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Colin, I missed you

Written By: - Date published: 11:17 am, January 28th, 2010 - 44 comments
Categories: business, education, Media, tax - Tags:

Colin Espiner’s back with his first blog of the year. It’s so much fun having him back. In his first outing, he comes up with four suggestions for government action in the year ahead. Since the government doesn’t seem to have any other ideas, let’s look at two of them:

End interest-free student loans
Yeah, let’s put tertiary education out of the reach of tens of thousands of young people every year. That’s the way to build a high skill, high wage economy. If my loan had borne interest I would have been forced to take any job I could find, placing salary ahead of career development, and wouldn’t have been able to travel. In fact, I probably would have just skipped the country rather than start my working life trying desperately to pay off the interest. That’s what my older sister did because the crippling debt left her with no choices in New Zealand.

With interest on loans it takes so long, even on a good salary, to clear the loan that you’re well into your thirties before you can even look at saving up to buy a house. Meanwhile, the baby-boomers, who got their education free, are buying up all the houses and you end up with a less educated, property-less generation. Nah, good idea, Colin. Well thought out.

Stop those earning over $100,000 claiming Working for Families payments.
Bill English famously said of WFF: “Don didn’t understand it, neither did John, actually”. Seems Colin still doesn’t.

So I’ll go through the simple mathematical conundrum again. If we want WFF to provide a decent tax credit to families and have a shallow abatement rate so that taxpayers don’t face too high marginal tax rates (remember, the Right really hate them because they disincentivise working more) then small payments are going to continue until relatively high incomes. The only solutions are: reduce the payments for everyone (the baby & bathwater solution), increase the abatement rate across the board (which will really get the righties’ knickers in a twist and any economist will tell you is a bad idea), or have an abrupt cut-off which is seriously dumb. For example, if you cut off WFF at $100,000, a family with three kids would lose $988 a year in tax credits when their income goes from $100,000 to $100,001. They really would be better off working less. Got to remember those perverse incentives, Colin.

Nothing is perfect. The negative side-effect of having a few well-off families getting WFF (if I remember right it was 1,000 families getting $1 million in total) is outweighed by the negative effects of preventing it – this was considered when the policy was designed, after all.

Now, to be fair to Colin his silly suggestions did arise from a serious observation:

No, I’m starting to think it’s our prime minister who has his work cut out this year. When even the Right-leaning business publication the National Business Reviewstarts telling National to get on with the job, you know that the tolerance of National’s natural constituency for its steady-as-she-goes approach is coming to an end….there’s a difference between planning things and actually implementing them, and that’s going to be the litmus test of this administration this year. In 2009 Key proved himself to be a political manager almost of Helen Clark’s calibre. In 2010, we’ll get to see whether he can match her in getting things done as well

The Right and the Left disagree completely on most issues in terms of what we think the government should be doing. What no-one wants is a do-nothing government that spends half its time on holiday and the other half in photo ops. But that’s the government we’ve got.

44 comments on “Colin, I missed you”

  1. fizzleplug 1

    I think that re-introducing interest on student loans at a rate less than the market rate would be a good idea. Obviously retain the higher rate for those who head offshore (as it is currently) to offer an incentive to work here for a bit.

    • Bright Red 1.1

      why is making tertiary education more expensive a good idea fizzleplug?

      It’s easy to say ‘x is a good idea’ but it’s meaningless if you can’t say why.

      • fizzleplug 1.1.1

        Re-introducing interest is an incentive to pay it off faster, which reduces the cost on the government. Which is the point I was making.

        I agree that the old interest rates were far too high.This isn’t about making education more expensive, but rather having people take some responsibility for what they have borrowed without crippling them like the old rates did.

        • Bright Red 1.1.1.1

          But it will make education more expensive. That’s what putting interest on things does.

          • fizzleplug 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes, and why is this a bad thing? It is no less accessible as the loans still exist and any can apply for them. A (very) small portion of the cost being pushed on to the consumer is not a bad thing at all.

            The whole point of tertiary education is so that you can have better job opportunities, and earn a higher income than those without it. Which allows you to meet the cost of your loans (with interest) much easier than those who don’t have the better paying job.

            • Richard 1.1.1.1.1.1

              The whole point of tertiary education is so that you can have better job opportunities, and earn a higher income than those without it.

              So a tertiary education is a sort of “earning potential” power-up?

              I think this is a naive, childish, and problematic view of what tertiary education is.

              • fizzleplug

                How do you view tertiary education if not a method of bettering yourself through learning? I would hope that a flow-on effect from the educational betterment was an “earning potential powerup” as you so gracefully put it, but you never know, some people might see tertiary education as an escape from reality (ah, the lifetime students. How fondly I remember them).

              • BLiP

                Perhaps its not just about the individual. A society where a greater proportion of its members is well educated is better able to work towards solving its problems in a cooperative and sustainable manner. A society where most of its members remain uneducated is more vulnerable to exploitation by a ruling class and/or outside influences.

              • Richard

                How do you view tertiary education if not a method of bettering yourself through learning? I would hope that a flow-on effect from the educational betterment was an “earning potential powerup’ …

                “Bettering yourself” sounds much more reasonable, than your earlier definition.

                I don’t think it follows that being “better” means you necessarily have the capacity to earn more. Although admittedly there is a correlation of sorts between education and income. Even if becoming “better” does result in a higher income potential, I don’t think that is the most interesting or important way that people “become better” by receiving a tertiary education.

                Earning more money is not the “whole” point of tertiary education, at the very best it is merely a minor part of it.

            • Bright Red 1.1.1.1.1.2

              “Yes, and why is this a bad thing?”

              Because we want a more educated workforce and society, fizzleplug.

              If you think back to Form 4 economics you’ll remember that as prices rise demand falls.

              • fizzleplug

                Assuming, of course, that tertiary education follows the same models as a standard consumer product.

                Tertiary education is at some of the most expensive levels it has been, yet demand is sky high.

              • PT

                if you did form 5 economics instead of form 4 red youd learn abotu market elasticity

  2. the sprout 2

    Re. ending interest free student loans

    can anyone with a technical understanding of contract law tell me if a government can start charging interest on a loan that was taken out on the understanding that it’s interest free?

    i would have thought you couldn’t retrospectively alter the conditions like that?

    • fizzleplug 2.1

      Existing loans went to interest free, so I would assume they can go the other way as well. Not 100% sure though.

      • the sprout 2.1.1

        no i doubt they can go either way without expressed consent.

        changes that advantage the party without consent (ie. removing interest) yes, but not changes that add interest without consent.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.2

      For example, if you cut off WFF at $100,000, a family with three kids would lose $988 a year in tax credits when their income goes from $100,000 to $100,001. They really would be better off working less. Got to remember those perverse incentives, Colin

      I don’t really buy this argument. Folks tend to take tax and suchlike into account when negotiating those sort of salaries, surely?

      And even though a 1% salary raise will leave you not much better off, it’s also not usually enough to change jobs for, all else being equal.

    • Bright Red 2.3

      I wouldn’t have thought it was a contract law issue.

      Retrospective legislation that disadvantages someone who acted in good faith is meant to be a constitutional no-no though (not that thre’s any legal check on doing it anyway).

      More importantly, it’s political suicide when there’s several hundred thousand (500,000?) young people with loans, many of whom, being too young to remember the 1990s, fell for Key’s aspirational smile and voted National..

    • felix 2.4

      Did somebody say retrospective?!?

    • Rob Carr 2.5

      They can legislate anything they want to. It would need to be legislation though. I am fairly certain they cannot change the loan from interested free to interest. Banks aren’t allowed to increase your rate on loans if you agree to fixed rate so why should a government department. They can of course start charging people halfway through their university so they pay interest on half their loans but not the first half.

    • Richard 2.6

      I think that parliament *could* pass legislation that retrospectively charged interest on formerly free loans.

      However, I think that even the most rapid user-pays sorts of politicians are likely to think that is a bad idea, if only because of the resulting bad press / diminished re-election chances. But you never know, I guess.

      • Bright Red 2.6.1

        *rabid*

        • Richard 2.6.1.1

          Thanks, yes, I meant “rabid”.

          Although “rapid” ones, as in “as soon as we seize control of parliament we should implement all the policies that no one likes, because they will have forgotten that they hate us by the next election” would probably go for it too.

    • Lanthanide 2.7

      Hopefully this will end up high enough that it will cut off this ill-informed line of reasoning.

      Student loans are interest bearing. What they give you is an *interest write-off if you live in NZ for 181 days out of the year*. You are still being charged interest, but it is automatically written off for you. There is nothing in the contract that says “you pay 0% interest”, so there is no contract law problem here. The government can just decide to stop writing the interest off.

      Frankly I think it is very likely that the government is going to be heading in some direction to putting interest rates onto student loans, probably not until after the 2011 election if they win it. They have recently introduced the 10% early repayment bonus, so clearly they’re giving people an incentive to pay off their loan through early/additional repayments. I can’t help but think that with the carrot, there must come a stick.

      I would guess that National are going to bring back interest on student loans after a 5 year interest-free period, and use the 10% early repayment bonus as their fig-leaf for why this is an acceptable change to make. It would certainly shore up the government accounts by bringing in extra revenue.

      • the sprout 2.7.1

        i think just in terms of the fair trading act that there would be a case to be made to say there is a reasonable expectation of behalf of the borrower that the loan carries no interest, regardless of accounting terminology, considering at the time of introduction the lending government talked about no interest on student loans and borrowers have never paid interest on those loans.

  3. Armchair Critic 3

    “i would have thought you couldn’t retrospectively alter the conditions like that?”
    I don’t think so either. Burt knows all about this retrospective stuff, can’t wait for his thoughts.

  4. Spyro 4

    I graduated in 1999 having borrowed $46k over 8 years of graduate and postgraduate study. By the time I graduated it was $60k with the interest charged while studying. It grew annually every year after that, as the amount I could afford to pay never covered the ever-growing interest

    I have been paying it off for 10 years, started at $100 a week and now $250 a week and I still owe $11k. I have only made inroads to paying back the principal since the interest was taken off. I never had any spare money to pay back those wonderful ‘lump sum payments”

    This is not the way to encourage bright professional NZers to stay in a country with low wages. If i could have gone I would have gone years ago, and I probably wouldnt have come back.

    Interest free loans when working in NZ is the only incentive to stay for many. Reintroducing interest would be a very backward step.

    I’m looking forward to paying off my stend loan sometimes in the second decade of payment

  5. Spyro 5

    Reintroducing interest is no incentive to pay it back faster when you have a limited fixed income and responsibilities. People have all these great ideas about ‘incentives’ and how happy people will be to pay off their loans faster. Yay!

    Real world? Lots of people have limited choices.

    There’s no incentive there, just disadvantage for working here on half the money you could get in Aus

    • logie97 5.1

      @ fizzleplug – John Key has already admitted that higher earners have work-arounds when it comes to paying their dues.

      Putting interest back on to student loans will again be a big hit to many families.

      John Key’s mates who have learned to work around the taxes have also managed to work it so that their children get student allowance as well (because they pay themselves a nominal salary – low enough to qualify for student allowance).

      So middle income PAYE families will get a double whammy.

      • fizzleplug 5.1.1

        Those on salary and wages have no workaround when it come to repaying student loans. They are deducted from gross pay.

        The fascination with assuming everyone who has a trust is John Key’s mate baffles me – I have a trust, but I don’t earn enough to pay the top personal tax rate, and definitely aren’t his mate. Also, I think that you will find it is now much easier to get a student allowance than it used to be 10 years ago. I know this because I didn’t qualify for an allowance due to my parent’s income (even though they paid themselves a nominal salary and kept most profits in the business – business income was taken into account) yet people now qualify when their parents earn a shitload (to keep it statistical). The threshold has been raised nicely, and blaming it all on John Key and National is a bit rich.

        Middle income PAYE families wouldn’t notice any change to their take home pay. The repayment level would remain the same, but interest would be applied against the loan at a below-market rate (and as pointed out earlier, not credited back at the end of the year). Your “big hit” wouldn’t be noticed in the day-to-day lives of anyone with a student loan.

        • logie97 5.1.1.1

          It is anticipated that people read the comments before submitting diatribe. What did my last line say?

          PAYE Families I said. We happen to consider our children our family and WE took the hit because we have had to dip further to help pay them out. (Glad some families can buy all the capital items against the business by the way… fuel for the cars, entertainment and the rest.)

          • fizzleplug 5.1.1.1.1

            What? I addressed your PAYE family comment. There is no change to take home pay. There is no increase to university fees. There is no increase in repayments at all. I can’t see the double whammy you mention. Maybe I’m blind, or maybe you aren’t explaining yourself very well.

            If you help your children pay off their student loan, then you definitely aren’t a standard family (if that’s what you mean). Your snide comment at the end shows your ignorance on a lot of things too. You must hate all small business owners struggling to make a living (see, I can make snide comments too).

            • logie97 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Some families’ combined incomes take them just over the threshold for student allowance. (Modest family circumstances and not getting WFF either but valuing their children’s education.)

              Therefore interest on students loans plus their non entitlement to student allowance is a double whammy.

              Bear no grudge towards small businesses. Get hacked off though when I know that some have manipulated their incomes so that they qualify for such allowances. Also when they claim against the business such things as car, fuel, clothing allowances etc. When they are economical with the truth and feel they have the moral high ground when it comes to commenting on blogs.

              • fizzleplug

                Businesses can only claim the portion of the car that is used for business purposes, which applies to fuel also. No clothing except uniforms can be deducted for tax purposes (in a lot of circumstances, even protective clothing isn’t covered, such as work boots and thick socks). A portion of home expenses can be claimed as a business expense, but only if there is a definable space that is used for work purposes (such as an office or area with a desk set up – the kitchen table and laptop don’t count). Are you aware of the rules around expense deductibility, or do you just think that everyone does what you have outlined?

                You have still failed to explain why interest on student loans is a hit for a family. The cost of the upfront fees won’t increase. The amount of repayments won’t increase (unless income also increases). The availability of tertiary education would not decrease as a result of a below-market rate interest charge. However it would ease the burden on the Government.

                I agree that student allowances should be more readily available, but living costs can be claimed by anyone (and added to your loan).

  6. prism 6

    What would be so wrong for those on $100,000 moving to $101,000 to lose nearly all the increase because of sharp cut offs in WFF marginal tax. Then they will get an idea of the everyday situation for those on benefits with families trying to raise their living income from just above their costs. Try to get ahead and some security and whammo from the government which takes most of it away – they regard any payment from the public purse as extreme charity. Who gives a hoot about beneficiaries and what positive advances they are trying to achieve.
    Don’t give a hoot, just give them the boot – that ‘s the catchphrase for the uppers.

  7. Matthew 7

    “Yeah, let’s put tertiary education out of the reach of tens of thousands of young people every year”

    That is a completely indefensible statement. You only have to make repayments after studying, and even then minimum repayments are based on your earnings not the loan principal. The government is not going to seize your assets if you cant repay. It is more like a progressive tax than a debt.

    It may discourage some people from studying as the costs begin to outweigh the perceived benefits. But is that so bad? Plenty of people do well without tertiary education. And as for the ‘public good’ argument, tertiary education is already massively subsidized in any case.

    “With interest on loans it takes so long, even on a good salary, to clear the loan that you’re well into your thirties before you can even look at saving up to buy a house.”

    What rubbish. I had an above average sized student loan when I left uni, and got a job in a mid level (as far as pay goes) profession. Loan was paid off by the time I was 23 (before interest free student loans post-uni), and I and my partner had saved enough to buy a house by the time we were 25. Now at 28 we are already a third of the way through paying the mortgage off.

    • Bright Red 7.1

      Matthew. If you are 28 now that means you studied when loans were interest-free while studying. That’s why your loan was so small. /facepalm

      And it sounds like you had a pretty tiny loan if you were able to pay it off in a couple of years. So I suspect you had some assistance and didn’t need to borrow the max like most students, especially those from low income backgrounds.

      If you get a medical or engineering or law degree or a double degree rather than a BCom (i’m guessing) you have to study four years at least. If you have to borrow your total fees and take the living costs loan too you’re looking at over $10,000 a year of study.

      So, you’re walking out with $40,000 at least, a big amount to pay off. Now, imagine if that loan had been taking on interest (they taught you about interest in Bcom didn’t they?) for those four years plus you were studying. Prety quickly you’ve got $50,000 and more to pay off, and interst is going on it all the time.

      Of course the prospect of facing that kind of debt turns people off uni.

  8. Spyro 8

    10 years and counting….

    Not all students are 23 and free of responsibility.

  9. Matthew 9

    Bright Red.

    Yes it was interest free while studying. It was more like 20k and it was a 4 year degree (engineering). I didn’t just sit around and do nothing other than study. If I had accrued interest while studying it would have been <5k and so not material when it comes to my future prospects of home ownership.

    But even if it was 50k and interest bearing, there is no reason why someone couldn't pay that off in 4-5 years by repaying say $15k a year. So by your mid twenties you are debt free with a degree largely subsidized by the taxpayer.

    • Bright Red 9.1

      None of us sat around on our arses after studying. When are you righties going to get it into your head that not being rich doesn’t mean you’re lazy?

      “there is no reason why someone couldn’t pay that off in 4-5 years by repaying say $15k a year.”

      The average full-time wage in New Zealand is $44,000 gross. Most graduates don’t start out on the average wage. Let’s say you’re lucky enough to start out on $40,000. Post tax that’s about $34,000. You’re saying that a person should live on $19,000 a year to pay off their student loan in 5 years, and they’ll have to because otherwise the interest will keep on building.

      And what if you can’t get a job? What if you are unlucky enough to graduate in the middle of a recession? The interest just keeps on building whether you can pay or not.

      Maybe you can see now that putting interest on loans is going to discourage a lot of people from studying. A lot of people are going to look at the choice of studying on a poverty income for 4 years then spending another 5 years living on $19K if they’re lucky enough to get a job or working a lower-skill job not much over minimum wage and decide they’ll be better off going straight into the workforce.

      And that is the problem with it if we want a more educated workforce and for people not to skip the country.

  10. Paul Williams 10

    Cost is undoubtedly a barrier to participation in higher education, particular for low socioeconomic and otherwise disadvantaged students (NZ, Australian and international studies broadly agree on this). However, income-contingent loans do ameliorate this barrier to an extent. Economists will argue, narrowly, that so long as there is an internal rate of return (IRR) which is comparable with other investments, then fees/loans etc are not necessarily iniquitous. They’ll also argue that an overly generous scheme will unduly distort behaviour and, potentially, have high dead-weight costs ie. not realise additional enrolments.

    I think it’s wrong to entirely dismiss these arguments without fully considering them. If the goal is to extend access, a social equity/mobility objective, then there might be alternative uses for this funding and/or amendments that could increase its effectiveness with unduly burdening students.

    Unfortunately, the policies adopted by the last National government led to unjustifiably high fees and unsustainable debt. The changes implemented by Labour, particularly regulation of fees and capping and targeting funding, improved the balance between public and private costs and benefits.

    Another way to frame this issue is to consider financing in light of a plan to increase participation/attainment generally.

    • BLiP 10.1

      unduly burdening students

      . . . aren’t they all unduly burdening in their own little ways 🙂

      But, yeah, like your thinking. How about bonding graduates in return for a portion of their loans?

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    The End of Life Choice Bill passed its third reading last night, 69 - 51. Thanks to a compromise with NZ First - which looks to have been necessary on the final numbers - the commencement of the bill will be subject to a referendum. Given the ugliness of the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on
    Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1] Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    5 days ago
  • Class, Identity Politics and Transgender Ideology
    by Deirdre O’Neill Under Thatcher and then Blair and continuing up until our contemporary moment, the working class has seen its culture slowly and progressively destroyed. The change from an industrial society to a service society produced a marked shift in focus from the working class as the backbone of ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Irony
    Since 2013, the Australian government has detained refugees without trial in Pacific gulags, where they are abused, tortured, and driven to suicide. The policy is not just an abuse of human rights and possible crime against humanity; it has also had a corrosive effect on the states Australia uses as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • An age of protest.
    It seems fair to say that we currently live in a problematic political moment in world history. Democracies are in decline and dictatorships are on the rise. Primordial, sectarian and post-modern divisions have re-emerged, are on the rise or have been accentuated by political evolutions of the moment such as ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Another captured agency
    Last month, Greenpeace head Russel Norman surrendered his speaking slot at an EPA conference to student climate activist Sorcha Carr, who told the EPA exactly what she thought of them. It was a bold move, which confronted both regulators and polluters (or, as the EPA calls them, "stakeholders") with the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • NZ First’s dodgy loans
    The core principle supposedly underlying New Zealand's electoral finance regime is transparency: parties can accept large donations from rich people wanting to buy policy, but only if they tell the public they've been bought. Most parties abide by this, so we know that TOP was wholly-owned by Gareth Morgan, and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: The choice on End of Life Choice
    Today is a Member's Day, probably the second-to-last one of the year, and its a big one, with the Third Reading of David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. last Member's Day it was reported back from committee, after MPs voted narrowly to make it subject to a (rules TBA) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • How growth in population and consumption drives planetary change
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz The growth of the human population over the last 70 ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • The disappearing Women …
    by The Council of Disobedient Women In her excellent oral submission to the Abortion reform select committee on 31st October on behalf of Otago University’s Department of Public Health, historian and public health researcher Hera Cook stated: “We would ask that the committee not use the term ‘pregnant persons’ and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • “A Passage to India”: enduring art in changing times
    by Don Franks In 1957, E M Forster wrote, of his greatest work: “The India described in ‘A Passage to India’ no longer exists either politically or socially. Change had begun even at the time the book was published ( 1924) and during the following quarter of a century it ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • Contemptuous
    The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from select committee today. But there's no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn't bother to produce one. They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    7 days ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
    Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately, NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    1 week ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
    There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    1 week ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
    Since becoming the world’s first openly transexual mayor and member of parliament, Georgina Beyer has been recognised as a trailblazer for trans rights. Daphna Whitmore talks with her about where she sees the current trans movement We start out talking about legislation the government put on hold that would have ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    1 week ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    1 week ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    1 week ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    1 week ago
  • 1000 of these now
    Some days I sit and think, “what will I write…?” What do you say when you get to 1000 posts? Maybe you just start where you are, diverge to where this all began, then offer a collection of reader’s favourite posts, and a few of your own? (And throw in ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
    Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.SHANE ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
    Yesterday, when National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill, I predicted they'd gut it the moment they regained power, just as they had done to the ETS. And indeed, they have explicitly promised to do exactly that within their first hundred days in office. What would their amendments do? Abandon ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let this never be forgot
    In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.
    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
    Collision Course? In conditions of ideological white-out, the international bankers’ “Woop-Woop! Pull Up!” warning may have come too late to save global capitalism.WHAT DOES IT MEAN when international bankers are more willing to embrace radical solutions than our politicians and their electors? At both the International Monetary Fund and the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
    Pertussis (whooping cough) is a conundrum. It is a disease that was described hundreds of years ago and the bacteria that causes it (Bordetella pertussis) isolated in 1906. We have had vaccines for about 80 years but this disease is defiant in the face of human immunity. I wanted to ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
    The Zero Carbon Bill has just passed its third reading, uanimously. In the end, National supported it - but we all know they'll turn around and gut it the moment they regain power. Meanwhile, I guess ACT's David Seymour didn't even bother to show up. I am on record as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
    Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
    When the Police were trying to cover up for the National Party over Dirty Politics, they went all-in with their abuses of power. They illegally search Nicky Hager's house, violating his journalistic privilege and invading his privacy. They unlawfully acquired Hager's bank records. They did the same to left-wing blogger ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Britain’s climate tyranny was unlawful
    Last month, in response to a wave of protests by Extinction Rebellion, the British government purported to ban their protests from the whole of London. It was a significant interference with the freedoms of expression and assembly, and another sign of the country's decline into tyranny. But now, a court ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • More crime from the spies
    Last year, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security reported on significant problems with the intelligence warrant system. While they were unwilling to declare any warrant "irregular" (meaning unlawful) due to the recent law change, they were also not willing to give the system a clean bill of health. Now, they've ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Vaccination, compulsion, and paternalism for the lower orders
    The National Party has come out in support of encouraging greater vaccination uptake. But it sure isn’t the way I’d do it. National’s suggested docking the benefits of those on benefit whose kids aren’t keeping up with their vaccinations. Some in National have suggested extending that to payments under Working ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Protests Rage On: But Slogans Are Not Plans.
    Feeding The Flames: It is simply not enough to demand an end to “corruption”, or “inequality”, or the overbearing influence of the authorities in Beijing. These are just “lowest common denominator” demands: the sort of slogans that pull people onto the streets. They are not a plan.WHERE’S THE PLAN? Across ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 11,000 employed under Labour
    The labour market statistics have been released, and unemployment has risen to 4.2%. There are 115,000 unemployed - 11,000 fewer than when Labour took office. In that time the minimum wage has gone up by $2 an hour, which shows that the right's fears about increases causing unemployment are simply ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Boycott this democratic fraud
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has called for submissions on Andrew Little's tyrannical Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill. Normally I encourage participation in the democratic process. I am not doing so in this case. Instead, I encourage all of you to boycott this submissions process, and to post ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz If tiny concentrations of carbon dioxide can hold enough heat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Ban private jets
    Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and within it, one of the fastest sources is elite travel: billionaires flitting around the world in their private jets, spewing excessive pollution into the atmosphere just so they can avoid mixing with us dirty peasants. But in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Untold Suffering
    That's what we face if we don't stop climate change, according to a warning from 11,000 scientists:The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists. “We declare clearly and unequivocally ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The left and violent misogyny
    by Phil Duncan Here’s just a few of the kind of threats issued day in and day out against gender-critical women – feminists, marxists, etc – overwhelmingly by MEN (albeit men identifying as women). “Kill all Terfs”. “Shoot a Terf today”. “All terfs deserve to be shot in the head”. ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and the iPhone
    This is the third of the synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016). The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Unlike the humble cup of coffee and t-shirt that we looked at in ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The freshwater mussel housing crisis: eviction by invasive weeds?
    Tom Moore Traditionally a food source and cutting tool, freshwater mussels/kākahi are now widely valued as water filters that help clean our waterbodies and maintain ecosystem health throughout Aotearoa. The improvement they provide in water quality can make it easier for other animals to live in streams and rivers, as ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago

  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    21 hours ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    1 day ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    5 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    6 days ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Closer cooperation with Korean horse racing industry
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Racing Racing Minister Winston Peters met with Korea Racing Authority Chairperson Nak Soon Kim in Seoul today to discuss closer cooperation between the New Zealand and Korean horse racing industries. As part of the visit to the Seoul Racecourse, Mr Peters witnessed ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Otago to lead digital creativity
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10 million to establish Otago as the centre of New Zealand’s creative digital industry over the next ten years, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “The initiative will bring us closer to the vision of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Young Otago students encouraged to take on forestry careers
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)’s skills and employment programme will help young Otago people into long-term forestry careers, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Te Ara Mahi will invest $63,000 in the 2020 school year to support eight 17 and 18 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF backing Dunedin’s waterfront ambitions
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will support local plans to revitalise and stimulate economic development opportunities in Otago, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The four Regional Economic Development Ministers have approved an in-principle investment of $19.9 million towards the region’s ...
    3 weeks ago

  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
    The Government is building special housing to accommodate one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga- our kaumātua, says the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Speaking at a National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference in Rotorua today, the Minister reinforced the importance kaumātua play in maintaining and passing on mātauranga Māori, knowledge, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Forestry helps prisoners into jobs
    Eleven men from a pilot forestry training programme for prisoners in Northland now have full time jobs or job offers upon release, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced today. The ‘release to work’ programme was a collaboration between Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Reform of public service a step closer
    Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today introduced into Parliament a Bill that will make it easier for the public service to tackle the biggest challenges facing Governments. The Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Donations scheme to relieve pressure on families
    The families of more than 416,000 students will be better off next year as their schools have signed up to the Government’s donations scheme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The scheme will see almost $62.5 million in additional Government funding go to schools nationwide next year. “I’m really pleased ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
      Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa Thank you to the Child Poverty Action Group for asking me to be here today to provide an update on some of the things that have been happening across my the social development portfolio.  Can I firstly acknowledge the vast ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Annual Conference
    ***Please check against delivery*** Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning to open this year’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Conference and AGM. Firstly, thank you Dr Alan Jackson, NZTR Chair for your introduction. And let us acknowledge also: The NZTR Board; Dean McKenzie, Chair ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
    The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer and more secure, Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi has announced today. Both renters and landlords will benefit from the suite of practical changes to the Residential ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
         The Government is asking the food industry to step up work to tackle obesity including reducing sugar, fat and salt in their products, better information for consumers, and tighter restrictions on advertising to children. Health Minister David Clark and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor have responded to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
    ew, modern emergency department and outpatient facilities at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital mean better emergency care for the growing tourist mecca’s visitors and locals, says Health Minister David Clark. Today Dr Clark officially opened the hospital’s redeveloped Emergency Department and Outpatient facilities. The new facilities include: •    An extended Emergency Department ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter says today’s release of sexual and reproductive health data reinforces the significance of the Government’s commitment to providing free or very low-cost contraception. The Ministry of Health today published statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2014/15 Health Survey. “It is important people can make ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing further support to Samoa as it faces a worsening measles outbreak. “In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
    “The new Disability Action Plan 2019–2023 moves us towards the inclusive and accessible New Zealand that this government has committed to,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.  “The Action Plan was designed by disabled people, their family and supporters, the disability sector and government agencies. It will ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
    Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting 14 November 2019 Joint Statement 1. Defence Ministers Ron Mark and Dr Ng Eng Hen today conducted their third annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore. 2. Building on the Enhanced Partnership signed between both countries in May this year, this annual meeting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
    A Bill to improve the court system’s response to sexual violence has passed its first reading in Parliament today. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill will reduce the trauma sexual violence complainants experience in court, while maintaining defendants’ fundamental rights and making sure the trial process ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
    Streamlined payment practices are a step closer for Kiwi businesses with the formal launch of New Zealand’s e-Invoicing framework. Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says the government has now established the structure to enable automated and direct data exchange between the accounting systems of buyers and sellers. “The move to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
    Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector “New Zealand’s flora, fauna ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
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