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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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  • The ultimate scapegoat: PM blames fruit fly for new tax
    The Prime Minister has found the ultimate scapegoat for breaking his promise not to introduce a new tax – the Queensland fruit fly, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “John Key’s first policy upon taking office and assigning himself the… ...
    1 day ago
  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    3 days ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    4 days ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    4 days ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    4 days ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    4 days ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    4 days ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    4 days ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    4 days ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    4 days ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    4 days ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    4 days ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    5 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    5 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    5 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    6 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    7 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    7 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    7 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    1 week ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    1 week ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    1 week ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    1 week ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    1 week ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    1 week ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    2 weeks ago

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