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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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    A damning Commerce Commission report out today highlights the failure of the Government to protect poor and vulnerable families from unscrupulous truck shops, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesperson David Shearer. “The report found that 31 out of 32 firms it… ...
    5 days ago
  • Taihoa at Ihumatao says Labour
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has called on the Government to rethink its controversial Special Housing Area in Māngere. Auckland Council is today meeting to discuss the development which borders the Otuataua Stonefield Historic Reserve. This project is to get… ...
    5 days ago
  • Figures suggest National deliberately excluded farming
    Figures showing the dairy industry would be categorised as high risk if there were a further five severe injuries within a year, strongly suggests National designed its flawed system to deliberately exclude farming, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    5 days ago
  • Bleak report on the state of our children
    A damning conclusion by the Children’s Commissioner today that ‘we don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the indications are not good’ should make fixing CYFs a top priority for this Government, says… ...
    5 days ago
  • Dodgy data used to justify axing KiwiSaver kickstart
    National’s agenda to run down KiwiSaver has become even clearer from a scathing critique of the Government’s justification for axing the $1000 kickstart, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Since National came to power they have not only continually undermined… ...
    5 days ago
  • Unsecure website risks Ashley MoBIEson hack
    Experts have raised security concerns that vulnerabilities in MoBIE’s half million-dollar website could lead to a possible Ashley Maddison-style hack, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The real issue here is not what data is immediately available, but what… ...
    6 days ago
  • Democracy still the loser in Canterbury
    The Government has demonstrated once again how arrogant and out of touch it is in denying Cantabrians the same democratic rights as the rest of the country, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The Environment Canterbury Bill which has been… ...
    6 days ago
  • Waiver cost still a mystery
    The Government still has no idea what it’s going to cost community and voluntary groups to get a waiver from the fees police will charge to carry out checks on their staff and volunteers, says Labour’s Community and Voluntary spokesperson… ...
    6 days ago
  • China exports fall 27 per cent in a year
    Exports to China have fallen by 27 per cent over the last 12 months - showing that the looming economic slowdown should have been expected by the Government, says Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark. “The Chinese economic slowdown should… ...
    6 days ago
  • National should support all families for 26 weeks
    Families with multiple babies, and those born prematurely or with disabilities, are the winners from moves to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks but the Government must give all babies the same head start in life, Labour’s spokesperson for… ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s health and safety shambles puts school camps at risk
    Reports that schools are considering scrapping student camps and tearing out playgrounds highlights just how badly National has managed its health and safety reforms, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Schools have been left completely in the dark about the… ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s asset stripping agenda hits schools
    National’s fire-sale of school houses and land is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and will have huge unintended consequences that we will pay for in years to come, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. Documents obtained by Labour show the Ministry of Education… ...
    6 days ago
  • Takahe massacre supposed to get all New Zealanders involved in conservation
    The Minister’s claim that a  botched cull of one of New Zealand’s rarest birds was a way of getting all New Zealanders involved in conservation is offensive and ludicrous, Labour’s conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.  “An email from Minister Maggie… ...
    7 days ago
  • Serco circus rolls on with revelations of fight club practice
    Further revelations that a Serco prison guard was coaching inmates on fight club techniques confirms a fully independent inquiry needs to take place, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Minister’s statement today that a guard was coaching sparring techniques… ...
    7 days ago
  • Government targets put ahead of students’ education
    The Government must urgently reassess the way it sets NCEA targets after a new report found they are forcing schools to “credit farm” and are undermining the qualification, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “A PPTA report released today says… ...
    7 days ago
  • ER patients in corridors as health cuts bite
    Patients are being forced to wait for hours on beds in corridors as cash strapped hospitals struggle to keep up with budget cuts, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “People coming to the emergency room and being forced to wait… ...
    7 days ago
  • Not too late to fix Health and Safety for New Zealand’s workers
    The Government and its minor party supporters are showing an arrogant disregard for workers’ lives by not agreeing to a cross-party solution to the botched Health and Safety bill, Opposition leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday I wrote to the Prime… ...
    7 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Council of Infrastructure Development
    Tēnā Kotou Katoa. Thank you so much for having me along to speak today. Can I begin by acknowledging John Rae, the President, and Stephen Selwood, the chief executive of the Council for Infrastructure Development. ...
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank points finger at Govt inaction
    In scathing criticism of the Government’s inaction, the Reserve Bank says Auckland housing supply is growing nowhere near fast enough to make a dent the housing shortage, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer today… ...
    1 week ago
  • Chickens come home to roost on climate change
    The Government’s gutting of the Emissions Trading Scheme has caused foresters to leave and emissions to rise, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods. “The release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Facts and Figures Report for 2014 on the ETS… ...
    1 week ago
  • Website adds to long list of big spends at MBIE
    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s $560,000 outlay on its new website is further evidence of excessive spending by Steven Joyce on his pet project super ministry, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says.  “Hot on the heels of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Brownlee warned over EQC repairs but ignored them
    Gerry Brownlee was warned that EQC’s underfloor repairs weren’t being done properly by industry experts, the cross party working group and in public but he arrogantly ignored them all, says Labour’s Earthquake Commission spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.  “Today’s apology and commitment… ...
    1 week ago
  • Serco wants in on state house sell off
    The Government must keep scandal plagued outsourcing company Serco away from our state housing after their disastrous record running Mt Eden prison, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Today it has emerged that at the same time Serco was under… ...
    1 week ago
  • Come clean on Pasifika education centre
    Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iinga needs to come clean and tell the Pasifika communities if he’s working to save the Pasifika Education Centre or shut it down, Labour’s Pasifika spokesperson Su’a William Sio says.  “I’m gutted the Pasifika Education Centre funding… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for NZTA to work on alternatives to flyover
    The High Court decision rejecting the New Zealand Transport Agency’s attempts to build the Basin Reserve flyover must now mean that NZTA finally works with the community on other options for transport solutions in Wellington, Grant Robertson and Annette King… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shiny new system leads to record truancy
    Record high truancy rates shows the Government’s much-vaunted new attendance system is an abysmal failure, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Data released today shows truancy rates have spiked more than 15 per cent in 2014 and are now at… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Woodhouse wrong about quarries
      The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse was wrong yesterday when he said limestone quarries were covered by the farcical Health and Safety legislation, says Labour’s Associate Labour spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “He said he ‘understood’ limestone quarries… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Taxpayers money spent on culling one of our rarest birds
    It beggars belief that four endangered takahe were killed by incompetent cullers contracted to the Department of Conservation and the Minister must explain this wanton destruction, says Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “It must not be forgotten that there are only… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing NZ must immediately move family
    Housing New Zealand must immediately move a Glen Innes family whose son contracted serious and potentially fatal health problems from the appalling condition of their state house, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Te Ao Marama Wensor and community workers… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • No understanding of the value of overseas investment
     The Government has now admitted it has absolutely no idea of the actual value of foreign investment in New Zealand, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “It is crucial that the Government starts to understand just what this overseas… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another bridges bribe from Simon Bridges
    Simon Bridges is embroiled in another bridges-for-votes controversy after admitting funding for a replacement bridge in Queenstown is “very much about… the 2017 election”, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Transport Minister is today reported as telling Queenstown locals… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Saudi tender process reeks of SkyCity approach
    The tender process for the $6m investment in a Saudi sheep farm reeks like the SkyCity convention centre deal and once again contravenes the government’s own procurement rules, says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker. “The $6m contract… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Maori Party should stand up for workers
    The Government’s proposed Health and Safety Reform Bill does not go far enough to protect those in specific industries with the highest rates of workplace deaths, says Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “We are told that Maori workers are more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister must explain budget blowout
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell must explain a budget blow out at Te Puni Kokiri, after the organisation spent more than 2.5 million dollars over their budget for contractors, says Labour’s Associate Māori Development spokesperson Peeni Henare.  “For the… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Successful effort to raise the issue of GE trees in proposed standard
    Many thousands of people submitted on the proposed National Environmental Standard –  Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).  A vast majority of the public submissions were particularly focussed on the NES having included GE trees in its mandate. People want these provisions removed,… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Fair Share Friday – Thoughts and Reflections
    As part of our Fair Share  campaign, Green MPs have been doing a series of visits to community groups across the country to have conversations about inequality in New Zealand and what communities are experiencing on the ground. I visited… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Crucial Auditor General investigation welcomed
    The Auditor General’s decision to investigate the Saudi sheep scandal is important, necessary and welcome, Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson David Parker says. “The independent functions of the Auditor General are a cornerstone of the New Zealand system of… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • KiwiSaver sign-ups continue to fall
    New KiwiSaver sign-ups in July were 45 per cent below the monthly average, despite John Key saying axing the kickstart “will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver”, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Contact bows to pressure
    Contact Energy’s decision to cut its pre-pay rates to be in line with its customers who pay monthly is good news and the company deserves credit for responding so quickly, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesperson David Shearer.  “Two months ago… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • I’m pushing for a ‘fair go’ for solar
    My Fair Go For Solar Bill was pulled from the Members’ Ballot last week and is set for a vote in Parliament. In this blog post I explain some of the background to the bill and how it aims to… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Key must explain why Health and Safety Bill pulled
    John Key must explain why his Government is delaying the Health and Safety Bill when Pike River families have travelled to Wellington specifically to register their opposition, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday afternoon John Key suggested the bill may… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Diving for sustainable scallops
    Last week, there were calls for scallop dredging to be banned in the Marlborough Sounds, following scientific report saying that 70% of the Sounds had been lost from dredging, trawling, and sedimentation from forestry. At the same time we see… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago

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