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Angry Ardern

Written By: - Date published: 12:10 pm, June 11th, 2020 - 86 comments
Categories: grant robertson, jacinda ardern, labour, nz first, uncategorized - Tags:

Prime Minister Ardern was “angry” on RNZ yesterday morning, when asked about her reaction to The Warehouse signalling 1,000 redundancies despite receiving tens of millions in wage subsidy to keep their workers employed.

Prime Minister Ardern should be angry, and so should we. Angry at her.

It’s starkly obvious now that not enough checks and balances were put in place to ensure that our hard-earned taxes and future public debt wasn’t just socialised upwards to the 1%-ers and shareholders of companies such as The Warehouse.

In fact they even haven’t influenced corporations in which they have a majority shareholding, such as Air New Zealand.

This government has kept most of the businesses alive with our tax money, but apparently have near-zero influence with them when it comes to socialising losses. And with the gutting of such firms goes also the rapid decline of E Tu, the very last of the great unions that enabled worker power in New Zealand.

This government could have made it a requirement that any company taking the subsidy had to agree to Fair Pay Agreements for their sector. These were promised to form sector-specific minimum employment standards such as wages, redundancy, and overtime. They were supposed to be agreed through bargaining between workers and employers, which then become legal requirements in that sector (Grant Robertson mumblemumblefutureofworkmumblemumble).

Unfortunately they didn’t. They’ve managed to negotiate not even one of these sector-wide agreements in New Zealand.

This is a commercially inept government.

At Waitangi this year Ardern told us to hold her to account. Tens of billions later, the virus eradicated, and opportunity for structural reform deliberately wasted, it’s time for that accountability.

We are getting done despite public debt pumping volumes of cash into obscure tiny underperformers like the arts community and performers, $400 million into helping the tourism industry survive in some new form, multiple other poorly tagged sector support, and about $15 billion more of our money on further untargeted business support such as in tax relief.

We are well overdue this government demanded from business – and then showed us public how all this cash is more than a single meth-hit that the rich alone get to inhale and pass the bong to their mates.

Even the horse racing industry actually had to promise to shut down seriously unproductive assets in exchange for public cash to keep their businesses propped up. And that was a solid NZFirst delivery item.

Surely Angry Ardern could ask Wily Winston for lessons in how not to be “angry” and folding like origami in front of business and instead how to actually negotiate to get what you want.

Why deliberately avoid getting real worker protection written in to these massive subsidies like any decent social contract would?

What exactly are we getting out of this except more of the 1% getting more of the 99%’s share?

At what other point in our history has government held reins over our corporations like this? Why is this the most we can expect of altering our economy for the good of us all?

Sector after sector, like a long jailhouse corridor for the covid-convicted citizen, we’re seeing greedy corporate and hands take public money as it is handed out but fail to sign over public good bonds, and instead slam steel door after steel door against ordinary New Zealanders.

Ardern should turn her anger to herself, and so should we.

86 comments on “Angry Ardern ”

  1. McFlock 1

    The wage subsidy goes to workers, not the employers as a final recipient.

    I think you're also missing the point of it, and the loans. Making them conditional defeats the purpose, which was to get as much money out there as quickly as possible. Throw it out there and assess later. If the boat has a leak, you don't craft an ideal patch to perfect size and make a seamless weld, you patch the bloody thing as securely as possible and sort out the fripparies when you get back ashore.

    Oh, and on behalf of the arts community, get knotted. Actors are workers too.

    • Enough is Enough 1.1

      I think you are missing the point of Ad's post. He/She is not arguing against the wage subsidy. The point is the government has failed to ensure the payment of the subsidy resulted in industry reform.

      How else can you explain the Warehouse situation? Take the wage subsidy, fire 1000 employees, then continue on BAU.

      • McFlock 1.1.1

        If they take the wage subsidy and don't pay it to the employees, that's fraud.

        One could equally say that the wage subsidy kept a thousand workers employed for a little bit longer.

        Getting into a shitfight over industry reform would have been a distraction from the purpose of the wage subsidy: get money out, quickly. The dick move by the warehouse is that the government made an effort, the people made an effort, but the warehouse isn't being part of the team of five million. But the only difference between them being dicks now and them just shutting the stores at the start of L4 was the wage subsidy.

        If industry changes had been a condition of the wage subsidy, do you really think the warehouse would have changed to give its workers a bit more money for the next couple of months? Or would they just have done a Bauer Media – take your money, I'll fire 'em all anyway?

        • Enough is Enough 1.1.1.1

          I accept you opinion.

          I just don't agree that we should be accepting the BAU approach being taken by the government, and need to be demanding a hell of a lot more.

          • McFlock 1.1.1.1.1

            But it wasn't business as usual. The more you complicate a response, the more likely it is to screw up.

            We can demand a hell of a lot more now because we're [effectively] covid-free and many of us are still at work. But everyone except the 1% would be much worse off without the immediate and incredibly quick (an org I'm involved with got it the same day as application – good luck having that if there were hoops to jump through) support.

            It's not a model for achieving industry change. It's a model for the distribution of benefits – in this case before the recipients became unemployed.

            • Enough is Enough 1.1.1.1.1.1

              No-one is arguing against the wage scheme. Ad, me, National, ACT, Labour Greens. In fact I don't you will find a person in New Zealand who disagrees with the wage subsidy scheme.

              The issue is now what. The government has an opportunity for reform, but they don't seem to be doing anything other than paying cash.

              • McFlock

                That doesn't seem to be the gist of the post, which seems to argue that the wage subsidy was poorly implemented.

                • Enough is Enough

                  I am not sure that is the gist. Only Ad can confirm that. For me the takeaway line which I am in total agreement with is:

                  "At what other point in our history has government held reins over our corporations like this? Why is this the most we can expect of altering our economy for the good of us all?

                • Nic the NZer

                  As I read it Ad is arguing that some kind of employment reform hangs on a negotiation between the government and employers, so by paying the subsidy expediently then an opportunity was lost.

                  But as far as I can see if the government wants to implement a requirement for specific fair pay agreements by sector that carries as much legal weight today as it always has.

                  • McFlock

                    yeah, seems that way to me, too: that the subsidy was a missed opportunity for leverage, just an ill-considered gift to companies.

                    But it doesn't pay the rent or power, it goes to the people the government wanted to keep in jobs. Seriously, lots of businesses were looking at closing immediately, simply because they couldn't last a month with zero income. The wage subsidy pushed that limit further by significantly reducing the operational expenses. The loans are another assist.

                    I think conflating this assistance with wider employment goals would have seen a significant number of tories just shutter their companies and take the limited liability hit, without bothering to run through L4.

              • Sacha

                The government has an opportunity for reform, but they don’t seem to be doing anything other than paying cash.

                The opportunity for meaningful change starts now, not a couple of months ago.

                Who is in the government's ear putting the case for fairer investment? We know business cronies have not stopped sweet-talking Winston or the Nats.

                • Enough is Enough

                  That's why I used the word "has" rather than "had".

                  Although as the second tranche of the wage subsidy has just begun (with not event the hint of reforms attached to it), perhaps"had" was the correct word to use.

      • Wayne 1.1.2

        The government did not have licence to use Covid as device to drastically change industry. That would have been tantamount to using government power for coercive blackmail. It would have resulted in a real backlash, at the very time when they were asking a huge amount from the public.

        In any event an election was just a few months away. If the government wants to do these things they should campaign on them.

        • Incognito 1.1.2.1

          Exactly!

        • Enough is Enough 1.1.2.2

          Thanks Wayne.

          I recall Labour promising to be "transformational" and to have Fair Pay Agreements in place by now. So they did campaign on them and should be doing something about them.

        • RedBaronCV 1.1.2.3

          Pretty weak argument there Wayne.I do seem to remember a long ago post of yours where I was informed that basically John Key could do what he liked

          And well National did plenty of things they didn't have the license to do. GST increases, Power company sales and more.

          What I have found really refreshing though is that Labour has not said even when they well could have:

          National did it too…..

          National caused this problem…

          The lack of blame shifting and deflection that was Nact’s main tool throughout government is a welcome relief.

    • Tricledrown 1.2

      This helps companies retain valuable staff but the Warehouse don't value their staff.

      [Fixed typo in user handle]

  2. tc 2

    This was on the cards given the rushed nature and can't disagree with the points made here.

    There always retrospective change with penalties so nz can see where each party votes on it.

    IMO start with immediate one off audits of CHH and Fletcher's as a signal to the rest about being serious.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    Little use being angry with Jacinda Ardern alone, better to look at the state of New Zealand–35 years of Parliamentary neo liberal consensus, structural merging of the interests of private capital with public infrastructure–State Sector Act, SOEs, Reserve Bank Act, privatisation of power generation and supply etc. etc. The NZ Labour Party Caucus would be lucky to have more than one or two with a class analysis in it.

    Plus a huge preponderance of aspirational self employed, SMEs and workers called contractors–who identify as petit bourgeois–plus various rural industrialists. Many of these people are not “worker friendly” despite effectively being workers themselves. The Government moved swiftly on a “high trust model” to cuddle these people because in all likelihood there would have been anarchy and less than full support for a Level 4 Lockdown if they had not. It bought immense risk with it which we are seeing the result of now.

    “Covid-Capitalism” could be seen coming before the wage subsidies were announced, and now sure enough corporates including AirNZ, The Warehouse, Fletchers and Carter Holt Harvey have been outed as rorting it. The subsidies went to employers rather than workers accounts and that is often where they stayed, with many workers forced to use their own leave.

    Others deserve blame too such as Labour’s perpetual cheerleaders–the NZCTU–always “welcoming” this or that, but never calling workers to arms, the 10 days sick leave was one of the few initiatives understandable to working class people that they have raised for a long time.

    Yes, Etū is taking a hammering over all this and the answer is for left forces to work out some concrete plans and raise support–Nationalise AirNZ for starters, chase down every last dollar falsely claimed by bent employers, cut the two tier welfare payments and bring in a Basic Income pronto.

    • Climaction 3.1

      Are you attacking the workhorse of the economy because they can’t afford to pay what you deem to be appropriate? What do you pay your employees?

      or is being a sideline commentator with no skin in the game your thing?

      • In Vino 3.1.1

        Your 'workhorse of the Economy' is not the group you imagine it to be. Many of that group are selfish, greedy profit-gougers.

        The real 'workhorse of the economy' are those willing to put in a fair day's work. The trouble is that, under current circumstances, far too few get a fair day's pay.

        A system designed to underpay people does not deserve any loyalty from anybody.

  4. mickysavage 4

    Just to comment most of the time Ad and I agree, this time I think he is being unduly pessimistic although the country is still facing incredible issues.

    • tc 4.1

      Fair enough however now is the hour to get on the front door and set the agenda.

      Time for a spotlight on this and infrastructure as 20% of the UFB build is about to pass into an Oz fund that already owns our natural gas network.

    • Ad 4.2

      Noted Mickey.

      Yes I'll make sure I do some that lighten up a bit.

  5. On the chopping block: (largely referenced from wiki: COVID-19 pandemic in NZ)

    • The Warehouse – 1000 cut
    • Air New Zealand – aiming for 50% cuts, of 3500+ staff
    • Fletcher building – 1000 cut (in NZ, more in Aus)
    • Bauer Media – killed the Listener, and 200 jobs
    • NZME and MediaWorks – 200 and 130 cut
    • Ngāi Tahu Tourism – 300 cut (down to 39!)
    • TAB – 230 cut
    • James Hardie building supplies to shut down
    • Bunnings and Mitre 10 closing numerous stores

    There's a lot wrong with the economy. It's the Great Depression v2.0:

    • MSD "is preparing for a wave of 300,000 benefit applications"
    • The "gig economy" circumvents minimum wage law
    • And yet, Farmers can't get workers
    • Bankers and real estate agencies are still getting money for nothing

    As soon as the government announced its 80% subsidy, bosses gleefully cut everyone's pay by 20%, even if they weren't an affected industry.

    The world economy is cratering. The least the Government should do is ensure that we are all in this together, including the 1%

    • roblogic 5.1

      A pithy comment, that captures what's wrong with rogernomics NZ

      • Tiger Mountain 5.1.1

        Totally. The Warehouse was among the first to dance on the grave of NZ manufacturing with its cheap imports. Small operators have been decimated wherever they open a store. They started a yellow in-house union in the 90s, used unpaid labour in the form of dodgy intern schemes, divide and rule the workforce, and really, anything much positive for employees was achieved by NDU/FIRST Union members.

        It is time to retire the Tindall myth and consumer boycott the place.

      • Adrian 5.1.2

        And now history repeats and the Warehouse is facing competition of its own from new big-box rivals . There is only so much money to be spent on plastic shit and cheap clothes that fall apart in weeks, to go around.

        I had hoped that the lockdown would have taught some people that they really don't need to spend so much money on shit they don't really need and realise that unessecary consumption was merely a sport or diversion for those who don't have a lot going on in their lives. There is some evidence that this has happened in a small way, although that may be the effects of income trimming.

        I think the Warehouse management realise this too and expect sales to drop after the poste Covid surge, hence the pulling back.

  6. Enough is Enough 6

    Brilliant post.

    It was John Key who made the comment "never waste a crisis" which many around here criticised., when the government should have been taking that message on board.

    During a crisis you have the opportunity to do things that are a lot more difficult to achieve than during the good time. People are scared of change and wholesale reform during the goods times, despite the fact those reforms are desperately needed.

    The government has political capital right now than they will ever have again. Now is the time to make bold decisions.

    Handing money out to corporate New Zealand, then patting them on the back and saying as you were is something a National government would have done.

    We expect and should be demanding more.

    • roblogic 6.1

      John Key's comment (IMO) was in reference to the business sector using COVID as a pretext to trigger a wave of retrenchment – the smiling assassin knows all about that. Or perhaps he was cheering on predatory disaster capitalism, as happened during the Chch quakes under his gnat regime

      • Enough is Enough 6.1.1

        John Key's response to the crisis would have been the polar opposite of what is needed (and I knew mentioning his name on The Standard was probably a silly idea). But the sentiment is 100% correct.

        Change can be made during a crisis, and we should not be missing the opportunity do so during this crisis.

        • roblogic 6.1.1.1

          Yep. "Think Big 2.0: low carbon edition". Widespread private sector reform, and a revolutionary public works programme… (funding for it was part of the Budget, what it looks like in reality is a different matter)

          • Enough is Enough 6.1.1.1.1

            In reality I haven't seen anything in the past three months that would indicate real fundamental change.

            Fundamental change and reforms to the economy would result in a very loud and well funded campaign of opposition from both corporate New Zealand and National.

            However neither corporate New Zealand, nor National have proposed anything different to what is being done. That is very telling. They will oppose because that politics, but the absence of any alternative strategies suggests they are fundamentally happy with what is, or more worryingly, what is not being done.

            • roblogic 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Big business can't really criticise too loud while also taking big subsidies. They have to rely on the inept Nats to do it (lol). I take your point though, it's a huge challenge to fix working conditions that have been degraded under 30 odd years of Rogernomics, cheap imported labour, and slack enforcement of labour laws. I hope this government (or the next one come September) is up to the task.

    • Chris T 6.2

      "It was John Key who made the comment "never waste a crisis"

      Do you actually have a link for this?

  7. Sabine 7

    if these companies received the wage subsidy and did not use them on their staff then the government should be able to claim this subsidy back.

    i mean, WINZ has the skills and talents needed to claw money back given to beneficiaries and should thus have no issues clawing this money back from the large corporations that did not forward this benefit to the staff.

    Maybe be angry with the abusers of the system? Also, yeah, what have artists ever done for society. Lazy bludgers.

  8. Grant Insley 8

    1. The payments were always going to have an element of trust involved with the proviso that checks would be made after the fact. Step out of line and you will be exposed.

    2. More than a tad abhorrent to use 'blackmail' to further someone else's agenda during a crisis. That's not the way Labour works, I think they've demonstrated that very well judging by 'the' polls.

  9. Anker 9

    Yes I was one of the people who criticised keys never waste a good crisis. I think it’s a shameful approach and the problem is Key did not then condemn such an approach given the crisis we are facing…

    where is good faith in all of this? Warehouse accepted the subsidy, likely knowing they would cut these jobs. Their ceo made nigh on $2,000000.00 last year including bonuses. Last year they made a profit and they were able to trade on line during lockdown. I completely concur with the PM’s anger. If I had the time I would organise a picket and a weekly boycott of these stores to threaten them, that unless they retain their staff, they are going down…….then if I was the govt I would give money to the employees to build their owns stores.

    the govt did the right thing with the wage subsidy. Blaming the govt for the warehouses psychopathic activities is like blaming the victim of a sophisticated con man. I expect better from the website

    • In Vino 9.1

      +1

    • left for dead 9.2

      I will blacklist this company,yes I know jobs but in supporting other traders that must help in the medium to long term.

      Remember this ceo stated in an interview on MSM that its the Government iis to blame as they did not make the whorehouse an essental service but in another breath said this had been a long term plan to sack staff.

      edit,were is spell check on this site,being dyslexic had been a helpful feature.

    • Gosman 9.3

      "… the warehouses psychopathic activities…" Does this include becoming a living wage employer?

      • left for dead 9.3.1

        Any business that cannot pay a living wage should step aside or at the very least the owners but on the overalls and/or pinny and do the work themself.Get them of the golf coarse's the lazy B's.

        Edit..weres the spellcheck.I'm on linix,please help

      • anker 9.3.2

        Gosman @9.3 no the Warehouse giving its employees a living wage is not part of its psychopathic activities……Paying their CEO two million including the bonuses and taking the Govt wage subsidy, and getting rid of 1100 workers at this point of time is

  10. Patricia 10

    New Zealanders will not forget this perfidy. It was always a high trust model done quickly, and Advantage you know laws are not so easily changed. Personally speaking our family has decided to remove Warehouse from our list of vendors.

    We have already paid quite a substantial sum to a house painter, shopped at our preferred local supermarket and had a meal at our favourite cafe' to "shop local".

    It is not Jacinda Ardern who is wanting, it is the greed and self interest of large entities which appear to have lost their sense of community.

    Why are you not asking for better from them?

    Saying this Government spends money poorly in view of the flag referendum and a past general tranche of promises without funding. is laughable.

    The lie that National Governments are better managers is just so false. The raft of neglect speaks loudly.

    Jacinda Ardern is angry at their cavalier behaviour towards their workers, with good reason.

    To expect they could manage everything in less than three years is wishful thinking, given all the unravelling that happened previously.

    • Anne 10.1

      Well said. Thanks Patricia.

      The lie that National Governments are better managers is just so false. The raft of neglect speaks loudly.

      So true. One does not have to look any further than our Health system to see the truth of that statement although it can be said of other public institutions as well. Look at the woeful state of affordable housing and the Opposition – who created the situation – have the gall to blame the present government. It is impossible to right all the nation’s woes in a single term.

      And yes, I'm doing my bit to support local businesses. Just had some exterior structural repair work completed and concentrating on a partial interior spruce up. Paintwork complete and new modestly priced carpet to be laid downstairs next week. Purchased some new curtains. All of it from small local retail outlets and tradies.

      If every person who can does the same thing then we will avoid the worst of the coming recession to the overall benefit of everyone.

    • gsays 10.2

      I agree with what you say.

      Considering what has been said about supporting locals, the PM must be livid over Kiwirail's decision to further invest in an offshore entity. An entity that has delivered a disappointing product in the past.

      Warning contains some corporate speak which is offensive to some ears.

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018750213/kiwirail-buys-more-troublesome-chinese-made-engines

      • Grumpy 10.2.1

        Personally I would like to see the work go to Kiwi companies and the two mentioned are Downer and Fletchers.

        Downer are Australian and currently doing the Christchurch Southern motorway which is the slowest road building project known to mankind. Clearly they have scored a time and materials contract and are milking it for all its worth.

        Fletcher's -pfft. Mismanagement, cost and time overruns (have they actually finished Greymouth Hospital yet).

        I suppose we really want the project completed in a timely and economical manner, in which case there is no option but to go offshore.

  11. barry 11

    I think you are confusing the Labour party with a socialist organisation. They are not as bad as the opposition and have been hamstrung by NZ First. Still the Labour party has not completely cast off its neoliberal elements.

    I accept that the government has been struggling to keep up. the wage subsidy was needed in a hurry and it could not be tied to any particularly behaviour apart from not getting rid of workers. the second round, and the 2 tier unemployment payments were the opportunity to make real changes. Unfortunately only the second is available to the Warehouse, so the workers are better off being made redundant.

    • Patricia 11.1

      No Barry, I am well aware that some current members of this Government are not socialist in their views. If people give the Labour Party and Jacinda a mandate in the coming election for the changes she wishes to make, we may get more social legislation passed.

      I did not see many of those large businesses cutting bonus or salary payments for 6 months,,,, but cutting staff seems their go to, as Key said "Don't waste a crisis",,,, "To increase profit" was the unsaid part of that!!

      If our favourite cafe can keep 98% of their staff, and we as pensioners can hire home help to assist someone made redundant, so can others, Every dollar rolls round the local community keeping hope and connections alive. IMO

      Those who take the community tax assistance, then drops workers don't deserve our support. I too am angry at this total lack of community support!!

    • roblogic 11.2

      As Lew put it:

  12. Kevin 12

    Nick Grayston

    Chief Executive Officer, The Warehouse Group

    “For us, retailing is all about people. Our Team Members know that working for The Warehouse Group means putting our customers at the heart of all that we do, and making a positive difference within our local communities.”

    What a load of shite.

    • In Vino 13.1

      Well, I see that K Mart are hopeful of offering positions (no doubt lowly-paid) to people laid off by the Warehouse.

      I think our country was better off with small locally-owned shops before these two invasive parasites destroyed local economies.

      • SPC 13.1.1

        Local stores have a huge advantage in quick delivery – same day, or next day as supermarkets do.

  13. Anker 14

    I am now beginning to wonder if this article wasn’t satire? Either that or someone from the taxpayers union wrote it…..

    btw how the hell are businesses supposed to guarantee at the moment they will retain their staff? Business are facing great uncertainty. That’s the whole point of the subsidy. To keep the burden of the wage bill off the employer and put money in the pocket of the employee.

  14. Corey Humm 15

    Agreed. The wage subsidy is a great idea but there should have been more expectations on buisneses who used it to subsidize the payments to their employers. It could have been a great way to get fair pay agreements or atleast have an agreement that you would keep these employees on for some ammouunt of time.

    A lot of ruthless and nasty buggers out there doing good off of govt $ then again you can't pay staff if you are legitimately going bankrupt…. It's a bloody mess.

    • anker 15.1

      Love it Pete @16

    • Wayne 15.2

      The subsidy did work. It saved the jobs for the 12 weeks of the subsidy. Without the subsidy, a lot of the jobs would have gone a couple of months ago.

      Govt support can't save jobs when so much of the economy has retrenched. The subsidy can only soften the blow, it doesn't make up for the loss of revenue across the economy. By now the total loss of revenue across the entire economy will be more than $20 billion, and by the end of the year will be around $30 to 40 billion. The govt subsidies are only about a third of that at the absolute maximum.

  15. Peter 16

    Shall we punish Ardern and Robertson? Just vote for Todd and Seymour's mobs, that'll show her.

    We won't even have to justify it by saying it's because National is always the best at running the economy. We can just say that they stuffed up handling important aspects of the Covid-19 situation.

    Seymour is bound to go for worker protections as part of his bottom line isn't he?

  16. SPC 17

    Making a contractual arrangment out of it would have slowed everything down and made it an administrative nightmare. Little wonder this was not raised back then.

    And if the employer would not agree to those terms, their staff are laid off onto JSB $250 a week (poverty during lockdown or go early to the $500 a week for the "12/24 weeks").

    Which would disrupt the ability of the business to resume at the end of lockdown – reduce employment.

    PS WP NZF blocked action on rents, CGT – and this if ever proposed… ?

  17. Maurice 18

    The unfortunate aspect of the present system is the 'business' creates the wealth that pays taxes.

    Business is taxed on profit which is left over after paying input costs and employees. The employees pay GST on every purchase they make as do those paid by the state (public service and beneficiaries). Those employees also pay income taxes.

    That Tax income is going to be even more severely impacted in the short and medium term unless those businesses are 'kept alive' – most business will record losses for the next couple of years and have HUGE Tax Credits to move forward for further years.

    The Government is merely attempting to protect those Tax Bases in to the future.

    It is NOT about "kindness" or people at all.

    • roblogic 18.1

      Incorrect. Can't remember which government MP said it, but was something along the lines of "we must remember what is the purpose of an economy… it's not an end in itself, but it should be the engine that promotes the flourishing of all New Zealanders…"

      And like an engine, the private sector economy only works *after* the Government makes certain essential things happen, e.g. legal framework, market rules, public education, roads, infrastructure.

      • Maurice 18.1.2

        If I faintly remember my history "business" (trading and exchange) existed well before formal governments. The free (or coerced!) exchange of goods was not dependent upon centralised government. The essential things you mention are a quite recent invention. A comprehensive roading system for instance was a mark of the Romans – outside their Empire trade and business took place without those 'essentials'. The Incas also had a comprehensive system of foot travel roads but many other places before those still carried out trading and exchange 'business'.

        Governments are both an assistance and hinderance to business!

        It did exist before 2018 – If somewhat imperfectly

  18. Pat 19

    dont be a dick…the wage subsidy performed exactly as intended and it was imperative that it was rolled out with the minimum of restriction and delay to achieve what was required. The fact that some received it who may be morally said to have not deserved it was irrelevant…and there always remains the ability to clawback from those deemed to have abused it…the mills may grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small.

    The purpose has been achieved, albeit a predominantly temporary reprieve.

    • In Vino 19.1

      Yes – about all that could be done. But we have those super-critical types who, presumably, could have done much better.

  19. anker 20

    100+. In Vino and Pat

  20. SPC 21

    This will come up in September.

    National is asking employers to lay off workers to embarrass Labour, in plain sight by incentivising this with their $10,000 new hire payment. Trying to exacerbate the downturn and offer themselves as the solution.

    Little wonder their anger GR has so much money in hand he could extend the subsidy on 40% and not 50% terms so easily.

    If Labour contest with fair pay industry awards, well we certainly know NACT will focus on their subsidy for MW job churn.

    Labour could look at making a third tranch of wage subsidy contingent on an employer adopting the industry fair wage standard (presuming this could be defined) “voluntarily” – but it would risk the jobs of voters – moving to the 12 week payment.

  21. Patricia 22

    I think most local businesses have realised the assistance is real for those that need it, and the help has been valued. Corporate entities should have to repay that money as loans from the taxpayers. They have reserves and resources beyond small business, unless they are being 'stripped of value'.

    Many larger firms are modern Pirates, sweeping in to take local wealth. Tax goes off shore and a token gets paid here.

    • Wayne 22.1

      Most corporates do not have that level of reserves. A couple of months would be the norm. NZ corporates are not nearly as cashed up as US companies. It is why we are such a debt laden (non govt debt) country compared to the US.

      In any event a very large number of companies will have used up all their reserves by the end of the year, because of the drastic reductions in revenue. A huge number of costs are fixed, such as rates, insurance, quite possibly leases.power and IT. Have we seen any power company reduce its charges?

      I really do think that Ad's article is fundamentally misplaced. The govt could not have used Covid to advance a far reaching agenda. That is what elections are for.

      • RedBaronCV 22.1.1

        If they are not so cashed up are then the executives are taking too much.

      • anker 22.1.2

        Rather than accept the Govts wage subsidy the CEO could have cut his unseemly salary to $250,000. (should be more than enough for a very good life) and/or use that significant amount of money to carry his company through.

        Two million dollars a year is obscene and immoral at the best of times.

  22. Would you rather the Government did nothing?

    Let the virus run riot, killing off as many as 20,000 New Zealanders.

    The economy, driven as it is from overseas, would still have been wrecked but the funeral directors would have made a killing (so to speak).

  23. Grumpy 24

    Nah, The Warehouse thought they had scored being allowed to stay open through the lockdown. They would have creamed it like the supermarkets. The Government correctly backtracked. This is just revenge.

    Any company that would inflict poorly made landfill on the people of NZ (especially the poor) does not deserve sympathy. The sooner they vanish and small enterprises pop up the better. They would offer more and better employment. Westport shows the way here – no Warehouse there!

  24. RedBaronCV 25

    Well I'm all for increasing worker rights, there is no way any government can supervise the rule following of every business in the way a union can.

    But there are a few of things that they could do very promptly right now.

    As it was a high trust model flesh out at least some of what will be looked for in the audits to encourage as much voluntary payback as possible – such as looking at track records of correct paye & wage compliance.

    Ask industry groups for relevant assistance. Some of the Kiwifruit industry firms have been pretty vocal and it sounds a lot like the ones who meet their obligations are not too happy with cowboy operators.

    Publish the list of recipients – not just the search engine. Stuff had an article on this. I get that there are privacy restrictions around small operators but even for these would just a name – no amount be relevant.

    The IRD should issue a letter ASAP to all the holders of IRD numbers where the subsidy was claimed by the employer for them. Plus details of how to do some self checking or an online tool to do such. So that they can put in the amounts of any annual leave they had to use etc. And an address that they can email any discrepancies too to target audits. Get the unions to help with this.

    Drop more than a few hints that there will be a high earner tax levy.

    Empower the large government shareholders ACC and the Cullen fund to take action on excess executive remuneration by issuing a guideline multiplier. Smaller shareholders likely to be quite happy with that.

    I'm also wondering if those big box import businesses have had their day but that's another post.

  25. mosa 26

    Excellent and timely post AD.

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