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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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    Inequality is getting worse under National with almost 60 per cent of the wealth in this country concentrated in the hands of the top 10 per cent according to Statistics NZ figures released today, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 days ago
  • Government freezes elderly out of insulation subsidy
    Government cuts to the Warm Up New Zealand insulation subsidy means it will now only be available for rental properties and could leave many elderly homeowners cold this winter, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In this year’s Budget the Government ...
    3 days ago
  • Shewan report delivers rebuke to National
    John Shewan’s report into foreign trusts is a rebuke to John Key and the National Party who have protected an industry that has damaged New Zealand’s reputation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Three years ago the Inland Revenue Department ...
    3 days ago
  • Auckland Airport rail analysis must be made public
    The Government should publicly release its detailed analysis of rail to Auckland Airport before it closes off options, so the public can have an informed debate, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. The Transport Agency today said it is ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister approved OIO consent despite death and investigations
    Louise Upston must say if she knew Intueri was being prosecuted for the death of a student and under a funding investigation when she approved its overseas investment consent to buy another education provider, says Labour’s Land Information and Associate ...
    4 days ago
  • Brexit vote costs NZ effective EU voice
    Despite being extremely close the result of the referendum in Britain reflects the majority voice, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “While we respect the decision to leave the EU, it goes without saying the move will usher in ...
    6 days ago
  • Pasifika Education Centre doomed
    The Pasifika Education Centre appears doomed to close down this December, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio  “In a written question I asked the Minister whether he would put a bid in for more money. His answer ...
    6 days ago
  • Onetai Station review a shameful whitewash
    A report released today on the Overseas Investment Office’s (OIO) good character test is a whitewash that does nothing to improve New Zealand’s overseas investment regime, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “The review of the good character test ...
    6 days ago
  • We need a national strategy to end homelessness now
    Long before I entered Parliament, housing and homelessness were issues dear to my heart. I know from personal experience just how hard it is to find an affordable home in Auckland. In my maiden speech, I talked about how when ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    6 days ago
  • Capital feels a chill economic wind
      Wellington is on the cusp of recession with a sharp fall in economic confidence in the latest Westpac McDermott Miller confidence survey, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Clark.  “Economic confidence amongst Wellingtonians has dropped 12% in the past ...
    6 days ago
  • Dive school rort took six years to dredge up
    News that yet another private training establishment (PTE) has rorted the Government’s tertiary funding system since 2009 shows that Steven Joyce has no control of the sector, says Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Like Agribusiness Training and Taratahi, ...
    7 days ago
  • National’s housing crisis hitting renters hard
    National’s ongoing housing crisis is causing massive rental increases, with Auckland renters being hit the hardest, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    7 days ago
  • A Day with the PSA
    This week, along with Labour MP Kris Faafoi, I accepted an invitation to spend a day working alongside the good folk at the Public Service Association in Wellington. As the Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson for the Greens, I was ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • A Day with the PSA
    This week, along with Labour MP Kris Faafoi, I accepted an invitation to spend a day working alongside the good folk at the Public Service Association in Wellington. As the Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson for the Greens, I was ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    7 days ago
  • Government holds Northland back
    New information shows Northland remains the most economically depressed region in New Zealand, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Clark. “The latest Westpac McDermott Miller regional survey found that more Northlanders believe their local economy will deteriorate this year than ...
    7 days ago
  • Rebstock report into MFAT leaks a disgrace
    An Ombudsman’s report on the Paul Rebstock investigation into MFAT leaks shows the two diplomats at the centre of the case were treated disgracefully, says Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi.  “The Ombudsman says one of the diplomats Derek Leask ...
    1 week ago
  • More families forced to turn to food banks for meals
    Increasing numbers of families are having to go to food banks just to put a meal on the table, according to a new report that should shame the Government into action, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    1 week ago
  • We have a housing emergency in New Zealand
    Auckland, New Zealand, where house prices have risen 20 percent in the last year alone We have a housing emergency in New Zealand.  Like many people we are ashamed and angry that in a wealthy country like ours, we have ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • We have a housing emergency in New Zealand
    Auckland, New Zealand, where house prices have risen 20 percent in the last year alone We have a housing emergency in New Zealand.  Like many people we are ashamed and angry that in a wealthy country like ours, we have ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Aussie reforms signal trouble ahead for school funding plan
    Plans by the Government to return to bulk funding are likely to see increased class sizes and schools most in need missing out on much-needed resources, Labour’s Acting Education spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The signaled return to bulk funding is ...
    1 week ago
  • Toxic Sites – the down low on the go slow
    In  2011, I negotiated an agreement with the National Government to advance work on cleaning up contaminated sites across the country. This included establishing a National Register of the ten worst sites where the creators of the problem could not ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Aucklanders face new motorway tax of up to $2500 a year
    The Government wants to tax Aucklanders thousands of dollars a year just to use the motorway network, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Officials estimate the average city commute is 11.8km. This means for the average Aucklander commuting five ...
    1 week ago
  • 15 corrupt bank managers identified in student fraud
    New information show 15 bank managers in India have been identified by Immigration New Zealand as presenting fraudulent documents on behalf of foreign students studying here, Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Documents obtained by Labour under the Official Information ...
    1 week ago
  • National leaves Kiwi savers the most vulnerable in OECD
    News last week that Israel’s Finance Minister will insure savers’ bank deposits means New Zealand will be left as the only country in the OECD that has no deposit insurance to protect savers’ funds should a bank fail. Most Kiwis ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    1 week ago
  • Comprehensive plan for future of work needed
    A Massey University study showing many New Zealanders are unaware of the increasing role of automation in their workplace, highlights the need for a comprehensive plan for the future of work, says Grant Robertson, Chair of Labour’s Future of Work ...
    1 week ago
  • Another National Government failure: 90 day work trials
    On Friday last week, the Treasury released a report by MOTU economic consultants into the effectiveness of the controversial 90-day work trial legislation. The report found that there was “no evidence that the policy affected the number of hires by ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • Iraq mission extension case not made
    The Prime Minister has not made the case for extending the Iraq deployment another 18 months nor the expansion of their mission, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “Labour originally opposed the deployment because the Iraqi Army’s track record was poor, ...
    1 week ago
  • Denial is a long river
    William Rolleston from Federated Farmers made the absurd claim on RNZ on Saturday that “we actually have very clean rivers”. This statement doesn’t represent the many farmers who know water quality is in big trouble and are working to clean ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Denial is a long river
    William Rolleston from Federated Farmers made the absurd claim on RNZ on Saturday that “we actually have very clean rivers”. This statement doesn’t represent the many farmers who know water quality is in big trouble and are working to clean ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Melanoma deaths could be avoided by an early access scheme
      The tragic death of Dunedin’s Graeme Dore from advanced Melanoma underlines the cruelty of this Government in promising a treatment but delaying for months, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “Graeme was diagnosed with Melanoma last year. He used ...
    1 week ago
  • Assessing the Defence White Paper
    The Government’s recently released Defence White Paper has raised questions again about New Zealand’s defence priorities, and in particular the level and nature of public funding on defensive capabilities. The Green Party has a longstanding belief that priority must be ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    1 week ago
  • Kiwis’ confidence drops again: Economy needs a boost
    Westpac’s consumer confidence survey has fallen for the seventh time in nine quarters, with middle income households ‘increasingly worried about where the economy is heading over the next few years’, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This survey is a ...
    1 week ago
  • Relocation grant simply kicks can down the road
    The response by state house tenants and social agencies to the Government’s rushed plan to shift families out of Auckland tells us what we already knew – this is no answer to the chronic housing shortage, Opposition Leader Andrew Little ...
    1 week ago
  • Peace hīkoi to Parihaka
    On Friday a Green crew walked with the peace hīkoi from Ōkato to Parihaka. Some of us were from Parliament and some were party members from Taranaki and further afield. It was a cloudy but gentle day and at one ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Children’s Commissioner right to worry about CYF transition
    The Government must listen to the Children’s Commissioner’s concerns that young people under CYF care could be ‘negatively impacted’ as the new agency’s reforms become reality, says Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern. “Dr Russell Wills has used the second annual ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill English exaggerates PPL costs to justify veto
    The Finance Minister has used trumped-up costings to justify a financial veto against parents having 26 weeks paid parental leave, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “Bill English’s assertion on RNZ yesterday that the measure would cost an extra $280 million ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must refund overcharged motorists
    Labour is calling on the Government to refund motor registration fees to three-quarters of a million Kiwi motorists whose vehicles were wrongly classified under National’s shambolic ACC motor vehicle risk rating system, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says.“Minister Kaye’s ridiculous ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 90-day work trials an unfair failure which must change
    A new Treasury report shows the Government’s 90-day trials haven’t helped businesses and are inherently unfair, Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “The Motu report found that 90-day trial periods had no impact on overall employment and did not ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Massey East houses a start but Nick Smith should think bigger
    The Massey East 196-home development is a start but the Government must think bigger if it is to end the housing crisis, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “It is great the Government is finally realising it needs to build ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More changes needed to ensure fewer cases like Teina Pora’s
    Teina Pora spent 21 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, shafted by a Police investigation that prioritised an investigator’s hunch over the pursuit of credible evidence. Yesterday’s announcement that the government is to pay him $2.5m in ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Labour sends condolences to UK
    The New Zealand Labour Party is sickened and saddened by the murder of British Labour MP Jo Cox, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Ms Cox was killed in cold blood while simply doing her job as a constituent MP. She ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shameful refugee quota increase still leaves NZ at the bottom of the list
    Minister for Immigration Michael Woodhouse announced this week that the government will put off increasing the refugee quota by 1000 places until 2018.  It’s a shameful decision that undermines the Government’s claim that it takes its international humanitarian obligations seriously, ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago

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