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English’s big promises proven hollow

Written By: - Date published: 9:25 am, December 16th, 2009 - 26 comments
Categories: bill english, economy, unemployment - Tags:

An extraordinary moment in Question Time as John Boscawen skewered National’s hollow promise to close the wage gap with Australia by 2025. Watch the video and listen to Bill English’s voice. He was simply left high and dry when Boscawen asked him for some actual evidence that the gap is going to close:

Boscawen: By how much does New Zealand’s annual GDP growth rate need to exceed Australia’s to achieve the Government’s concrete goal of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025, and do Treasury’s 2010 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update forecasts, released today, indicate that the Government’s economic plan will achieve the required rate over the next 5 years?

English: The growth rate needed to close the income gap by 2025 would be 1.8 percent per capita income growth higher than Australia’s. Today’s forecast does not indicate that the plan will achieve that rate over the next 5 years.

That followed English making hugely exaggerated claims about the improvement in the economy earlier in Question Time: “The forecasts also show that the economy has lost fewer jobs than was anticipated in the Budget by a figure of around 80,000.”

‘Sh!t, 80,000’ I thought, ‘that sounds like a lot, too much’. So I did what you always have to do with each claim this government makes – I checked the facts.

what unemployedThe Budget forecast was that 189,000 people would be unemployed in March 2010. The new projection is that unemployment will be 181,000. So, not 80,000 – 8,000. It can’t be that English misspoke, he wouldn’t have been skiting over 8,000 jobs. Our Finance Minister is so out of touch he really thought the number was 80,000. Still, what’s 72,000 Kiwis that don’t have jobs after all?

26 comments on “English’s big promises proven hollow ”

  1. Ron 1

    More likely he just lied. That’s been their modus operandi up until now.

  2. prism 2

    Our growth rate follows Australia’s trend line, only further down the graph. Always has, always will. (Any difference to that statement is a short-term exception).
    We could grow if we had some good businesses producing things not just fast money private equity types and financial and housing speculators.
    And how much NZ investor money has got frittered away, wasted over the years through dodgy financial deals leaving people out of pocket? It happens everywhere but we’re too small for it not to impact. This must surely be included in calculations of macro national productivity.
    If we put the effort in to saving spending by reforming and reframing our prison system, making the Corrections Department live up to its name, setting up investment bonds or something of that nature for high risk, promising, rising stars of businesses, we might get the country moving nearer to Australia.
    But what the hell is the problem – people have always gone to Oz, I did and came back, family has gone there and stayed. Where being served up a problem that deflects our attention from the important goal of making our own country’s standards right, not eternally enviously staring at others. I thought it interesting that some financial type Brierley was it? has finally shifted to Oz. He sold his NZ house which had been named Vaucluse! That’s an area of Sydney or Melbourne. So even while he was here he wasn’t thinking NZ.
    Professional people could be required to repay part of their student loans or start automatic payments if its return of education loans that’s the problem. We could have more people tied by bonds, as in the old teacher system, to help in areas where we have trouble with recruiting.

  3. ben 3

    Well I’m pretty sure the goal will not be achieved with even more tax and regulation. So what solutions do the Left have?

    What’s ironic is that Ireland has achieved exactly the sort of catch up that NZ is now talking about, yet this time yesterday Marty you were bagging them, too. What exactly does it take to make you happy?

    • snoozer 3.1

      It was National that promised to catch Australia, ben. Where is their plan? You can’t demand an answser from us.

      Ireland was a house built on sand, their economy has fallen 11% over the last two years.

      They got rich on billions of EU money and used their wealth to put in place neoliberal reforms. Now those reforms are haivng to be unwound very quickly as the economy meltdown

      Hardly a success, ben.

      But that doesn’t stop you blindly spouting your ideology, an ideology that doesn’t society’s interests or even serve your own interests, only those of the rich.

      • ben 3.1.1

        Yawn, more ideology. Ideology has nothing to do with it. Ireland is still way ahead of where it was, relatively and absolutely, before takeoff. That is still a massive success, and the change is palpable on the street. If Ireland falls all the way back to where it started, or where it would have been absent reform, you’ll have a point. Something like 3/4 of their gains have not been undone by the current recession. Ideology has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    • Clarke 3.2

      Given that New Zealand’s corporate and personal tax rates are already lower than Australia’s, and our compliance and regulatory environment is already easier for business – and this has been true for a number of years – how come we haven’t passed Australia already?

      Could it be that your simplistic analysis fails to get to grips with the true differences between the two countries?

      • ben 3.2.1

        I’m analysing nothing. I haven’t said Ireland policy would work here. I have said I do not believe higher taxes and more regulation will work – we are already at the top end of taxes in the OECD. Please stop putting words into my mouth.

        • Clarke

          we are already at the top end of taxes in the OECD

          I’m calling bullshit. Post a link and prove your point with some actual data.

          • ben

            I stand corrected. New Zealand is mid-table, behind most European countries and the UK, although quite a lot higher than Australia. link, figure 6. I must admit, I thought total crown spending of 46% of GDP would put us near the top, but the Europeans spend more, apparently.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Figur 6 is government expenditure as a proportion of GDP. Perhaps you meant figure 8?

              Actual tax to GDP has decreased over the last decade or so.

        • fraser

          “I’m analysing nothing”

          thanks for clearing that up 🙂

  4. rainman 4

    Does anyone know, for the unemployment stats, are these calculated from number of people on an unemployment benefit, or from payroll (+/- staff numbers) returns? I know lots of cases where a couple were both working, and one has lost their job, but their earnings from the one still working mean they’re ineligible for any WINZ assistance. Are these people being counted in the stats?

    • snoozer 4.1

      The Household Labour Force Survey surveys something like 17,000 people. If you say you worked 1 hour or more in the last week (or something like that) you count as employed.

      captcha (honestly) – jobs

      • rainman 4.1.1

        Ah, thanks for that. Suppose that accounts for why Sep 09 unemployed is around 150k and UB numbers around 60k.

        • snoozer

          yeah. You can’t get the UB if your partner’s income is over a certain amount or you don’t meet other tests (and it takes weeks to get on it anyway) but you can be unemployed.

          NZ has one of the lowest rates of unemployed people getting the benefit – only 30-odd percent. In Ireland it’s more like 80-odd %.

  5. Clarke 5

    It was hilarious watching Guyon Espiner on One News last night admit that neither he nor Bill English could do basic maths.

    He put the projected figure of 124,000 unemployed on the screen, then the revised Treasury figure of 60,000, and claimed that the difference was 84,000! They finished the cut-away to the Powerpoint, he had to admit that the figures were wrong, and then proceeded to blame Bill English for supplying him with the wrong numbers.

    If you wanted graphic evidence of the fact that Espiner is a National Party lap-dog, here was unequivocal proof. I would have thought that even a second-rate journalist would have challenged English’s credibility if he couldn’t even get the headline numbers right, but not our compliant little Guyon. He probably got a pat on the head from Bill for being a good little puppy at the end of the clip.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      So Guyon received this from Bill at some point, decided to use it live on-air and didn’t bother to check it first? That’s very trusting of him.

      • Richard 5.1.1

        Given that Espiner delivered this urgent and groundbreaking report LIVE! from parliament grounds, I guess that he relayed via cellphone the details of what English said to some minion back at the studio. And then the minion dutifully put this onto Espiner’s powerpoint slides.

        Clear evidence that TVNZ minions at all levels are not paid to think when they receive instructions from their master (of course, this applies to both Espiner and his powerpoint drone).

        • Clarke

          Yes, it’s a bit alarming that – given all the links in the chain between Bill’s press conference and my telly – none of them are prepared to stand up and say “but the numbers don’t add up …. “

          • felix

            At every one of those links in the chain, the entire focus of attention is on style, presentation, tone, delivery, message etc.

            There are simply no resources allocated to focusing on facts, numbers, logic, or accuracy.

            This is the media in what is known as “the information age”.

            • Richard

              Yes, if the media is the message then the message is:

              “we think you are stupid”.

              • Jim McDonald

                Welcome to the Brave New World of a Manufactured Chain of Puppets

                . . . . .

                Whither art thou, Master?

    • BLiP 5.2

      Welcome to “churnalism”, everybody.

  6. randal 6

    I havent checked the oecd rankings lately but according to finaly macdonald recently in the SST Australia is ahead of Germany and Spain.
    I dont thnk New Zealand is ever going to surpass those economies let alone achieve the same mineral extraction rates from the GAFA.
    (airline pilots slang for the ‘great australian f*ck all’).

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