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The Standard

Less (inequality) is more….

Written By: - Date published: 7:19 pm, January 25th, 2014 - 39 comments
Categories: capitalism, child welfare, class, crime, david cunliffe, democratic participation, education, election 2014, equality, health, john key, Metiria Turei, poverty, sustainability, workers' rights - Tags: ,

.….. more equality is  better for everyone.

 

With John Key misleadingly trying to deny the significance of the inequality gap,

and David Farrar falsely claiming that poverty doesn’t have a profound impact on education,

it looks like this is likely to be an important election issue.  Time to revisit the Spirit Level.    Back in 2010, Standard author Bunji posted a series of 6 “Digested reads” on the book, The Spirit Level: why equality is better for everyone, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (2009).

1: The Problem:

Poverty profoundly damages lives. Adding to that high levels of inequality bring stresses that are bad for all of us.  In a hierarchical and overly competitive society we all suffer. Poverty results in poor health and this impacts on all areas of life. On top of that the stresses of inequality can be overwhelming. Bunji wrote:

The Spirit Level authors believe income inequality is largely important as it is our current way of measuring hierarchy in society.  Other forms of inequality are probably important too, but income is where the data and evidence is, and it is the way society currently values people.  A certain level of wealth is required

But, for everyone, even with a reasonable income, the stress of competition and “keeping up with the Joneses” takes its toll.

Having less than those next to us makes us anxious and stressed.  It affects our self-esteem.  We become self-promoting and insecure, as we are constantly in a race and scared of being found out as not as important (ie wealthy) as we make out to be.  We have less time to make and keep friends as we spend all our time trying to earn and spend our wealth to maintain our place.

In a more equal society the race isn’t so all-consuming, we have more friends, more trust, more community and more happiness.  But no less wealth.  He who has most toys doesn’t win, he just makes sure others lose out more.

Bunji followed this post with others elaborating on this main point:

2.  Inequality is bad for everyone’s health.

3.  Equality breeds trust; inequality breeds crime. (Or: Do you want to be a bonobo or a chimp?).

4. Equality: better education and social mobility. Inequality: more teen pregnancies.

5. Equality works better for a sustainable future.

Bunji explained it thus:

Equality does not equal sustainability, but it is much more suited to the task than our current system.  Without the constant need to consume more and more as we compete for status, we use up far less of the earth’s resources.

There is a strong link between inequality and consumerism.  Everything from advertising (NZ & USA spend twice as much on advertising as a percentage of GDP compared to Norway & Denmark) to working hours (there is a strong trend between average hours worked to how disparate middle and upper incomes are) reflects this.

[…]

But that is not sustainable.  Even if we develop better technologies, giving us, for example, more fuel efficient cars – we’d save money, and then spend it on more goods that consume more of the planet…

6. What we can do to embrace equality – through society and government.

Bunji concludes:

It won’t take a revolution to achieve greater equality… but it will take a transformation, with a sustained sense of direction and a strong view as to how to achieve the required changes.  […]

The fact that results of so many studies show better results for the rich as well as the poor in more equal societies definitely helps that goal.  Societies do better with a more income-equal framework, but also individuals do too.  The gifted get more chance to shine, not less, in a more equal society.  Equality does not mean we all become the same.

Bunji then goes on the discuss the above in detail, and provides some examples of ways to bring about a more sustainable and livable society.  Some of the ideas amount to more democratic processes, with more cooperative activities and more employee stakes in business enterprises.

It will be interesting to see the extent to which inequalities are addressed in the 2 State of the Nation addresses in the next couple of days:

Turei children

Metiria Turei at Picnic for the Planet: January 26, 2014 – 11:00am – 3:00pm – Waitangi Park, Wellington

Cunliffe Labour save our future

David Cunliffe – A Nation of Opportunity: Monday, 27 January 2014 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM – Kelston Girls’ College Auditorium, Corner Great North Road and Archibald Road, Kelston, West Auckland.

39 comments on “Less (inequality) is more….”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Re-read “The Spirit Level” recently, still a most persuasive work. In a New Zealand context until there is justice in all respects for colonised Māori descendants the negative experiences of that group drags everyone down. Not that racists will admit that.

    More patents are issued in more equal countries so thinking is likely improved not dumbed down. Equal does not mean the same indeed.

    Made me laugh in light of the “Left is dead” discussion in recent days that Cuba was the only country at time of TSL’s publication that met all the criteria for a sustainable economy combined with acceptable living standards using the UN Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint per Capita.

    • karol 1.1

      ntil there is justice in all respects for colonised Māori descendants the negative experiences of that group drags everyone down. Not that racists will admit that.

      Yes, and I noticed that the impacts of “other” inequalities, as explained by Bunji, are also likely to be damaging: eg those of ‘race’, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.

      But income inequalities are easier to measure.

      I did edit down one point of Bunji’s that I wasn’t keen on. He said in post #1:

      A certain level of wealth is required but in the wealthiest 50 nations virtually everyone has access to that.

      I do think there are a significant number of people in NZ, on the lowest incomes, who do not have that “certain level of wealth”. People who cannot afford sufficient, nutritious​ food and/or healthy and safe accomodation.

      They are obviously a relative minority, and their plight is not a great vote winner these days. But I do think we need to acknowledge their existence and their urgent needs.

      I didn’t want to take up space in the post debating that, but, I think many TS posts have/do argue for their needs.

      • Olwyn 1.1.1

        In response to both the quote of Bunji’s that you disagreed with and your answer to it, I think that poverty in a developed country takes its own special form. To begin with, the assumption that almost everyone has access to “a certain level of wealth” results in an expensive way of life – even at the most basic level. When you lack the income to meet its demands, your hardship is less visible than the third world variety, but is still very real hardship.

        • Indeed. A lot of the worst effects of poverty in New Zealand are caused by people trying to live like they’re not in poverty in terms of their luxuries, but shooting themselves in the foot by not paying attention to their real priorities. I don’t blame those people, it’s easy enough to understand, and a lot of the things that get decried as pure luxury by the Right are actually just lower-priority necessities to participate in New Zealand society as full citizens. (eg. cell phones, televisions, etc…)

          That’s not to say there aren’t a lot who just couldn’t feed their families on their incomes no matter what they do, but the number of people who have the symptoms of poverty aren’t the same as the number of people who have sufficient income to live a life without experiencing poverty.

          • Olwyn 1.1.1.1.1

            There is more to it than that. The actual necessities for life in a developed country are very expensive, and alternatives are not easily attained. Rent, power, travel costs and the dreaded water bill eat up a large portion of a small income, and food becomes the variable. It is very hard to do without the things listed in the kind of society we live in.

    • RedLogix 1.2

      In a New Zealand context until there is justice in all respects for colonised Māori descendants the negative experiences of that group drags everyone down. Not that racists will admit that.

      Umm – yes. Been good to get away from it all for a while this last year. It’s not until you hop out of the pot do you realise quite how hot it’s gotten.

      UN Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint per Capita

      Yes a rather remarkable intersection. Not too many people willing to think through all the implications of this fact.

    • karol 1.3

      What is TSL?

      • saarbo 1.3.1

        The Spirit Level

        damn TLA’s

      • Tiger Mountain 1.3.2

        The Spirit Level

        • karol 1.3.2.1

          :) Thanks.

          • fisiani 1.3.2.1.1

            Please keep banging away with the delusions of The Spirit Level which has been thoroughly debunked http://spiritleveldelusion.blogspot.co.nz

            • joe90 1.3.2.1.1.1

              Debunked by the tobacco industry’s galtian fuckwit, too funny.

              http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/Christopher_Snowdon

              • fisiani

                Instead of attacking the author try reading. No one with a brain accepts the erroneous findings of The Spirit Level any more. That is why none in Parliament mentions it.It’s an embarrassment to the Left.

                • RedLogix

                  So exactly what is Snowden arguing?

                  1. That a world in which 85 people have more net worth than the bottom 3.5 billion people is actually not all that unequal?

                  2. Or that somehow this level of inequality is good for the world, and perhaps it would be better if the level of inequality was even higher? Maybe all the ills of the world would be solved if just one person owned everything?

                  3. Or that the level of inequality just does not matter? In which case why do you care?

                • gem

                  Our parliamentarians may not have read it, which is why they don’t, and as far as I know, never seriously raised it in Parliament or in the media.
                  The authors responded to their critics’ claims, and it seems those trying to disprove the thesis cherry-picked their own stats to suit their agenda.
                  The Spirit Level documentary is coming out later this year, which will I’m sure deal with those claims.

                  • karol

                    David Cunliffe has definitely read The Spirit Level. He mentioned it, for instance in the House in 2011.

                    As Wilkinson and Pickett in The Spirit Level pointed out, we are all in this together. When we share the gains and share the pain we are all better off than if we have a society of haves and have-nots, where a few at the top do better and better and most in the middle and the bottom do worse. It is not sufficient to rely on a relationship with a few well-placed mates—the Mark Weldons, the Rob Fyfes, the Fonterras, the Telecoms, and the MediaWorks of the world—to fill the gap, because it does not make the difference.

                    But it is more common for MPs to refer to recent NZ studies in the House. They have mentioned the increase in inequality in NZ a lot.

                    And Green MPs have referred to Rashbrooke’s book on the inequality crisis in NZ.

                    David Clendon, July 2013:

                    Some members may have seen a presentation earlier this evening on a new book, edited by Max Rashbrooke, that has been published recently called Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis . Chapter after chapter describes how across the board in society in all sorts of sectors and all sorts of ways that inequality gap is opening up in New Zealand. And now we are seeing unequal access to justice, and that is simply unacceptable in a modern, liberal democracy.

                    David Cunliffe mentioned The Spirit Level when he was doing a live commentary on Question Time, for The Daily Blog: – June 2013:

                    2:08 PM Martyn Bradbury: It’s not easy to hide the inequality that is tearing the egalitarian dream to bits, but Joyce does a pretty good job of it

                    2:09 PM David Cunliffe: JOyce puts down economists Hichkey and Oram… Parker questions whether OECD believes income inequality high in NZ… and getting worse …Joyce pressured, says it is about growing jobs …

                    2:09 PM David Cunliffe: Methinks Mr Joyce should read The Spirit Level

                • karol

                  I reckon Bryan Bruce, doco maker has a pretty good brain. He mentioned The Spirit Level in relation to his doco, “Mind the Gap”, which aired on TV3 last year. TV3 Reports:

                  In Bryan Bruce’s Mind the Gap, which screens on TV3 tonight, a number of the world’s leading economists say the trickle-down theory – which argues that to increase the lot of the poor, the rich have to get richer – is a fallacy.

                  “Every top economist I spoke to [said trickle-down economics] doesn’t work,” Mr Bruce said on Firstline this morning. “Ordinary people know it hasn’t worked.”
                  One of those economists, Prof Robert Wade of the London School of Economics, tells Mr Bruce there has instead been a “trickle-up” of wealth, from the poor to the rich.[…]

                  “You have less violence, less drug addiction, all those things. Prof Richard Wilkinson is one of the people I speak to – he wrote a book called The Spirit Level, and it shows all of these correlations between having a more equal society and a better life for all of us. It’s much better if we share.”

                  2 profs with better brains than many MPs.

                  • gem

                    Yes, Bruce’s doco was excellent. I watched it with two other people, and for one of them it was quite a revelation. This surprised me at the time, but we forget that many people aren’t exposed to these ideas. What I haven’t heard Labour/Cunliffe do is clearly explain the Spirit Level premise, i.e, that when we are equal we ALL do better in a whole raft of ways. Yes, Labour bemoans inequality, frequently; but it’s not just about lifting those at the bottom up to ”our” level, it’s the fact that the most equal societies are more successful all round.
                    If they are telling it, and I stand to be corrected if I’ve missed it, they aren’t doing a great job. Just bemoaning the state of affairs isn’t enough.
                    Appeal to Kiwi pragmatism that it actually makes sense, because it does.

            • Plan B 1.3.2.1.1.2

              I do not think you are correct in any way in making this remark. I read comments on the blog you mention and… nothing has changed, the book and the ideas behind it have not been debunked. Why would you say they have?

              http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/authors-respond-questions-about-spirit-levels-analysis

    • Draco T Bastard 1.4

      More patents are issued in more equal countries so thinking is likely improved not dumbed down.

      That may have something to do with it but, IMO, a lot has to do with the fact that the people having ideas a) don’t come forward with them because they know they’ll get ripped off and/or b) don’t have enough resources to develop their ideas themselves.

      As an example of a) the person who developed industrial diamonds did so in his spare time but he used [large companies] facilities to do it. Once he was completed the company took all the credit and the profit and gave him a $10 gift voucher.

      Another example was a contract I had where the IP clause in it stated that any ideas I had to do with the industry belonged to the company. There was no mention of extra compensation.

      There’s probably more problems of that sort of ripoff going around as well. It’s what happens when you cater to the greedy – the people at the bottom realise that they’re getting ripped off and stop. It’s not that they’re lazy, it’s that they’re sick of working hard and seeing other people benefit from it but not them.

      • Xtasy 1.4.1

        It is scientifically proven that FEAR and STRESS kill brain cells. So the neo liberal “Natzis” that love to instill the fear into every working and especially non-working person, they are doing endless damage to the health of uncountable persons. This will prove to be very costly for future generations, having to foot the health costs for treating the damaged.

        Only later generations will have to cover for that, the health costs, that will come as a result of draconian welfare reforms, of unjust, harsh working conditions and the like.

        http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2555601/living-poverty-effect-brain-constantly-pulling-nighters/

        http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976

        It is time the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) and Royal Australasian College of Physicians, same as local NZ science institutions accept and acknowledge this, not the crap of some NAZI like Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt, working for MSD and WINZ, or Mansel Aylward, present us, that “worklessness” is the problem.

        It is inequality and poverty that do the damage, and work may be good for some, may be ok for others, but it is rather a healthy, balanced, fair and decent life and society that delivers the best health outcomes, independent from paid work, voluntary work or anything else so conditional as this present NZ government wants to indoctrinate us with.

        Where are the “Down Under” scientists opening up for real, fact based, balanced and fair science? Or are they all on the payroll of UNUM and the likes?

        http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-controversial-bio-psycho-social-model/

        http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

        P.S.: Don’t know why this ended up under Draco’s comment, but I may have clicked the wrong template or what. Anyway, it is not so much about what Draco mentioned, but I hope it makes sense. Good night all!

        • Johnm 1.4.1.1

          Xtasy
          If you beat a person with the stick of poverty and hopelessness long enough and the inequality of contempt and powerlessness most may never get up again and indeed an underclass of the hopeless is truly created. Then continue demonising them through the media and idiot bigot jocks like Laws on Radio Live and you get a fascist circus of wretchedness of spirit both with the haves and the havenots. Also a predator class of get rich by capital gain landlords feeds off the poor and their meagre welfare benefits by supplying run down accommodation which is damp and mouldy and cold enter illness and depression. Then the hospital visits and incapacity, and the draconian response and homelessness and begging and deaths from exposure.

          A society that advances in a unified way without destructive inequality is the pattern for success where parasitical elements who prey on their fellow citizens are controlled.

  2. gem 2

    Good post. To counter the right this election, the emphasis should be the fact we have to have big government to deal with the social problems wrought by inequality/free markets/structural unemployment. This could act as a sort of triangulation against the right’s spin that big government is the province of the left. National is fond of telling us it is spending record amounts on welfare/health; turn it around on them.
    I can’t find the passage in TSL I wanted to quote on this point, but this is similar:
    ”If you fail to avoid high inequality, you will need more prisons and more police. You will have to deal with higher rates of mental illness, drug abuse and every other kind of problem. If keeping taxes and benefits down leads to wider income differences, the need to deal with the ensuing social ills may force you to raise public expenditure to cope.” (page. 246)

  3. Whateva next? 3

    …..but how to get the message to the great undecideds??

  4. James Thrace 4

    Max Rashbrooke’s book is a fantastic read.

    Particularly where he outlines that the shift has moved away from seeing the family as a social unit towards the family being seen as expendable units of labour and consumerism in an industrialised capitalist complex rather than as a community driven unit.

    It really does grasp the bare roots of the problem in NZ in that it has become all about Me, Myself and I.

    Thatchers claim that there is no such thing as Society was taken a bit too far. I posit that in NZ there is no such thing as an individual without Society.

    Society breeds the individuals we have. It does more to explain the various natures abundant in NZ and the lack of rational behaviour exhibited by certain members of the community towards the need to assist those around them, and only assisting themselves.

    The Spirit Level has no doubt opened the door for a lot of people into understanding and beginning to grasp the inherent ‘wrongness’ of one CEO being paid $4M a year while the backs of the workers upon which said CEO is paid exorbitant rates, are valued at little more than $45,000 per year.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to see this conciousness seep through into more than two of our political parties. Green and Te Mana both understand this. I wait with bated breath for Labour to finally understand that there is a need to introduce salary capping, or even bring in higher taxes for those most able to afford them, such as the aforementioned CEO.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      In the 1950’s and 1960’s the USA used income tax rates as high as 91% to effectively limit top salaries.

    • gem 4.2

      Labour is weak-willed and out of touch on CEO pay and tax. It will be interesting to see what’s in tomorrow’s speech, but Parker in the Listener this month said he wanted top personal rate of tax would be 39% (on incomes over $150k), and no change to the business rate. I think that’s the same as the 2011 manifesto.
      In Britain, Labour has just announced it will reinstate the 50p rate on personal income over £150k (it is 45p at the moment).
      And why isn’t Labour talking about a financial transactions tax? This could solve the dilemma of taxing overseas purchases. OK it’s not without its issues, but surely worth exploring.
      Did Labour MPs use their Opposition downtime constructively to seek out some new ideas?

      • greywarbler 4.2.1

        FTT – Tobin tax? A small one – is it less than 1% usually suggested – on each deal, then a lesser GST tax, suggest 10%. That would go a long way to achieving better tax takes, and it is really not fair to tax over 48% at the highest.

        And let’s have inheritance tax and Capital Gains Tax and Stamp Duty and those useful taxes that took money off those receiving dosh often on inflated profits as on property. Always wanting less tax and very simple tax is a twisted way for the wealthy who are anything but simple, to act when it comes to taxes.

        Complicated taxes to the rich are merely like cryptic crosswords, lots of people can handle them easily. For those that can’t there are people you employ to find ways round them and it creates a nice area of financial management that keeps semi-criminals happy. Meanwhile most people would be paying sufficient tax to run the country yet enable them to have a hefty whack left for themselves.

        By the way I was reading a 2005 Listener and it referred to certain people in the lower South
        Island as being the Tartan Mafia. Who are they?

        • gem 4.2.1.1

          Yes, FTT is also known as Tobin tax. There is no need to have FTT and GST; just have the FTT, the revenues could be huge. Unlike GST, FTT is progressive.
          The percentage take is tiny, for instance, less than 1%, more like 0.1% on each and every transaction; the level is flexible, depending on transaction type, volume of transactions etc.
          Jim Anderton’s New Labour and its successor entities all promoted it.
          ”Always wanting less tax and very simple tax is a twisted way for the wealthy who are anything but simple, to act when it comes to taxes.”
          Yes, I love it how the regressive things have to be universal, but entitlements have to be ”targeted” to those deemed needy.

        • Plan B 4.2.1.2

          I think they were people in money in Dunedin and Central Otago , associated or owning Forsyth Barr. People like Howard Patterson etc. Very rich and fingers in many pies down there.

  5. Bill 5

    Two quotes from a speech given in 1972 by Jimmy Reid that’s (sadly) as relevant today and half a world away as it was then.

    A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit.

    I am convinced that the great mass of our people go through life without even a glimmer of what they could have contributed to their fellow human beings. This is a personal tragedy. It’s a social crime. The flowering of each individual’s personality and talents is the pre-condition for everyone’s development.

    If you’ve never read his speech given to Glasgow University students in ’72, then here’s the link.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/still-irresistible-a-workingclass-heros-finest-speech-2051285.html

    • Anne 5.1

      Chris Hipkins goes some way to rehabilitate his reputation in my eyes:

      Labour supports Green’s Education measures

    • karol 5.2

      Ah. And he said all that in 1972. And he n=ends with a quote from the people’s poet, Rabbie Burns – (although I guess the patriarchal language was of its day – but otherwise, great sentiments).

      The golden age, we’ll then revive, each man shall be a brother,

      In harmony we all shall live and till the earth together,

      In virtue trained, enlightened youth shall move each fellow creature,

      And time shall surely prove the truth that man is good by nature.

      And tis around the time of Burn’s aniversary.

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  • No spade work done on big building plan
      Only a quarter of the 500 hectares of Crown land the Government wants to use for new homes is understood to be suitable for building on, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This was National’s bold new idea to… ...
    2 days ago
  • National: Seven KiwiSaver cuts in seven years
    National’s campaign of KiwiSaver cuts has reached seven in seven years as it dismantles KiwiSaver block by block, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “KiwiSaver is critical to establishing a savings culture in New Zealand but National has taken a jenga-style… ...
    2 days ago
  • Tolley’s actions contradict reassurances
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has serious questions to answer following the forced closure of Relationships Aotearoa just days after her reassurances she was looking at ways to keep the service operating, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.… ...
    2 days ago
  • SkyCity downsize another broken promise
    The downsized SkyCity Convention Centre does not deliver on the promised iconic world-class centre and shows the true extent of Steven Joyce’s incompetence, Labour Leader Andrew Little said today. “New Zealanders were promised an iconic world-class convention centre that would… ...
    2 days ago
  • Te Arawa partnership model a step closer
    Councils around New Zealand have an opportunity to improve their consultation with Iwi Māori by following Rotorua District Council’s Te Arawa Partnership Model, Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Rotorua District Council will today decide whether to adopt… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour mourns Dame Dorothy Fraser
    Labour Leader Andrew Little said the party is today mourning the loss of the youngest person to join the Labour Party, Dame Dorothy Fraser, who went on to be a stalwart of the Dunedin community and tireless worker for others.… ...
    3 days ago
  • The ultimate scapegoat: PM blames fruit fly for new tax
    The Prime Minister has found the ultimate scapegoat for breaking his promise not to introduce a new tax – the Queensland fruit fly, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “John Key’s first policy upon taking office and assigning himself the… ...
    3 days ago
  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    5 days ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    5 days ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    6 days ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    6 days ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    6 days ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    6 days ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    6 days ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    6 days ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    6 days ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    6 days ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    6 days ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    7 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    7 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    1 week ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    1 week ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago

  • Ongoing celebrations for Supreme Court ruling
    Recreational fishers are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that changed the fisheries management landscape in New Zealand. In a landmark decision in 2009 the Supreme Court confirmed the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, ...
    6 mins ago
  • Banks investigation “not subject to political interference”
    A report released today by the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that the Police investigation into John Banks’ return of expenses and donations at the conclusion of the 2010 Auckland Super City Mayoral election was thorough and robust and was… ...
    39 mins ago
  • Using racism to win means you’ve already lost
    The Human Rights Commission is urging everyday New Zealanders to stand up to racist sports fans and players. ...
    56 mins ago
  • Jim Butterworth
    Jim Butterworth was the elder statesman of our great union. He served to protect and advance the interests of New Zealand working people over many years of union organising and leadership. Jim led the northern region of the Engineers’ Union… ...
    1 hour ago
  • Closure of Relationships Aotearoa
    The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) Chief Executive Lucy Sandford-Reed is concerned about the closure of a national service which provides a wide range of services to rural and urban communities throughout New Zealand.  ...
    1 hour ago
  • Three Years Since Villaggio Fire
    Jane and Martin Weekes, the parents of the two-year-old triplets, New Zealand citizens, who were killed in the Villaggio mall fire in Doha, Qatar, on 28 May 2012 will be reflecting on the short lives of Lillie, Jackson and Wilsher… ...
    2 hours ago
  • Count human health in your climate calculations
    The government may be asking for public input on New Zealand’s planned action to address climate change in the lead-up to global negotiations this year in Paris, but health is left out of the equation, health groups say. ...
    2 hours ago
  • PSA welcomes Hawke’s Bay DHB’s decision on food services
    The PSA welcomes Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s decision to reject Health Benefits Limited’s proposal to outsource food services to multi-national company Compass Group. ...
    13 hours ago
  • Overseas Trade Indexes (Prices and Volumes)
    We are combining the Overseas Trade Indexes (Prices) and Overseas Trade Indexes (Volumes) into one release as of next week’s 2 June publication. ...
    19 hours ago
  • Core government cap disappointing and disingenuous
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says the Government’s continued focus on capping the size of core government administration is counter to providing New Zealanders with the services they need and depend on. ...
    19 hours ago
  • Saudi ‘Compensation’ Not in Full And Final Settlement
    The Taxpayers’ Union is has uncovered that despite building a $7.5 million ‘Agri-hub’ and paying $4 million to the Al Khalaf Group, no settlement agreement or liability waiver was secured in relation to the apparent claim the Government is using… ...
    19 hours ago
  • SkyCity still holds winning hand
    SkyCity still holds winning hand despite having to pay more for Convention Centre The Problem Gambling Foundation says it is not surprising SkyCity was prepared to put more money into the Convention Centre considering the Casino has been granted ...
    20 hours ago
  • Doctor, I’ve got a 7 year itch
    Young Labour supports the campaign by the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association to have the 7 year lifetime limit on student loans scrapped. “This policy by the National Government makes no sense. It means that medical school students may be… ...
    20 hours ago
  • Vulnerable people will be most affected by closure
    The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is concerned that vulnerable clients are being left in the lurch in the wake of the abrupt closure of Relationships Aotearoa. ...
    20 hours ago
  • Young Nats call for Govt to back Med Students
    The Young Nats support the New Zealand Medical Students Association’s campaign to exempt medical students from the seven year equivalent full time study cap on borrowing for course costs, and want the cap extended to nine years for this group… ...
    21 hours ago
  • Review of fire services a major opportunity for future
    Wellington, Wednesday 27 May 2015 - Rural and urban volunteer firefighters make up 80 percent of New Zealand’s fire services. Their representative organisation, the United Fire Brigade’s Association (UFBA), says the Minister for Internal Affairs, ...
    23 hours ago
  • Fire Service review rules out fairest option
    Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton says “the Government has made a mockery of genuine consultation by ruling out the fairest, most cost effective and sustainable way of funding the Fire Service” in its release of the Fire Services review… ...
    24 hours ago
  • NZMA supports students’ call on loans
    The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) supports the call by the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) for the Government to urgently address the impact of time restrictions on the student loans of many medical students currently ...
    24 hours ago
  • No Rights of Access to $11.5 Million Dollar Saudi Farm
    Exclusive: No Rights of Access to $11.5 Million Dollar Saudi Farm WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Taxpayers’ Union has uncovered that despite taxpayers forking out $11.5 million to build an ‘Agri-hub' in Saudi Arabia, officials failed ...
    1 day ago
  • Abduction attempt blamed on lax politicians
    Commenting after yesterday's attempted abduction of a five year old boy outside a Hastings school the Sensible Sentencing Trust has lashed out at politicians for “putting our kids at an undue and totally unacceptable risk”. ...
    1 day ago
  • Press Release from SuperGrans Aotearoa
    SuperGrans applaud the government for providing an extra $25 per week for low income families and further supporting Whanau Ora, Children’s Teams and CYF. These are all initiatives that will enhance collaborative effort to support our precious and ...
    1 day ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa welcomes discussion
    The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) advised by phone this afternoon (26 May) that five agencies have been selected to undertake the work Relationships Aotearoa (RA) had been contracted to provide for MSD. “Since 15 May, RA has been working… ...
    1 day ago
  • Human Rights Commission welcomes Rotorua partnership model
    Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy has welcomed news that Rotorua District Council has agreed to a modified version of the Te Arawa Partnership model. ...
    1 day ago
  • Final nail in coffin for Solid Energy workers
    Today’s confirmation of job losses at Solid Energy’s Stockton and Spring Creek mines shows the urgent need for new economic opportunities on the West Coast, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. ...
    2 days ago
  • Comments sought on Takapūneke Reserve
    Comments sought on Takapūneke Reserve Christchurch City Council wants public input into a plan that could help make Banks Peninsula's Takapūneke Reserve a National Reserve. The Council is currently seeking written suggestions to help draft a Reserve ...
    2 days ago
  • What the Dickens is going on at SDHB?
    What the Dickens is going on at SDHB? Problems at the financially-strapped Southern District Health Board appear to stretch to its HR department with information obtained by Labour showing it still records staff leave entitlements using manual book-keeping ...
    2 days ago
  • Maori Party Labels One Man, One Vote Supporters as Racist
    The Maori Party’s approach of bullying and intimidation against those who have stood up for one person, one vote, in Rotorua, is a dishonourable act by Members of Parliament that should know better. Democracy Action, a pressure group which champions… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government proses weakening the Health and Safety law
    “The Government’s suggestion that the new workplace health and safety laws will be weakened is very disappointing”, says Hazel Armstrong health and safety lawyer and member of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel. ...
    2 days ago
  • Giving faces to the faceless
    Powerful films and unforgettable documentaries can highlight human rights in ways speeches and documents never will says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy. ...
    2 days ago
  • Deaf Aotearoa applaud NZ On Air funding announcement
    Deaf Aotearoa are thrilled with the announcement that NZ On Air will be providing additional funding for captioning on TV One, TV2, TV3 and FOUR. Independent captioning and audio description service Able will receive $400,000 more in the coming year,… ...
    2 days ago
  • Scott Technology lays off Christchurch workers
    Thirteen workers at Scott Technology, which manufactures, services and installs equipment for the appliance industry, were informed last week that they have been made redundant. This announcement, which came as a shock to the workers, comes after ...
    2 days ago
  • Smaller Convention Centre Should Mean Less Pokies
    Family First NZ says that with the downsizing of the SkyCity Convention Centre, the legislative concession for allowing an increased number of pokie machines should be significantly reduced, if not scrapped. “As we said from the outset, this deal ...
    2 days ago
  • Parliament missing in action on RMA reform
    Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said recent indications of ‘no change’ to sections 6 and 7 of the Act means it is now clear that after six years Parliament is incapable of delivering anything more than the lowest common denominator –… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government wants safer workplaces… or does it?
    Government wants safer workplaces… or does it? Today a widow and a mother sit together in the High Court in Wellington fighting for justice for the men that were killed at work in the Pike River Mine disaster of 2010,… ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealanders reckon they’re doing pretty well
    The majority of New Zealanders say they’re highly satisfied with their lives, and slightly more rate their sense of purpose highly, Statistics New Zealand said today. These are the first results from Statistics New Zealand’s survey of nearly 9,000 ...
    2 days ago
  • Rural hospitals’ services vulnerable
    “The Southern District Health Board’s efforts to tighten its financial belt are clearly going to have very serious consequences for rural hospitals,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists ...
    2 days ago
  • Settlement and iwi unity overwhelmingly important to Ngāpuhi
    The settlement of historical Te Tiriti Waitangi grievances and iwi unity are growing in importance to Ngāpuhi, says a Horizon Research survey report released on 24 May. ...
    2 days ago
  • Protecting workers’ lives is not “onerous”
    26 May 2015 Media Release Protecting workers’ lives is not “onerous” The government must not water down changes to health and safety legislation which are vital for New Zealand workers, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union. “The ...
    2 days ago
  • Taxpayers Short-Changed by Skycity Deal
    The Taxpayers’ Union is outraged over the latest details of the SkyCity convention centre released today, specifically that the number of delegates the centre will be able to hold has been reduced for a second time. Taxpayers’ Union Executive ...
    2 days ago
  • Parental Notification Supported by Parents & Teens
    Family First NZ is calling on politicians to reflect the concerns and wishes of parents and also teenagers, and ensure that young pregnant girls in a crisis situation receive the family support they deserve and need. ...
    2 days ago
  • Integrated approach needed for Māori economic development
    Business and asset development, employment opportunities and wealth creation must contribute to Māori well-being, according to iwi at the launch of a Māori economic development research report in Whakatāne. ...
    2 days ago
  • Unions stand together on rejection of poor pay offer
    The Public Service Association (PSA) supports the decision by New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) members to reject the settlement offer made by DHBs in their Multi-Employer collective agreement, announced earlier today. ...
    2 days ago
  • Government forces closure of Relationships Aotearoa
    Negotiations between Relationships Aotearoa (RA) and government agencies failed late yesterday afternoon (25 May 2015) when the negotiation’s lead agency, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), broke good faith provisions. ...
    2 days ago
  • 10-Year Passports Welcome But Cost Still Above Average
    The  Taxpayers’ Union  is delighted with today's announcement from Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne, that New Zealand passports will have a ten-year validity from the end of the year. ...
    3 days ago
  • Judd and Fox presenting at Māori Governance Hui
    New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd and Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox are the latest to join an exciting line up of speakers and presenters attending this weekend’s Te Tatau Pounamu Maori Governance and Representation Conference in Palmerston North. ...
    3 days ago
  • Sri Lanka bans Glyphosate imports
    The President of Sri Lanka has banned the importation of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) [1] due to the increased incidence of chronic kidney disease associated with the use of these glyphosate formulations. Argentina [2] has also published evidence ...
    3 days ago
  • iPredict New Zealand Weekly Economic & Political Update
    Budget Boosts National And Key, But PM Still Expected to Retire by End of 2017 ...
    3 days ago
  • Nurses say no to District Health Boards’ offer
    Nurses, midwives and health care assistants working in the 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) around the country have voted overwhelmingly not to accept the DHBs’ proposed multi-employer collective agreement. ...
    3 days ago
  • Taxpayers’ Union Urge Car Owners to Avoid ACC Over-Payment
    The Taxpayers’ Union is urging car owners to be careful renewing motor vehicle licences before lower ACC levy rates come into effect on 1 July and is encouraging the public not to follow the New Zealand Transport Agency’s default option… ...
    3 days ago
  • Kenia Serrano to visit Auckland, June 10-12
    Kenia Serrano is president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), which organises solidarity activities between Cuba and organisations and individuals around the world. She is a member of Cuba’s parliament. ...
    3 days ago

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