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Austerity will increase inequality

Written By: - Date published: 10:12 am, May 18th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: equality, uk politics - Tags: , , ,

A good article in the Guardian yesterday – by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, authors of The Spirit Level.

They argue that despite the UK government saying that tackling social mobility as its guiding purpose, the fact that “tackling the financial deficit is the coalition’s most immediate task” is undermining that supposed goal.

Social mobility shows a strong tendency to be higher in societies with smaller income differences between rich and poor.

[…] Observations from sociology and psychology help explain how inequality of income increases inequalities of opportunity. Downward prejudices (or, more simply, snobbery and discrimination) flourish in hierarchical societies. Material differences increase social distances. The elites have the “right” schools and ways of speaking, cultural markers of status. The more hierarchical a society, the more obvious differences in status, and the more likely these are to attract downward prejudice and stigma. Lacking these cultural markers of status increases the obstacles to social mobility. Young people from less well-off backgrounds risk losing out on opportunities for better higher education and jobs.

In addition, experiments show how recognition of social differences diminishes performance among those who are made to feel at a social disadvantage. […]

The Right speak of aiming for equality of opportunity to justify the wide inequality of outcome.  This gives the lie to that aim: inequality of income causes an inequality of opportunity.

Obama sees it “Gaping inequality gives lie to the promise at the very heart of America:” the American Dream, where everyone can make it if the try, is ever more false.

But back to Pickett and Wilkinson:

This is not simply a matter of justice or fairness for individuals. The country as a whole would benefit from increasing social mobility. When people are excluded from opportunities because of their background, their talent is wasted. Because so many politicians, judges, CEOs and senior people in business and the civil service have similar backgrounds, our institutions are more at risk of being out of touch with the majority, geared primarily to the needs and interests of people at the top of the income distribution.

Sound familiar?

[T]he austerity measures now being implemented mean that in the coming years the social ladder will be steeper and the rungs further apart. It is hard to see how the government’s “immediate task” will do anything other than undermine its “guiding purpose” in the absence of bold initiatives to tackle social inequality not only at the bottom, but also at the top.

Austerity is reducing the opportunities for social mobility, for reducing income inequality, for a fair society.  The increased class sizes, the removal of Adult and Community Education, the removal of Training Allowances, the removal of State Houses from more expensive suburbs and new subdivisions, and many more things National are doing in the name of “austerity” are undermining our society.

It’s a well-argued opinion piece against a different Tory government’s policies, but the arguments hold here too.  Worth a read.

42 comments on “Austerity will increase inequality”

  1. Carol 1

    Austerity can do nothing BUT increase inequality. It’s a TINA that’s designed to mask the further accumulation of wealth by those who already have wealth and power, by syphoning off money and resources from those already struggling, at a moment of systemic crisis.

    This response to the TINA, austerity wealth grab puts it well:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mark-steel/mark-steel-starve-the-greeks-and-theyll-feel-better-7754276.html

    Up until now the argument has been that there’s no alternative. We have to slash public spending and wages because there’s so much debt that otherwise there’ll be chaos, absolute chaos. The joy of this method is it saves having to make a case for your actions, so it ought to be used more often. Journalists accused of phone hacking could say, “I had no choice but to listen to a dead soldier’s voicemail because otherwise there’d be chaos, absolute chaos. Just look at Greece, they didn’t hack any phones and look at the mess they’re in, there was no alternative.”
    […]
    Maybe muggers will adopt this approach, and instead of pushing pensioners against a wall they’ll tell them, “Give me your wallet, otherwise the whole of Europe will fall apart and it will be your fault.” But now the situation is changing, because across Europe it’s being suggested the poor shouldn’t be the ones made to pay. In Britain for example it’s been revealed the national debt is equivalent to the amount the richest 1,000 people have become richer by in the past four years. Presumably they can’t be made to give it back, as they’d scream, “Please don’t make us go back to the pitiful way we had to live in 2008, that’s too cruel”. But there may be a way round that, by politely pointing out, “Sorry Mr Ecclestone and Mr Abramovich, but there’s no alternative.”

  2. True Freedom is Self-Governance 2

    With no clear evidence to suggest austerity has ever been a successful strategy (for the greater good anyway), I can think of only two possibilities; a) The government are blindly following an idealogy that has been tried and failed many times before and are hoping for a different outcome (this is commonly referred to as the very definition of stupidity), or b) The government is well aware of the true consequences of austerity and either dont care or wish to actively encourage inequality. My guess is on the latter, needy people are so much easier to control.

  3. The Baron 3

    … and the flipside, irresponsible spending increases, essentially amount to intergenerational theft as left wing Governments seek to continue buying off large parts of the electorate. Please tell us; just how much additional debt is enough to avoid these horrible outcomes, Ben?

    See, both sides can play the hyperbole game.

    • Bunji 3.1

      As KTH points out below, there are 2 sides to a balance sheet – one can increase revenue as well. One doesn’t have to introduce tax cuts for the rich (and nationalise their debt) when one can’t balance the books already…

      Beyond that we’re in a recessionary cycle at the moment, and fortunately the previous Labour Government with 9 long years of surplus had got us into net credit in the good times, so we could afford to pay for the bad. Now admittedly National have racked debt up incredibly fast – amazing without any effective stimulus to get us out of our hole – but we’ve still got a very sustainable debt currently.

      If you focus on reducing the vast gaps between rich and poor (firstly by making sure there are jobs for people to go to) you’ll find there’s a lot more people able to pay their way, a lot less talent wasted and the books balance a lot easier in the long term. But that’s not on the government’s short-sighted penny-pinching agenda.

      • simon 3.1.1

        Labour increased government spending as a proportion of GDP during its 9 years. If had maintained at same level of GDP as Nats had then accumulated government debt would have been reduced to somewhere around 10%-15% (and give a net govt stockpile) AND Nats current round of cutbacks would be nowehere near as savage as level of government expenditure would be close to Nat’s ideological norm.

        Cullen seemed to hold the views that (a) any problem could be solved by throwing money at it, with no need for any performance standard (b) the government knew better how to spend taxpayers’ money than the taxpayer. Which reminds me: you may choose tonight’s meal from the following list of approved fish.

        • Half Crown Millionare 3.1.1.1

          What the fuck are you on about

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.2

          Labour increased government spending as a proportion of GDP during its 9 years.

          Prove it. And by that I mean show us the %age of GDP spent by government since 1990.

          Also, this: Basically, if the government didn’t spend the economy would collapse – which is what’s happening ATM. It’s not private businesses that drive the economy but government. All private businesses do is take money out of the governments hand through the dead weight loss of profit (that’s why the government is now having to pay to upgrade the telecommunications network which should have bee upgraded with Telecom’s profit over the last 20 years).

  4. tsmithfield 4

    Austerity has to happen sooner or later.

    Austerity is simply living within a budget and generating a surplus to repay debt. The longer debts keep getting racked up, the deeper the austerity will be, as Greece has discovered. Therefore, it stands to reason that we are better to start some mild austerity now rather than much deeper austerity later.

    • The Baron 4.1

      Nonono TS, you’re forgetting that Labour planted that magical money tree a couple of months before the last election! We never need live within our means again – spend spend spend, because otherwise the entire world breaks down or something.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 4.2

      You’ve really swallowed the kool-aid haven’t you?

      Minor detail: the deficit is caused when revenue < expenditure. There are two sides of that equation and you're only focussing on the expenditure. Which has increased under National.

      So not only are you ignoring revenue, you're supporting a party that does the opposite of your mumbo-pocus.

      Cognitive dissonance much?

    • OneTrack 4.3

      No you just have to fire up the printing press and print as much money as you need. Look it’s working for Robert.

    • McFlock 4.4

      “Austerity” is quitting your job and then not feeding the kids because you’re broke.
      “Living within a budget” includes keeping the job, or even increasing your income, before considering spending cuts.

      • tsmithfield 4.4.1

        ““Austerity” is quitting your job and then not feeding the kids because you’re broke.”

        Nah, mate. That’s stupidity.

        Austerity has such a nasty connotation because at the moment it involves extremely indebted nations having to take medicine they should have taken decades ago. So the pain is much higher, and the disease has gotten so bad that the medicine might kill the patient.

        At the moment, in relative terms, we have a case of the sniffles that we can resolve relatively painlessly through some gentle medication.

    • Good grief. Back to political kindergarten.

      First question: Why do you think we have a ‘welfare system’ (broadly conceived)?

      Correct Answer: In order to pre-empt the numerous uprisings, riots, widespread civil disobedience and, potentially, revolt that characterised history in capitalist and other societies prior to its arrival. The main enemy has always been the threat that people will resort to that greatest of all heresies – governing themselves and so realising that they do not need someone else to govern them.

      Second question: Why else do we have large government expenditure?

      Correct Answer: to provide wide-ranging subsidies to corporate and industrial interests – e.g., mass education was established for this purpose; modern universities primarily arose – and were taxpayer funded – to serve this purpose (by providing not only highly trained specialists but also the taxpayer funding of research and development in new and emerging areas of technology); health systems – and budgets – were expanded to ‘grow’ pharmaceutical companies and associated industries; roading, other transport, energy and water infrastructures were primarily turbo-charged as a direct subsidy to commerce.

      Here in New Zealand this pattern continues with ‘roads of national significance’, ‘ultra-fast broadband’ and the like.

      Government expenditure has never been instituted to help the masses directly – when that happened it was always as a means to its real end: Providing protective fortifications – of various kinds – for those with wealth and property.

      ‘Austerity’ can be understood most simply as the current risk calculation by those with wealth and property as to the degree to which current expenditure on state provision (that actually helps ‘the masses’ most directly and subsidises the elite most indirectly) can be reduced without leading to the aforementioned uprisings, riots, etc.. (In Greece and elsewhere, the calculation is woefully awry and – guess what – the aforementioned riots, etc. are happening, as would be predicted.)

      That’s what is meant when people talk about “living within our means”: it’s code for how hard the lemon (aka ‘the masses’) can be squeezed without the pips and acid spurting out and taking out the eyes of those with the most to lose (who are not to be confused with the most vulnerable, of course).

    • mike e 4.6

      the silly monaterist!Austerity is a joke less economic activity means a bigger amount of money to find for taxes a debt repayment even David Cameron has acknowledged that today with the Greek problem.

  5. just saying 5

    Great article Ben.
    I’m hoping you push this agenda hard in the Labour Party. Because, as you know, Labour is also advocating austerity.

    • Te Reo Putake 5.1

      Crikey! I must have missed the email. Can you point out where Labour has advocated austerity, just saying?

      • just saying 5.1.1

        Am in a bit of a rush and this requires a long answer. I will get back to it. In the meantime can you point to all the Labour policies that are the antithesis of austerity?

        Ever so slightly less austerity is still austerity.

      • just saying 5.1.2

        So, not that interested in the question after all TRP.
        In that case I won’t waste my energy responding.

  6. Kevin 6

    Without austerity and economic discipline the risk to lower income groups is greatly enhanced, there would be fewer resources available and everyone would suffer.

    • Carol 6.1

      Depends on who is being austere and how. If the wealthy and powerful corner all the resources, particular when the supply is limited, the poor will never benefit.

      Now austerity by the increasingly wealthy would be more be beneficial to all.

      PS: see Olwyn below – what help is it to the poor if they starve as a result of austerity, meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer?

  7. Olwyn 7

    There is a context to the debate between austerity and “borrow and spend” as they are presently discussed, and that context is TINA, as Carol has pointed out, and linked to an excellent article in the Independent. To further quote from the article:

    “…it turns out Greece includes some of the poorest areas of Europe, and these are the areas that will be affected the most by the proposed agreement, with reports that people could actually starve. So if they caused the crisis by not starving, what were they eating? Are there regions of Crete where villagers have been living off emerald flan? Are they saying, “We thought the state-funded puddings made from grated Van Gogh paintings would go on forever.” So now they must be told, “If you don’t starve there’ll be chaos, so the quicker you start starving the better.”

    It would be possible, if not for TINA, to have a bottom line as to what is needed for a modestly decent life, and treat it as sacrosanct, so that all austerity measures had to begin above that level, and all investment required to contribute to maintaining or, within reason, raising that level. We could also tax in relation to the amount of decent employment generated, so that if you exist only to get wealthy yourself at the expense of others you pay more, and face limits as to the extent to which you may prosper at the expense of others; that is, you could not get rich in ways that would render others homeless, jobless or hopelessly underpaid.

    In fact it seems to be true that all this debt is about enslaving people and countries to financial institutions, and wealth accumulation having become far more reliable than manufacture as a source of revenue. I would guess that there is far more debt in the world than a theoretical super-rich alien would be willing to pay for the world as a package deal.

  8. DH 8

    It’s annoying that people are turning this into a ‘spend more or spend less’ issue. It’s never about how much the govt spends, it’s all about the quality of the spending. The way some on the left are talking you’d think that the govt just needs to borrow more, spend heaps, and all will be well with the world. It’s shallow thinking that detracts from the real problems.

    It’s not that this govt is being austere, it’s that they’re spending the money badly which results in cuts having to be made on other fronts. The highways of notional insignificance is a prime example. It’s plain bad spending. The money should be spent on something else like a big housing boost that will help train more tradesmen for ChCh, ease the housing problem & take the pressure off rising rents that are killing the poor.

    IMO The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

    • Vicky32 8.1

      The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

      Seriously, what makes you think it’s ‘spend more’? That’s just a right wing belief…

      • Carol 8.1.1

        Indeed, it sounds a lot like the “borrow and spend” misinformation that Key & co keep repeating that Labour & Greens plan.

        Whereas, NAct has been practicing, and planning to, borrow, cut and hope while siphoning off finds to the private sector, especially the already wealthy and/or powerful e.g. by adding in ticket-clipping, price-raising, middlemen and competition for prisons, electricity, water etc, etc…

        • DH 8.1.1.1

          Carol & Vicky. The original post says that cutting spending has a negative social outcome. Now unless they approve of that negative outcome they must therefore be implicitly demanding; “don’t cut spending”. That equates to spending more. You can argue the rights & wrongs of it, you can bitch about it, it is still spending more. Unless of course they can show some equivalent savings elsewhere in the budget to pay for it. Which they haven’t.

          As for links, you’d need to follow the wider debate on it Carol. It’s not a hard picture to build up. The Herald for example has had Hazeldine & Gould pushing for stimulus spending instead of austerity. They’re both old guard left, both call for more govt borrowing and more spending. We’re not borrowing enough according to them, we’re only up to $30odd billion in hock.

          • DH 8.1.1.1.1

            And by the way folks; the opposite of austerity is spending… anyone complaining about austerity must by default be clamouring for more spending. I’d assumed everyone must realise that. Perhaps not.

            • Carol 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Please, Mr DH, don’t presume to tell me what debates I have not been following. I certainly have read some of Bran Gould’s recent writings. Here,for instance, he outlines selective spending, balanced with policies to raise the funds in which to do this.

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10788648

              Here he argues that the so-called “market solutions”, PPPs etc., result in
              more government spending in the long run, while also siphoning off funds to private entities:

              http://www.bryangould.net/id210.html

              But a moment’s thought would suggest that this is unlikely to be the case. The cost of financing a project will be the same in principle, wherever the funding comes from. While the initial capital cost, under a PPP, is borne by the private investor, that investor will want to cover the cost of capital and in addition earn a return on capital (or profit) over the lifetime of the scheme –typically, 25 or 30 years. Not surprisingly, in countries like the UK where such schemes were pioneered two or three decades ago, recent impartial research has shown that they often cost the taxpayer more over the whole period than if they were built and funded by more conventional methods.

              The truth is that the main function of PPPs is to provide, through infrastructure projects, secure and profitable investment opportunities for the government’s friends in the private sector, while ensuring that the greater cost of funding the projects in this way is spread forward over decades to be borne by future taxpayers.

              And unlike your characterisations of the left being into reckless, unfocused spending, Gould argues for spending being balanced with debt and the raising of funds.

              http://www.bryangould.net/id169.html

              Governments can choose to focus on cutting spending, or they can try to increase revenue. These further economic shocks show that, in focusing exclusively on cutting spending, they have made the wrong choice.

              The problem is that the level of debt is a function of the level of economic activity; the higher the level of economic activity, the more buoyant the government’s tax revenue. A government that has trouble in balancing its books in a recession, and that seeks to deal with that issue exclusively by cutting its spending, necessarily reduces the level of economic activity and – by depressing its tax revenue – makes the debt problem more difficult to resolve.

              So, DH, you may have been following these debates, but you are not representing them accurately.

              • DH

                Sure I am. Gould is saying the govt needs to spend more. That’s what stimulus is. We’re running a deficit so we don’t have the money to spend, we’d need to borrow it. Now while he’s confident all his grand schemes would work there’s no guarantees, they’re unproven, and we could end up mired in even more debt with a reducing tax take and no way out of a very deep hole.

                Before the Nats got in and blew our budget out of the water stimulus spending was a viable option. We had little debt, we could afford to borrow & spend wisely in order to stimulate the economy where it was needed. Now we’re facing a far more difficult scenario. The interest bill on this govts borrowing alone is costing nearly a $billion more per year, we can’t afford the grandiose schemes that carry a high risk of failure (such as printing money). Blow it again and we’ll be saying hello third world.

                • Carol

                  DH, you’re now changing your argument. First you said that the left shouldn’t be spending more, but spending wisely.

                  It’s pointed out that the left does have plans for spending wisely, so you drop thatpart of the argument, now you just focus on the “spending more” part of the argument.
                  If you had followed Cunliffe’s plan during the last election, you would have seen that, in the long term, Labour’s plan was to run a similar deficit to National in the medium term, and then to have less debt in the long run.

                  Gould also talks about ways to raise the necessary revenue, including ways other than borrowing.:

                  http://www.bryangould.net/id169.html

                  Governments can choose to focus on cutting spending, or they can try to increase revenue. These further economic shocks show that, in focusing exclusively on cutting spending, they have made the wrong choice.

                  You only seem to be focusing on as much of left wing arguments as you can get away with in order to make your point.

                  Not tried? Actually, the left take a lot of their guidance for dealing with a recession, from what was done during the 1930s recession.

                • Carol

                  And as the respected economist, Joseph Stiglitz argues, one of the ways to raise funds when there is a lot of debt, is to raise taxes.

                  http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NE10Dj01.html

                  Stiglitz thinks they are right to be. Time and again, he comes back to one basic point: Austerity is not the answer. “No large economy has ever recovered through austerity. Growth won’t come just from austerity, nor just from structural reforms,” he says.
                  […]
                  In most of Europe it’s a different picture, however, because of borrowing constraints. What then? Raise taxes, says Stiglitz. “The view that you should not increase taxes is just wrong.” He says governments should implement the tax hike and then spend the proceeds on high-return investments. “Then the net effect is to stimulate the economy and create employment.”

                  NZ, compared with other OEDC countries has quite low taxes. And a lot of the reason our current government has increased its debt, is because it lowered taxes for higher income people…. just at the time when it couldn’t afford to. And as the Independent article I linked above said, the wealthy in the UK increased their wealth by the same amount as the debt increased – so, the wealthy are much better positioned to face some austerity, than the rest of the population.

                  But of course, “austerity” currently is being enforced for those least able to deal with it. The “age of austerity” means jam today for the wealthy, austerity for the rest, with a promise of jam tomorrow for the many … but, evidence of neoliberalism shows that once the wealth has been moved upwards, it never does “trickle down”.

                  Also the NZ government has spent money bailing out the wealthy & in return for law changes to suit big corporates.

                  If your asking for evidence the left approach will work? Well, as Stiglitz argued, we have plenty of evidence that austerity doesn’t work. The early 20th century new deal and welfare state policies are a guide to an alternate way to respond to a recession.

                • Carol

                  And for more on what some lefties say, take a look around at some of the discussions on the Standard…. here for instance, where Descendant of Smith argues for increasing taxes:

                  Open mike 18/05/2012

                  Or at some of the views on threads like this:

                  Poor people NIMBY

                  • DH

                    “DH, you’re now changing your argument. First you said that the left shouldn’t be spending more, but spending wisely.”

                    I’m just trying to stay on topic & avoid thread drift Carol, I’d be happy to debate economics with you but that wasn’t the point of discussion. When you take an everyday word like austerity & use it as a catchcry you send a message whether intentional or not. If I criticise being austere it must follow I advocate the opposite, which is spending. I might not mean that, but it is the message.

                    As to whether austerity is good or bad, it’s subjective isn’t it. If this Govt instead placed a total ban on the use of outside consultants, or forced down the bloated salaries of civil service mandarins, or shut down the quangos hiring their mates on cosy sinecures, all in the name of austerity, well then austerity wouldn’t be so bad after all would it.

                    I guess it’s more the blanket use of the term, and the way it’s turned into a bit of a political rallying cry, that I dislike because IMO it sends the wrong message. It becomes an all-enveloping ideological stand whereby everything austere must be bad. That leads further to the creation of a left/right schism in people’s minds where the right are austere & the left must therefore be spenders.

                    And just to set one thing straight. When I refer to the left in this kind of context I’m talking about those who purport to represent us, not the ‘left’, so I’d ask that people don’t presume I’m attacking them. We all want similar things here, we just have differing ideas on how it might be achieved.

    • Half Crown Millionare 8.2

      IMO The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

      They do

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      The way some on the left are talking you’d think that the govt just needs to borrow more, spend heaps, and all will be well with the world.

      Governments should never borrow money, they should just print it and then adjust taxes to prevent excess money in circulation and excess accumulation.

      It’s shallow thinking that detracts from the real problems.

      The real problem is capitalism and that’s not being addressed at all.

      IMO The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

      That’s what the left tends to do, even Labour (which is a centre-right party) does that. It’s the radical right (National, Act) that spends badly.

  9. Carol 9

    The way some on the left are talking you’d think that the govt just needs to borrow more, spend heaps, and all will be well with the world. It’s shallow thinking that detracts from the real problems.

    Where do lefties say this? Evidence, please?

    Most of what I read from the left is about how the government is borrowing heaps, cutting revenue by bad taxed policies, and cutting much needed public sector jobs and services to make up for it. – as was discussed on this thread for instance:

    The only growth industry

    • DH 9.1

      That’s what the whole austerity argument is about Carol. The people who dreamt up the ‘austerity’ jargon are the same ones who push for stimulus spending. They don’t say ” we could spend less here and more there..”. They just want more spending without offering any ideas on where the money is going to come from.

      • Carol 9.1.1

        Links, please?

      • Carol 9.1.2

        The term “austerity” in it’s current political context is partly attributed to David Cameron – that particular “jargon” came from the right not the left.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_austerity

        The term “Age of Austerity” was popularised by British Conservative leader David Cameron in his keynote speech to the Conservative party forum in Cheltenham on 26 April 2009, when he committed to put an end to years of excessive government spending.

        There are a range of policies that have been advocated by the left, including targeted spending on such things as spending on public transport, education and training etc, etc. There have been different proposals from different groups, as anti-austerity campaigns range across diverse demographics and political preferences.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-austerity_protests#Examples

        This is because they are of the sizes they are; that they cut across age groups (e.g., both students and older workers) and other demographics; that they can incorporate many different types of actions in many different segments of a given country’s economy including education funding, infrastructure funding, manufacturing, aviation, social welfare, and many many others; and that the phenomenon of austerity, when explained by itself, is inadequate to properly encompass the phenomenon of widespread opposition to it, and that opposition’s nuances and fluctuations.

  10. Fortran 10

    Love the word “Austerity”.
    Can see it being the buzzword for this year at least.
    Looked it up – “severe in self discipline”.

  11. Murray Olsen 11

    Key’s tax gift to the rich could be rolled back without borowing a cent. NAct’s mantra seems to be borrow and spend on our rich mates. Their cutting of public services usually end up with more money going to consultants, so that’s borrow and give to their rich mates again. Shearer has plenty of economic ammo – whos’s advising him not to use it?

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    This week we moved into the second half of 2020 - and our Government delivered another week of big changes and major progress for New Zealanders. Read below for a wrap of the key things moments from the week - from extending paid parental leave, to making major investments in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party opposes RMA fast-track bill that cut corners on environmental safeguards and public cons...
    The Green Party has opposed the COVID-19 Recovery Fast-track Consenting Bill which shortcuts normal consenting processes under the Resource Management Act (RMA), reduces public participation and narrows environmental considerations. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Site of new freight hub revealed
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Regional Economic Development A regional freight hub for the lower North Island will be built just northeast of Palmerston North, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The Government is investing $40 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to designate and buy land and design ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens call for Guaranteed Minimum Income to alleviate skyrocketing debt with MSD
    Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson is calling for the introduction of a Guaranteed Minimum Income to lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and prevent more families entering into further debt with the Ministry of Social Development.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters: Facts matter when taxpayer money is on the line
    There has been renewed focus on New Zealand First acting as a handbrake on the Government after our decision to not support Auckland light rail. We are a handbrake for bad ideas, that is true, but our track record since 2017 has seen New Zealand First constructively also serve as an ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill raising minimum residency requirement for NZ Super passes first reading
    Mark Patterson MP, New Zealand First List MP New Zealand First’s Fair Residency for Superannuation Bill passed its First Reading in Parliament today. The Bill makes a significant change to NZ Super by raising the minimum residency requirement from 10 to 20 years, after age 20. “Currently, a migrant of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Harsher penalties for assaults on first responders one step closer
    Darroch Ball MP, Spokesperson for Law and Order A New Zealand First member’s bill in the name of Darroch Ball introducing a six-month minimum prison sentence for assaults on first responders has passed its second reading in Parliament. The new offence of "injuring a first responder or corrections officer with ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission delivers Coalition promise
    Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Deputy Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First welcomes the launch of the new Criminal Cases Review Commission, gifted with the name from Waikato-Tainui - Te Kāhui Tātari Ture, announced in Hamilton today by Justice Minister Andrew Little. “New Zealand First has long believed in and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens welcome huge new investment in sustainable projects
    The Green Party is celebrating over $800m in new funding for green projects, which will get people into jobs while solving New Zealand’s long-term challenges. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand First demands answers from Meridian Energy
    Mark Patterson MP, Spokesperson for Primary Industries New Zealand First is appalled that Meridian seems to have been unnecessarily spilling water from its dams to drive up its profits."While New Zealanders have been coming together in some of our darkest hours, we don’t expect power gentailers to waste water and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Getting New Zealand moving again: June 2020
    We wrapped up the first half of 2020 with a busy month, taking additional steps to support New Zealanders as we continue with our economic recovery. We rolled out targeted packages to support key industries like tourism and construction, helped create jobs in the environmental and agriculture sectors, and set ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori union leader appointed to Infrastructure Commission board
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Infrastructure Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has welcomed the appointment of Maurice Davis and his deep infrastructure and construction experience to the board of the Infrastructure Commission. Mr Davis (Ngāti Maniapoto), is the seventh and final appointment to the board led by former Reserve Bank Governor ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Click-bait journalism at its worst
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand’s click bait journalism is taking a turn for the worse, with yet another example of sensationalist, wilful-misrepresentation of the facts. “New Zealand First has worked constructively with its Coalition partner on hundreds of pieces of legislation and policy, and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party proposes transformational Poverty Action Plan
    The Green Party is today unveiling its Poverty Action Plan, which includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income to ensure people have enough to live with dignity.     ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF accelerates Rotorua projects
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development The Rotorua Museum redevelopment and Whakarewarewa and Tokorangi Forest projects will be accelerated thanks to a $2.09 million Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) boost, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Getting people into jobs
    This week, we rolled out the next steps of our recovery plan, with new infrastructure investment, extra support for tourism operators, and a new programme to get Kiwis into agriculture careers. The global economic consequences of COVID-19 will continue to be a challenge, but we have a detailed plan to ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Coalition commitment establishing Mental Health Commission delivered
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its final reading in Parliament today fulfilling a coalition agreement commitment. “This is an important step in saving the lives of New Zealanders and delivers a key coalition commitment ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Whakatāne gets a $2.5m ‘turbo boost’
    Whakatāne has been given a $2.5 million boost to speed up previously funded projects and create more than 450 jobs in the next decade. Of those, the equivalent of 160 full-time jobs could be delivered in the next six weeks. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is in town to make ...
    3 weeks ago
  • $2.5m PGF funding to speed up economic recovery in Whakatāne
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $2.5 million to accelerate three infrastructure projects in Whakatāne, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. “This package is about ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Shane Jones calls out those holding drought-stricken Auckland ‘to ransom’ over water
    Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones is throwing his weight behind a bid by the Auckland Council to fast-track the more than doubling of the city's water allowance from the Waikato River. And he's coming out strongly against anyone who plans on getting in the way of this campaign. "It is my ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Another Green win as climate change considerations inserted into the RMA
    The Green Party is thrilled to see changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that mean consents for large projects can be declined if they will have significant climate change implications that are inconsistent with the Zero Carbon Act and Aotearoa New Zealand’s Paris Agreement obligations.  ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Navy vessel Aotearoa to arrive in New Zealand
    Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence The Royal New Zealand Navy’s new ship, Aotearoa, set sail for New Zealand on 10 June from the Republic of Korea, and is due to arrive in Auckland tomorrow, announced Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “Aotearoa is the Royal New Zealand Navy’s new fleet ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Racing Industry Bill passes third reading
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Racing Racing Minister Winston Peters has today welcomed the Racing Industry Bill passing its third reading, creating the legislative framework for revitalising the racing industry while limiting the need for future government intervention. “For too long our domestic racing industry has ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Green Party seek amendment to ensure all prisoners can vote
    The Green Party has today put forward an amendment to the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill to ensure all people in prisons can vote in general elections. ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Wellbeing infrastructure for Kaipara
    A package of wellbeing infrastructure investments in Kaipara which focuses on improving the lives of the elderly and upgrading the iconic Kauri Museum has been announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today. “These shovel-ready projects will have significant benefits for their respective communities and I’m pleased this funding ...
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    6 hours ago
  • More support rolls out for SMEs
    More support is rolling out for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the COVID Response and Recovery Fund, to help them adapt and innovate to deal with the impact of the virus. The Ministers for Economic Development and Small Business have announced a further $40 million for the Regional Business ...
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    7 hours ago
  • District Court Judge appointed
    Stephen Clark, Māori Land Court Judge of Hamilton has been appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Hamilton, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Judge Clark graduated with an LLB from Auckland University in 1988 and was admitted to the Bar in the same year. ...
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    1 day ago
  • Hawke’s Bay Airport agreement protects jobs, safeguards terminal development
    The Crown will provide a loan to Hawke’s Bay Airport to ensure it can trade through COVID-19 economic impacts, support the region’s recovery and protect up to 200 jobs. The Crown has a 50 percent shareholding in Hawke’s Bay Airport Limited (HBAL), with Napier City Council holding 26 percent and ...
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    1 day ago
  • Funding boost for four cultural events
    Four celebrated Māori and Pasifika events will receive up to $100,000 each in funding from the new Creative and Cultural Events Incubator fund, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford announced today. The four events that were successful in the inaugural funding round are: Kia Mau Festival, Wellington Māoriland Film Festival, Otaki ...
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    1 day ago
  • Inaugural launch of Kiribati Language Week
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio is pleased to announce the inaugural launch of Kiribati Language Week as part of the 2020 Pacific language Weeks programme. “I am so pleased that this year we are able to provide resourcing support to the Kiribati community in Aotearoa which will ...
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    3 days ago
  • New support package for wildlife institutions
    Wildlife institutions affected by a loss of visitor revenue during the COVID-19 lockdown are set to receive government support with nearly $15 million of funding available announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.  “Eco-sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and wildlife rescue, hospital and rehabilitation facilities provide crucial support for the recovery ...
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    3 days ago
  • 300,000 students to benefit from free mental health services
    The Government is expanding and accelerating frontline mental health and wellbeing services at tertiary education institutes (TEI) to help students manage ongoing stresses related to COVID-19. “The lockdown has been hugely disruptive for students. Many of them have had to relocate and move to online learning, isolating them from their ...
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    3 days ago
  • Gang crime, meth harm targeted in Waikato
    The Minister of Police says a major operation against the Mongrel Mob in Waikato will make a big dent in drug harm and violent offending linked to organised crime networks. “Senior leadership of the Waikato Mongrel Mob has been taken out as a result of Operation Kingsville, which resulted in ...
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    4 days ago
  • Supporting victims and families to attend mosque attack sentencing
    The Government is extending the border exception criteria to enable some offshore victims and support people of the Christchurch mosque attacks to attend the sentencing of the accused beginning on 24 August2020, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. “We want to support our valued Muslim brothers and sisters who were directly ...
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    4 days ago
  • Boost for community freshwater restoration projects
    A project to support volunteer efforts to look after streams and rivers is getting a boost thanks to support from DOC’s Community Conservation Fund announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today.  “The government is backing efforts to look after waterways with $199,400 for the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust from ...
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    4 days ago
  • More support for women and girls
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter today announced that funding for the COVID-19 Community Fund for women and girls will be doubled, as the first successful funding applications for the initial $1million were revealed. “Women and girls across the country have suffered because of the effects of COVID-19, and I ...
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    4 days ago
  • Crown accounts stronger than forecast with higher consumer spending
    The Government’s books were better than forecast with a higher GST take as the economy got moving again after lockdown, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Crown Accounts for the 11 months to the end of May indicate the year end results for tax revenue will be stronger than forecast. ...
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    4 days ago
  • Govt releases plan to revitalise wool sector
    A plan to revitalise New Zealand’s strong wool sector and set it on a new, more sustainable and profitable path was unveiled today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. The newly-released report - Vision and Action for New Zealand’s Wool Sector - was developed by the Wool Industry Project Action Group ...
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    4 days ago
  • Funding for Predator Free Whangārei
    Community efforts to create a Predator Free Whangārei will receive a $6 million boost, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. The new funding, through Government company Predator Free 2050 Ltd, will create around 12 jobs while enabling the complete removal of possums over ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Zealand to review relationship settings with Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that the New Zealand Government is reviewing the settings of its relationship with Hong Kong. “China’s decision to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong has fundamentally changed the environment for international engagement there,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand remains deeply ...
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    5 days ago
  • Funding for Whangārei’s infrastructure projects revealed
    Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced details of a multimillion-dollar investment in Whangārei for infrastructure projects that will help it recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 200 jobs are expected to be created through the $26 million investment from the Government’s rejuvenation package ...
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    5 days ago
  • Managed isolation and quarantine update
    Following a second incident in which a person escaped from a managed isolation facility, security is being enhanced, including more police presence onsite, Minister Megan Woods said. “The actions of some individuals who choose to break the very clear rules to stay within the facilities means that more resourcing is ...
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    5 days ago
  • Funding for Kaipara district community waste programmes
    Waste reduction and recycling programmes in Kaipara are set to get a boost with Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage today announcing a $361,447 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) Sustainable Kaipara. “The new funding will allow Sustainable Kaipara to partner with local schools, kura, community ...
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    5 days ago
  • Government will support the people and economy of Southland
    The Government will support the Southland economy in the wake of multinational mining company Rio Tinto’s decision to follow through with its long signalled closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. “This day has unfortunately been on the cards for some time now, but nevertheless the final decision is a ...
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    5 days ago
  • New transformational tools for the Predator Free 2050 effort
    New tools being developed to help boost Aotearoa’s Predator Free 2050 effort were unveiled today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. A new rat poison, a camera with predator recognition software to detect and report predators, a new predator lure and a ...
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    5 days ago
  • New Armoured vehicles for New Zealand Army
    The Coalition Government has approved the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles to replace the New Zealand Army’s armoured Pinzgauers, Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced today. The new fleet of 43 Australian-designed and built Bushmaster NZ5.5 will provide better protection for personnel and improved carrying capacity. “The age ...
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    6 days ago
  • Community-led solutions to prevent family violence
    The Government’s three prevention frameworks to reduce family violence in Aotearoa were launched this week by Associate Minister for Social Development Poto Williams.   The frameworks were developed in partnership with communities around New Zealand, and build on the work the Government has already begun with its new family violence prevention ...
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    6 days ago
  • Govt confirms investment in better radiology and surgical services for Hawke’s Bay
    The Government is pleased to confirm funding for improvements to radiology and surgical services at Hawke's Bay DHB, Health Minister Chris Hipkins says.     "The Minister of Finance the Hon Grant Robertson and former Health Minister Dr David Clark approved funding for Hawke's Bay DHB’s redevelopment of their radiology facilities ...
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    6 days ago
  • Specialist alcohol and drug addiction services strengthened across New Zealand
    •    New funding for four beds at Napier’s Springhill Residential Addiction Centre •    A new managed withdrawal home and community service, and peer support before and after residential care at Tairāwhiti DHB  •    A co-ordinated network of withdrawal management services throughout the South Island •    Peer support in Rotorua and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Coastal Shipping Webinar
    Introduction, seafarers and POAL Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be online with you all today. Before I begin, I have to acknowledge that COVID-19 has disrupted the maritime sector on an unprecedented scale. The work of seafarers and the maritime industry is keeping many economies around the world ...
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    6 days ago
  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
    A $13 million investment from Government will create jobs and improve the resilience of the rail connection between Christchurch and the West Coast, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau say. The funding comes from the tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure projects ...
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    6 days ago
  • Major investment in safe drinking water
    The Government is investing $761 million to assist local government upgrade under-pressure water services across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  The announcement was made at the site of the water bore that was found to be the source of the fatal ...
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    6 days ago
  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
    Recognised Seasonal Employers and migrant seasonal workers stranded in New Zealand will be able to continue working and supporting themselves with more flexible hours and roles, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The time-limited visa changes are: Stranded RSE workers will be able to work part-time (a minimum of 15 hours ...
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    6 days ago
  • Relief for temporary migrants, employers and New Zealanders who need work
    The Government is making immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while also ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. We are: Extending temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020 ...
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    7 days ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
    Professor Peter Skelton CNZM has been appointed as Chief Freshwater Commissioner and Alternate Environment Court Judge Craig James Thompson as Deputy Chief Freshwater Commissioner for the newly established Freshwater Planning Process (FPP). Environment Minister David Parker today also announced the appointment of Chief Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook as the ...
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    7 days ago
  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
    Auckland Queen’s Counsel Neil Campbell has been appointed a Judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced today. Justice Campbell graduated with a BCom and LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 1992. He spent two years with Bell Gully Buddle Weir in Auckland before travelling to the United ...
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    7 days ago
  • Feedback sought – Commercial Film and Video Production Facilities
    The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal to better enable the development and operation of commercial film and video facilities in Christchurch. The Proposal, developed by Regenerate Christchurch in response to a request from Christchurch City Council, asks that powers under section ...
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    1 week ago
  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
    The Government has launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today released Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential, a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value ...
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    1 week ago
  • Wellbeing of whanau at heart of new hub
    A new approach to prevent family harm that encourages greater collaboration across government and community groups is being celebrated at the opening of a new facility in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today opened the Multi-Disciplinary Family Harm Prevention Hub Te Taanga Manawa in Lambie Road in Manukau. The facility ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Report on Auckland Port Relocation
    The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. “That decision needs to be informed by policy analysis that is still to be completed. As a result it will be up to a ...
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    1 week ago
  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
    The history of Rāpaki is being restored through the inclusion of te reo in thirteen official place names on Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula and around Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō, the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, announced today.   “I am pleased to approve the proposals from Te Hapū o Ngāti ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
    Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan Woods.  “Last week Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I ...
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    1 week ago
  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
    Grant Robertson has today announced the first major release of funding from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced at Budget 2020.  “Today we’re setting out how $80 million will be invested, with $54 million of that over the 2020/2021 financial year for organisations from community level through to elite ...
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    1 week ago
  • Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022
    The Government is maintaining current levy rates for the next 2 years, as part of a set of changes to help ease the financial pressures of COVID-19 providing certainty for businesses and New Zealanders, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “New Zealanders and businesses are facing unprecedented financial pressures as a ...
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    1 week ago