that government worked more or less in the interests of all its citizens.
Sadly, those days are gone.
We are confronted by a government clearly ruling in the interests of a few at the expense of the many, and creating two New Zealands.
One for the rich and powerful, who don’t pay their fair share of tax because they have smart accountants to ensure they avoid it.
And there’s the other New Zealand. Where people struggle to put food on the table for their families.
Where children go to school hungry, and senior citizens shiver in their homes.
Families who pay tax on every dollar they earn, pick up the slack for the mega-rich and the foreign corporations who don’t.
Middle New Zealand is working harder than ever.
Two NZ Herald articles indicate where NZ has sadly gone wrong. Now more than ever we need a state run/supported truly public TV broadcaster linked to online delivery. We need the kind of mainstream media that enables democracy to thrive, as Nicky Hagar explained in his Jesson Lecture. It requires a media in which jouranlists speak truth to power and operate for the “public interest” and not the in the interest of the powerful, the lobbyists for the wealthy corporates.
Yet today an NZ Herald article shows that our ailing state supported TV broadcaster has become one dominated by the wealthy side of a socio-economically fractured nation.
State broadcaster’s six-figure salaries sign of ‘an excessive organisation’, say Greens
Nearly a quarter of TVNZ’s staff were paid six-figure salaries last year.
The state broadcaster’s figures show 226 of 940 full-time employees at the state broadcaster were paid more than $100,000 in the year to June.
Top of the list is believed to be chief executive Kevin Kenrick, on between $720,000 and $730,000.
Twenty-four employees were paid $200,000 or more.
Green Party broadcasting spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said TVNZ was paying “excessively” high salaries when the public sector should be trying to curb pay inequality.
“They’re seemingly becoming quite an excessive organisation with a huge number of highly paid staff at a time when a lot of New Zealanders are struggling.”
TVNZ’s 2012/13 annual report also reveals it paid more than $4 million in redundancies and to settle employment disputes – the highest figure in five years.
The second Herald article waxes lyrical about some recent NZ imports, living the high life in Auckland. The tome of the article is about how great it is to have such a glamorous elite now part of our biggest city, giving it a cosmopolitan shine. But the unspoken downside is that these are some of the very people pushing up the price of homes: homes that Kiwis struggling on relatively low incomes are increasingly unable to afford to buy or rent.
Never mind Lonely Planet ranking Auckland one of the world’s top 10 towns for backpackers — international analysis this year shows the city joining the ranks of the world’s most desirable cities for the uber-rich. Over a glass or two of Veuve Clicquot while enjoying the view over Rangitoto, a couple of millionaires tell us why
Houses with sea views sell for $10 million – and there’s a waiting list to buy them. Gleaming superyachts wait at the wharf while their owners sun themselves at beach houses on private islands.
At restaurants, well-heeled couples don’t blink at dropping half a grand on dinner. And not far from a string of shops where handbags retail for thousands of dollars, a woman recently walked out the door of a high-street retail jeweller with a white diamond dress ring sporting a price tag of $72,690.
Over the past year, Auckland’s high-end property prices have increased 12.7 per cent, the seventh-fastest rate in the world.
Auckland’s overall property prices are now in the top 50 in the world, putting the city in the same realm as global centres such as London, Manhattan, Sydney and resort getaways including the British Virgin Islands, St Jean Cap Ferrat and Monaco.
But what you get for your money in Auckland is still attractive by international standards.
He [Real estate agent Michael Boulgaris says] says there is always a waiting list of buyers for top-level homes.
Privacy is paramount for the very wealthy, he says, followed by a sea view. “I looked at a house that was $7 million or $8 million the other day and you could stand in the main bedroom and touch the neighbour. Space and privacy are what are important.”
Charlie Brendon-Cook, of Luxury Real Estate, says some super rich are broadening their sights beyond Auckland, looking for that privacy.
Cunliffe is tipped to include something about housing in his Conference speech today. I will be looking for something that is most likely to work for those struggling on the lowest income. And an increase in safe, and secure state housing needs to be part of such an agenda.