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NRT: An economic upgrade?

Written By: - Date published: 2:24 pm, March 17th, 2014 - 59 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, Economy, labour - Tags:

no-right-turn-256This was No Right Turn’s take on David Cunliffe’s broad stroke economic policy on Friday.

David Cunliffe presented the broad strokes of his economic policy today, under the slogan of an “economic upgrade”. Much of it was stuff we’d heard before: capital gains tax, universal kiwisaver, R&D tax credits, better monetary policy. But there’s also a strong focus on regional development, industrial policy, and direct government intervention. It still needs to be fleshed out, but its not a bad start. Because one thing is clear: we need to move our economy away from a focus on milk. Our environment can’t sustain it, and its not delivering for anyone other than a narrow class of wealthy farmers. As research from the New Zealand Institute has shown, rich economies have multiple sources of income. And they consciously develop them through industrial policy. And the Ministry for Economic Development (back before it became MoBIE) agreed; back in 2009 they were recommending that the government support IT and high-tech manufacturing to overcome its capital deficit by taking direct stakes in promising companies. It will be interesting to see whether Labour is willing to go this far, or whether they’ll compromise their proposed economic transformation by soft-peddling it to the business community.

59 comments on “NRT: An economic upgrade?”

  1. Ad 1

    Anyone remember the Growth and Innovation Framework? It was 14 years ago. That’s the last time any government tried a comprehensive upgrade. Did it work? One might argue that the food and beverage sector is doing OK in part as a result. At least the whole GIF thing didn’t do any harm. But it didn’t have enough time, enough backers, enough cross-party durability.

    I can understand the dismay at the dairy industry’s conquest of our landscape. But as Liam Dann points out, we have also been lucky with dairy’s success. Imagine a New Zealand in which there was no millk industry rationalisation. We had the sum total of zero exporting multinationals. We were downgraded far harder in the GFC.

    Fonterra has lazily built its model around bulk exports, which is highly wasteful of water and land, and requires little on-farm labour productivity uplifts. But dairy is the first big positive step New Zealand has taken economically in a generation. It needs to change fast up the value chain, both for the good of a more productive exporting economy, and for the land itself.

    Since 2000, the state has even fewer instruments to change the economy. Cunliffe needs to think coldly about what he has the capacity to change in 6 years. That’s the usual run time for Labour.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      But dairy is the first big positive step New Zealand has taken economically in a generation.

      Uh…the dairy farm sector is in hock to foreign banks to the tune of $30B. It has helped to indebt the entire country to these same foreign banks. We are polluting our waterways and handing over the monies from our international dairy customers in order to repay these overseas creditors.

      Then you have recent ODT headlines “farm debt up 140% per ha. over 6 years.”

      Not sure how much of a net positive this all works out to be, but I would say that it is a marginal one, and probably not deserving to be characterised as a “big positive step.”

      • Ad 1.1.1

        Foreign debt is inevitable in a country with little savings. Without major domestic savings, we need local debt spent on farms to transform from really, really low productivity farming sectors like drystock, to a plant-intensive sector like dairy. A good rotary cowshed is well into $3m.

        I would prefer that debt to be in the productive sector than in housing – which is where much of New Zealand’s private debt has been historically.

        There is no turning the dairy industry back. The real questions to go for are: where is it turning now, and where should it be turning?

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          Debt to buy plant is not a problem. Debt creating a speculative bubble in farm prices is. We are near record highs in terms of milk prices and terms of trade at the moment. And yet many dairy farms are borderline, keeping their necks just above water with regards to mortgage repayments.

          The NZ Government created the forerunners of the Rural Bank in order to reduce farmer reliance on rapacious financiers. It could have done so again, and could do so now, except that some ideological free market thinking would need to be overcome.

          • Tamati 1.1.1.1.1

            Do you have any evidence to support your view?

            The Dairy farmers I know are generally very conservative and all remember the late 80s early 90s days of ultra high interest rates. I also know that banks demand a pretty hefty equity stake on dairy conversions. Some friends of mine just converted. Took on a pile of debt, but still had to stump up a massive amount of cash.

            • greywarbler 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Tamati
              Are you a bit slow. First when CV talks about farmers being loaded with debt you say you don’t know about that.
              Then you give an example of friends dairy conversions and how much debt they took on. Wake up and smell the roses. This is what is being talked about.

              And these conservative friends – are they doing conversions? What if this was a milk bubble and it burst in three years? Where would your conservative friends be? They wouldn’t have paid off their debt and if something happens to the market, they would be having their life hocked off on the auction block.

              Was it conservative to sell to Crafur? He represents someone who has managed to buy on leverage from local farmers, and try to become a mini magnate. Then when it all crashed all the farms got sold to the Chinese, or it could have been the Yanks, or the Brits, or the Venezualans, or the South Africans. This has pushed up land prices and that is not what conservative farmers would want is it?

              Or perhaps they are on an inflationary spiral specially circling round farm land and so they can get top prices for produce but, if they have paid too much for the property in the first place, they can never make much money, it is all going to their financier’s pocket. Then the only time they make any money is when they sell it at a high price to the next buyer, and have something after repayments that they can pocket. But the farm price has just done another upward twist on the spiral. It’s just like a sharemarket rush over a longer period. Do you disagree with all that?

              • Tamati

                CV is claiming that debt is being taken on by speculators hoping that the price of dairy farms will keep rising. Anecdotally, the farmers I know have increased debt to invest more on their existing farms through dairy conversions. As CV said, debt for speculation is bad but for investment is good.

                As for my friends and family converting to dairy, I haven’t had a detailed look at the accounts but I know they are smart enough to factor in interest rate rises and a drop in milk prices when they converted. In event of either, they would have ample cash to continue operations without selling their farms. They probably wouldn’t be upgrading the Range Rover, but they’ll be just fine.

                In terms of Crafer, clearly he was a very poor farmer. He regularly had the SPCA prosecuting him over mistreating animals, so wasn’t worthy of owning a farm anyway.

                Also, all the farmers I know want to make money from running a profitable business, not by selling to a speculator anyway. Most have had their farms for decades and hope to continue to hold on to their farms long term. Farms are just like any other business, their value is determined by their future earnings potential.

            • Ad 1.1.1.1.1.2

              Dairy will be the platform for local capital that lets us move to the next phase of our economic growth. Check this out:

              http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/294544/whisky-distillery-planned-cardrona-site

              It took an incredibly hard working woman with massive entrepreneurial drive, and a South Canterbury dairy conversion, to do it.

              • greywarbler

                Oh good more liquor. We are awash in boutique beers, pubs, wineries,. The vodka company has i think been sold to a foreign giant. A familiar story with anything good we do. So we lose the benefit of all that profit becoming credits in NZ’s banking account. Instead they become ‘withheld earnings’ is that the term? So don’t be too happy Ad, there is time to shoot ourselves in the foot again.

        • Macro 1.1.1.2

          Now there is a circular argument if I ever saw one…

          There is little denying that NZ has placed almost all its milk in the one pail – but the really important question now is – “what can we do about it?”

          Last summer 2012-2013 was the worst recorded drought in NZ history, and there was substantial loss. That drought was significant in that it occurred with an SOI that was relatively neutral. http://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/indicator_enso.jsp?c=soi – it was also significant in that it was the 4th drought in the Waikato in 10 years. This year the Hauraki Plains over which I look as I type is still experiencing the effects of that last dry summer, and a drying windy summer this year.

          But the real kicker is this… the SOI is heading towards what is expected to be a significant El Nino event later this year with a consequent increase world wide in temperatures and here an even more intense drought.

          Prof Gluckman’s latest report to the PM highlights the fact that NZ will experience more drought periods in the years to come. It appears that those years have come more quickly than anyone anticipated. With what is likely to be a 50% chance of drought year on year, in at least one of our most high intensive dairying areas the question must be – have we not headed down a blind alley? You can’t milk cows when can’t feed them sufficient food and water.

          We only need to look over the tasman to Victoria, SA, NSW, WA, and Queensland to see what the effects continuous drought has on farming.

          • Murray Olsen 1.1.1.2.1

            It looks like Christchurch will just have to learn to do without water. Amy Adams’ well irrigated farms must come first.

            There has been something nagging away at the back of my mind about the conversion to irrigated dairy land, something besides the mess it makes of the environment. With global warming, we’re going to see more severe weather. Storms and flooding will be more frequent, as will periods of drought. With more precipitation, the money spent on irrigation turns out to be wasted, and the clearing of river banks becomes even more stupid, as the soil washes out to sea. With excessive drought, we run out of water for irrigation. All of a sudden, our one trick pony refuses to perform and the banks will want their money back. It seems we learned nothing from opening up hill country for sheep and watching it wash out into the Pacific when Cyclone Bola turned up.

            • greywarbler 1.1.1.2.1.1

              MO
              I remember Sir whatsisname who used to preside over Environment Canterbury – was it Kerry someone – comment on concern on tree plantings on the upper levels of the rivers apparently Because They Would Use Up Too Much of the Water Required for Irrigation. Now this was some way back, a decade ago? I thought then, hey this is good soil conservation practice, trees holding land and preventing erosion and not having soil washed down.

              Also there seems to be no concern that the aquifers holding water under Canterbury must be being depleted, and not being refilled down their normal channels because of excess taking of irrigation water.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.3

          Foreign debt is inevitable in a country with little savings.

          Bollocks.

          A country does not need to borrow when they have all the resources that they need. NZ has all such resources.

          • Ad 1.1.1.3.1

            Looking for a fully self-sufficient state is a quietist fool’s errand.

            If we had enough savings here, we wouldn’t be borrowing from overseas banks.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.3.1.1

              Looking for a fully self-sufficient state is a quietist fool’s errand.

              Nope, we’re quite capable of providing everything we need.

              If we had enough savings here, we wouldn’t be borrowing from overseas banks.

              Don’t need savings, don’t need to borrow from overseas. All that needs to happen is that the government create the money and then spend it into the economy so as to bring about the development that we want.

          • greywarbler 1.1.1.3.2

            Foreign debt is inevitable in a country with little savings.

            I was sorry to hear David Cunliffe come out with this and I didn’t think he said any qualifying comments about it.

            We have had financial predators and business tossers that have half-hitched people’s savings into companies that the promoters knew were bound to fail. How many billions have been lost to the country through mismanaged money. Some of it may have gone into infrastructure that remains, available to people who can afford large houses and boats. Much of it has been spent overseas, or here on consumer goods and travel, meals, alcohol etc.

            NZ does save. It is just that our laissez faire system adopted by the neo libs has resulted in their adopting a deliberate, wilful ignorance of the fact that the poacher does not become a reliable, honest gamekeeper. Businesses left to regulate and control themselves will always slip because of natural human moral hazard (e.g.the free dictionary on poacher turned gamekeeper – someone whose job seems to involve working against the person who is now doing the job which they did before). You can see from that, self-regulation of business is not credibtle, it must be an oxymoron.

            So our savings have been there, but have vanished into thin air and gone into the ozone layer.
            And Ad you are just trotting out the cliches and truisms of the unthinking middle class who have soaked up every bit of economic dross and twaddle handed out to them.

    • aerobubble 1.2

      Sorry, astonished. Had milk not been so strong it would not have let our lazy politicians slide. Take OZ, similarly with mining. Its not about some conspiracy that well endowed resource rich nations get corrupted, its just human nature that wealth begets sloth. Three decades of cheap high density fuels created a generation of brown noser’s who all they need to do get a warm fuzzy feeling that they had a clue (which they didn’t now in hindsight) was to declare their free market no govt-ism
      (i.e. undying love for Reagan and Thacther).

      The problem with the NZ is its manager class that has gotten very good in niche monopolies and holding the country back (so lowering the chance of them being turfed out or office, or executive positions, or property developing leaky expense homes on site that should never have been built on).

      Its all about have a shock and then growing multiple industries and so dairy has let us slide for too long. And then the problem with too much dairy, killing our tourism image, polluting our way of life, pushing up debt to foreigners. This is the peril of mono-industrialism, utterly vision-less politicians who make out how farm friendly they are, how their financial genius (that in fact is indebted unnecessarily farming families) is saving us, when precisely the opposite is true.

      We fell into a trap of simpleminded fools on the economy, called the National party.

  2. Matthew Hooton 2

    Is it really true that “rich economies have multiple sources of income”?

    Wouldn’t it be truer to say that “big countries have multiple sources of income”?

    Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

    I don’t think its all that true that Qatar, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Norway, Brunei, Macau, Switzerland, Bermuda and Monaco have “multiple sources of income” – at least in a way that stands out from most countries.

    Obviously the US does but that is the world’s third most populous country.

    • Ad 2.1

      You are beginning to go down the Porter field of “concentrating on a few things well”, and enabling the players to cluster them together. For such a small country, that still feels like the right approach.

      • Matthew Hooton 2.1.1

        Yes, I would have thought so – food, fibre (less so than in the past), tourism, oil, iron, aluminium, some machinery and, (increasingly), software and content. It is really difficult to think a society of 4 million is going to build major industries from nothing beyond these income sources where we have clear advantages. (Food tech and farm management services would be one where there is a lot of room for growth I expect, but that could be seen as a subset of food/fibre.)

        • framu 2.1.1.1

          what about an irish financial hub?

          ” food, fibre (less so than in the past), tourism, oil, iron, aluminium, some machinery and, (increasingly), software and content.”

          considering that the bulk of the nats economic plan is milk and holes in the ground – arent you kind of proving cunliffes point?

          • Tamati 2.1.1.1.1

            Almost all sectors of the economy have been growing under National. Tourism, Oil & Gas , agriculture, manufacturing, software, how has is this not been part of National’s plan?

            • Macro 2.1.1.1.1.1

              LOL

              • Matthew Hooton

                Which one don’t you think has grown over the last five years? (perhaps oil and gas now I think about it – because drilling grew so much under the Clark govt).

                • Ad

                  And don’t forget the Cave Creek Ministerial Consent. Was that Chris Carter originally?

                  I can perfectly understand the attraction of high-salary mining like oil and gas (particularly with a decent national royality system), but coal – as CV often says – should be best left in the ground.

                  • Macro

                    Not in my back yard thank you very much!

                    Have you driven through Waihi lately? Newmount’s town..
                    where millions pour in to the local economy (sarc)
                    and people can’t wait to leave…

                    Thames had one of the largest populations in the country at one stage. We are currently celebrating Heritage Week. It based its local economy on … MINING.
                    Then all of a sudden…
                    Yep things went pear shaped….
                    The incoming mayor looked at the books…
                    Ooops we have borrowed more than the town is worth!
                    People were unemployed and couldn’t pay rates.
                    The town was in administration for 16 years.
                    And the civil engineering in the town still shows signs of this neglect.

                    If we forget our history we are destined to repeat it.

                    Any money made in mining does NOT stay in the local economy. Mining beggars the local economy as well as the environment. Today mining for gold and other precious minerals is a declining industry – it appears we have just about exhausted the worlds resources.

                    Best to remember those who worked in the industry in the past and leave it at that.

                • Macro

                  And manufacturing is doing really well isn’t it….
                  – how many jobs have been lost in the past 5 years?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    NZ should do what the US does…reclassify what counts as “manufacturing” so that flipping burgers now = “manufacturing”

                • lprent

                  Perhaps you should read some stats instead on inventing them… Oil and gas has been diminishing

                  For the quick overview.
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_and_gas_industry_in_New_Zealand

                  Gas dropping off as the fields are exhausted. THe new fields that have come online are teeny compared to ones like Maui.
                  http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/energy/energy-modelling/data/gas

                  Oil is peanuts. All recent fields have been micro fields that get exhausted almost as soon as they are pumped.
                  http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/energy/energy-modelling/data/oil

                  So far almost all of the exploration in the last 10 years is pretty much coming up dry. About the only thing of interest with the hydrocarbons in NZ is that they’re rising in export price. So much so that it looks to me like they’d be much more valuable left in the ground for future generations.

                  • Lanthanide

                    Wow, that gas graph is very alarming. Maui really fell off a cliff.

                    • lprent

                      Yep. That was what was always going to happen.

                      I can’t be sure but I suspect that most of the recently exploited oil and gas fields were ones that were on reserve for a while. They got activated when the prices went up. Newish discoveries? Nothing much.

            • Ad 2.1.1.1.1.2

              Ain’t no doubt they have grown under National. But I don’t see much of any plan from them to show they caused any of it – apart from a few really messy deals in film and the National Convention Centre.

              Which goes back to a question for the original post: if the economy is gonig so well across so many fronts, why do we really need an “economic upgrade”?

              • Tamati

                What does it matter who ’caused’ the growth in the industries? These industries have grown, are employing more people and producing higher profits.

                David Cunliffe needs to explain what he means by hands on government? Does he mean subsidising loans or taking equity stakes in companies? Will he do it to all companies or just start ups?

                • Ad

                  It matters because government both local and central is a major part of this economy – and has a really specific set of roles to play beyond just the regulatory.

                  Agreed Cunliffe does need to flesh out the economic devleopment platform – there is definitely more to come from him in this space, and the speech was deliberately high level.

                  • Matthew Hooton

                    “the speech was … high level”

                    That’s code for “full of waffle and lacking substance”.

                    • Tamati

                      I’m waiting for him to further clarify what he means by the high level term ‘regional development’. I hope it’s something a little more sophisticated that pork barrel spending and protectionism in marginal electorates.

                    • Ad

                      Hmm. The main points were summarised in bullet points at the end. And even that taster speech was a fuck sight more substantial than anything John Key or Bill English have generated in the economic development space in the last six years.

                      Key can smile (and as Richard III says, murder while he smiles). But when it comes to content, Cunliffe has them both for lunch.

                    • Murray Olsen

                      “full of waffle and lacking substance”

                      That’s code for “over our stupid Tory heads. I need my masters to stay in power so I can keep getting paid, because so far my life has failed to contribute anything but hot air to the planet. Or if TricKey said it, code for ashprusnuluzzim.”

                      Fixed it for you. Now get back to hatching your egg.

                  • Tamati

                    That may be your belief. I’m pretty happy with the private sector running business and the government running the public sector.

                • Macro

                  Oh! So that’s where the 170,000 new jobs are! Why have they been so successfully hidden for us all? Hadn’t you better tell winz – think of all those bells going off!

                • Wayne

                  As far as I can tell David Cunliffe would boost govt expenditure on R&D, especially for intensive companies. At present the spend in this area is around $150 million a year, administered by Callaghan Innovation.

                  That was the National commitment in the 2011 manifesto, which was essentially my swan song as Minister of Science and Innovation.

                  The difference is that the general R&D tax credit proposed by Labour covered all firms whereas the Nats have targeted innovation intensive firms. There have been some very good articles in the Herald on this over the last week.

                  So what could Labour do that is different. Well I would say a general R&D tax credit is too wasteful, but that a good deal more could be spent on targeted programs. And Callaghan itself could be boosted. Anyway that is what Denmark, Israel and Singapore have all done.

                  But of course the Nats could just as easily do this. These ideas are essentially non ideological.

                  • lprent

                    From what I understand after being around this game for a few decades, the Callaghan fund and its predecessors are pretty useless for most NZ startups because by the time they’re big enough to use it, they’re more interested in assistance with marketing offshore than they are into straight R&D. Most of the marketing support has been pretty well cut, and the support from government sources outside of the dairy industry appears to be pathetic.

                    I have never been clear on this particular incarnation of the applied business R&D except for the obvious intern potential for grad students. If I had to guess, I’d see its primary purpose as being an attractant for overseas companies to buy up local innovation companies after they get big enough to be saleable. I’m unsure how trying to pick “winners” in the form of saleable companies helps NZ.

                    Certainly I’ve never noticed many of companies recently have had much to do with it. It appears to be something that exists more in the politicians minds and the academic circles than at the workfront

                    The problem is that the time companies need R&D support is when they’re just starting up and R&D is virtually all of their cost structure. The other time that they need it is when they’re developing their next generation of product to stay ahead in whatever markets they’ve manufactured. It isn’t often that grad students or overseas experts can help that much in either case. In my experience they usually just get in the way of getting product to market.

                    But they’re also the times that companies need reasonable amounts of guaranteed support for a number of years and generally the Callaghan fund doesn’t seem to do either, but it does take a lot more work than raising money from investors. I must have a look at its accounts how much it actually puts out and where because it is generally invisible in the Auckland innovation scene.

                    The hard bit in R&D is usually getting the capital together in startup and second innovation. The last thing that anyone really wants to deal with with pissing around with tidbits from Callaghan (which incidentally is why their success page is so damn thin IMO). Companies will usually try to raise investor capital almost anywhere else because it comes less laden with requirements outside of making and selling an innovative product.

                    And investors are generally happier with reduced taxes for R&D than they are with bureaucracy laden grants. Which is why most innovative businesses simply don’t bother.

                    Personally I suspect that the main issue with getting a decent targeted R&D tax regime in NZ lies more with the inability of the IRD to add anything to their software at present. When are they going to fix the that antique pile of crap? It has been dragging along for far too long already.

                    • geoff

                      National are such stellar economic managers they’ll probably get talent2 to fix the IRD software.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The other time that they need it is when they’re developing their next generation of product to stay ahead in whatever markets they’ve manufactured.

                      Apple’s Siri was developed by a small private business that got direct government funding to develop it. Once Siri was developed Apple bought the small company but the US government got nothing from the sale.

                      And investors are generally happier with reduced taxes for R&D than they are with bureaucracy laden grants.

                      Don’t have bureaucracy laden grants then. The US agencies which administer their grants system are actually really small even though each is handling hundreds of millions of dollars in grants every year.

                      When are they going to fix the that antique pile of crap? It has been dragging along for far too long already.

                      If the government had its own IT department the IRD’s, and every other government department’s computer system, could have been in a state of continuous improvement. We wouldn’t have this sudden need to spend independent millions on each departments systems.

                    • lprent []

                      Billions in the case of the IRD.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    At present the spend in this area is around $150 million a year

                    Not nearly enough. IMO, the government should be spending at least two to three billion per year on R&D and probably closer to twenty billion. The US government spends nine billion on drug R&D alone. And the only way we could spend that much is to get people out of the worthless service sector and into the sciences.

                    R&D tax credits usually don’t work. For them to work they have to be very well designed in the first place and heavily monitored which tends to be both expensive and decrease the value of the R&D.

                    The lesson that needs to be learned from the US, of all places, is that the best way to get R&D going is direct government funding through dedicated agencies – NASA, DARPA, ERPA, etc. The agencies provide both direction (really important) and the decades long funding needed to support the innovation that we’re looking for.

        • greywarbler 2.1.1.2

          Matthew H
          Surely what you list is what we have been doing for yonks and it has led us into a constant lack of balance in our current account, debt, unemployment, and a false sense of prosperity because maintaining ourselves in an apparent normal level for you anyway, is not happening without borrowing.

          How can you churn out your stuff day by day and still look okay in the mirror when you view yourself. I think you must be a brother of Dorian Gray.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Stable and sustainable economies don’t require income from other economies. The fact that politicians and economists think so is what is driving the economy and the environment to total collapse.

  3. Hami Shearlie 3

    Considering there are under 60,000 farmers in NZ, it seems crazy to only concentrate on things that will enrich such a small group of people in this country!!

    • Macro 3.1

      Precisely

    • Ad 3.2

      And for those 60,000 farmers, your policy preference would be to do what for them?

    • lprent 3.3

      …it seems crazy to only concentrate on things that will enrich such a small group of people in this country!!

      There are also (from memory) something like 40-50k in downstream processing industries. Historically the number employed in those industries and for that matter in farming has been steadily falling over time. But anyway still not a major employment area.

      The ICT industries for instance has somewhere between 70-80k employees and paid a hell of lot more than dairy workers.

      However this government has expended virtually all of their effort on just that section of the economy.

      • felix 3.3.1

        “However this government has expended virtually all of their effort on just that section of the economy.”

        …which all makes a lot more sense when you realise that a bunch of National Ministers are selling milk for $23 a litre…

  4. greywarbler 4

    Cripes that much per litre. I understand there is a market for breast milk – how much for that?

    • Murray Olsen 4.1

      Not one National minister has ever managed to produce breast milk. Apparently the latest medical research suggests that milk production shuts down in bitterly cold environments, such as are found in the savage breasts of the Tory of the species. This news was received with great joy by a penguin and a piece of blubber, who realised they are closer to being Gusher than they had ever dreamed possible.

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  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    4 days ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    4 days ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    4 days ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    4 days ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    5 days ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    5 days ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    5 days ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    5 days ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    5 days ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    6 days ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    6 days ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    6 days ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    6 days ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    6 days ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour calls on all parties to end coat-tailing
    Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway is encouraging all parties to support his Bill to end the coat-tailing provision when it is debated in Parliament this week.  “New Zealanders have sent MPs a clear message. An opinion poll found more than 70… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government social sector reforms
    I’ve written previously about the major shake-up that is happening in the provision of government and community services. Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development spoke publically about what these reforms are likely to look like within MSD. There are major… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • PM must explain Saudi sheep scandal backflips
    John Key’s explanations of the Saudi sheep scandal continue to be riddled with inconsistencies and irreconcilable backflips, Labour’s Trade Spokesperson David Parker says. “Either he has been misled by his Minister Murray McCully or the Prime Minister is deliberately obfuscating… ...
    1 week ago
  • Independent investigation needed into claims scientists gagged
    Steven Joyce must launch an independent investigation into claims that scientists are being gagged, says Labour’s Science and Innovation spokesperson David Cunliffe. “When 40 percent of scientists say they are being gagged and can’t speak out on issues of public… ...
    1 week ago
  • Swamp kauri mining and exports should stop
    Seeing swamp kauri mining for the first time this week was a shock. Dark peaty soil had been stripped of its plant cover and giant excavators were digging into wet, swampy soil to unearth logs that had been buried for… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • MSD going down wasteful spending track
    The Ministry of Social Development is paying big salaries and forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars on management courses while at the same time looking to hand some services over to a multinational outsourcing company with an appalling track… ...
    1 week ago
  • South Auckland housing meeting highlights stark realities
    The stark realities of life for South Aucklanders in substandard Housing New Zealand and private rental homes were fully exposed at a South Auckland housing meeting today, Labour’s MP for Manukau East Jenny Salesa says. “Local people generously shared their… ...
    1 week ago
  • The Pope, the scientists, and the diplomats: getting there on the climate ...
    The Pope’s Encyclical on the climate: ‘On Care for Our Common Home’, has finally been released. Evoking St Francis before him, the Pope reminds us that “our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life, and… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party supports Gifted Kids Awareness Week 2015
    Providing high quality teaching that caters to the specific needs of every child is an enormous challenge, but there is no investment more rewarding for society. Gifted Awareness Week gives us a chance to think about how diverse the needs… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Truck sellers still getting away with rip-offs
    The Government has admitted its brand new lending rules are already inadequate, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesman David Shearer. “Gaping holes in the Responsible Lending Code – which came into effect this month -- mean the vulnerable will not be… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government Screws the Lid Down On Raw Milk Access
    The Government’s raw milk policy announced yesterday will make it more difficult for many consumers to access the quality product of their choice, and may even be setting up the raw milk sector to fail. The Government, in its paranoia… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Operation Desert Storm
    Blaming Saudi sand storms for the deaths of 70 per cent of Kiwi lambs born on a model farm meant to showcase New Zealand agricultural expertise is another part of the ludicrous attempt to disguise buying the cooperation of a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister, your expensive slip is showing
    A Minister's comments at a press conference in Dunedin today show just how easily costs can blow out at the Southern DHB, Labour's Acting Health spokesman David Clark says. "Fresh from criticising everyone from members of the Board that his… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bridges of Northland on backburner
    Transport Minister Simon Bridges today admitted no progress has been made towards his Northland by-election bribe of 10 new bridges and could only say they would be funded sometime in the next six years, Labour's transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • MP lets down Cook Island community
    The Cook Island community has been let down by National List MP Alfred Ngaro’s decision not to support a proposal that would have removed a restrictive residency requirement, Labour says. An amendment to the Social Assistance (Portability to Cook Islands,… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for a moratorium on all live sheep exports
    The events of the last two weeks have highlighted how weak our regulations around live exports are, particularly in relation to live sheep exports. We urgently need a moratorium on live sheep exports until they’ve been significantly strengthened. We have… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Weak growth highlights lack of economic plan
    Today’s weak growth figures are less than half of what was forecast in last month’s Budget and signal rough weather ahead, Labour’s Finance spokesman Grant Robertson says. “GDP figures showing the economy grew just 0.2% in the first three months… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori TV editorial interference scandal deepens
    The Maori Development Minister has misled a select committee and appears to have broken the law through editorial interference in Māori Television, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran said today. Labour has released emails between Te Ururoa Flavell’s press secretary and… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister must act on energy CEOs salaries
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges must send a message to the Boards of the nation’s power companies that astronomical CEO salaries are not appropriate, Labour’s Energy spokesperson Stuart Nash says.  “The CEOs are earning from $ 2.1 million to $1.3 million… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Black Caps backs South Dunedin flood recovery
     People dealing with the aftermath of the Dunedin floods will be supported by the boost from Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson who have put their weight behind the Dunedin Flood Appeal in a  video released this… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Continued pressure at heart of sacking
    News that the Government has appointed a Commissioner to replace the Southern District Health Board is hardly a surprise given the mounting pressure it has been under to do more with a lot less, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson David… ...
    2 weeks ago

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