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Experts: National lying over ACC

Written By: - Date published: 11:27 am, March 12th, 2009 - 46 comments
Categories: ACC, national/act government, privatisation, spin - Tags: , , ,

The wheels are starting to come off National’s PR campaign to undermine ACC as more and more people notice the gap between their spin and the reality.

This morning’s Dom Post has an interesting article [offline*] where the managing director of actuaries Eriksen & Associates refutes Nick Smith’s lies about the “cost blowout” and the corporation being insolvent.

Here’s the money quote from John Eriksen:

“All this talk of liabilities being blown out is complete nonsense. It’s ill-founded scaremongering, which, given the current economic picture, is the last thing people need to be told.

“All this nonsense is easily explained. Assets have basically dropped in value, helped in no small part by the collapse of the markets. But the ACC has also taken a hit on the liabilities side. So, on paper the losses have ballooned, when in reality there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Eriksen also added that new international accounting standards had made a difference because the new discount rates had added billions of dollars to ACC’s liabilities, when in truth that might not be the case.

If Nick Smith were honest he’d apologise for lying to the public, reinstate Ross Wilson and cancel his plans to cut services and hand ACC over to the private insurance industry. But somehow I can’t see that happening.

* Business section, C1.

46 comments on “Experts: National lying over ACC”

  1. IrishBill 1

    He was still peddling the “blow-out” line on morning report today. The man has no shame.

  2. roger nome 2

    Hah – no surprises here. I hope David Farrar over at kiwiblog posts an apology to his readers for his deceptive posts about the ACC “cost blow-out” as well. Somehow i can’t see that happening either though.

  3. Kevin Welsh 3

    This is all well and good, but do you seriously expect the MSM to give this any traction?

    • IrishBill 3.1

      From Christchurch Press Political Editor Colin Espiner:

      Rather than inventing a financial crisis at ACC, just admit there’s too many unionists on the board and you want to take the corporation in a different direction.

      • Kevin Welsh 3.1.1

        And from Colin Espiner no doubt. Duncan Garner latching on to this like a pit bull? Maybe if it was pie flavoured.

      • BLiP 3.1.2

        Colin Espiner:

        On this one, personally I’m with Smith.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    So far as lies about ACC goes, what about Labour’s promise before the election to reduce ACC charges? Given the knowledge they had prior to the election, it is hard to see this promise as nothing other than a blatant lie.

    • Kevin Welsh 4.1

      Did you even READ the above story?

      Or do you just automatically go straight to the schoolyard whine?

    • Matthew Pilott 4.2

      As I was saying to Tim Ellis yesterday, you could easily reduce levies. You’d only increase them if you’re National and you want to make people dislike ACC by making them fund more of ACC now than is required to make up for an asset-based non-operational shortfall.

  5. cha 5

    Heh, pointed Farrar to the article this morning, so far no reply.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Kevin “Did you even READ the above story? Or do you just automatically go straight to the schoolyard whine?”

    So, do you deny that Labour told lies about ACC then?

    So far as the article is concerned, I heard Tony Joyce commenting on this on ZB the other day. He agreed that overseas investments HAD dropped significantly. However, he also made the good point that costs had risen 60% in recent times, and therefore, the losses in the investments meant that the increased costs were not affordable over the long term.

    • Ari 6.1

      Sadly, opposition promises that can’t be easily met can’t really be evaluated as to whether they’re “lies” or not, as you need to know what position the government as a whole would be in if their policies were more generally implemented, and whether this would give them the room to meet their promises.

      Seeing as we have a National/Act/United/Maori government, those are the promises we can evaluate.

    • BLiP 6.2

      Has Joyce got the official statistics to back this up . . . hmmm

    • Kevin Welsh 6.3

      “All this talk of liabilities being blown out is complete nonsense. It’s ill-founded scaremongering, which, given the current economic picture, is the last thing people need to be told.

      In case you missed it the first time. Pretty much makes the rest of your argument redundant.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Ari “Sadly, opposition promises that can’t be easily met…”

    Has to be the understatement of the year given the actual state of ACC that Labour was aware of when making the promise! Anyway, Labour was in government when they promised to cut ACC levies, not in opposition as you suggest.

    • Ari 7.1

      Why are we still even talking about the last term of government? Yes, it’s bad they didn’t meet their promises, but given that they improved cover and efficiency I doubt you’re going to hear too many complaints on Labour’s record with ACC, especially after what National’s up to.

  8. Tim Ellis 8

    It is not true that ACC’s problem lies simply with a fall in asset values and accounting changes.

    In several areas ACC treatment costs have risen to alarming levels. Physiotherapy is a key example. The move to free physiotherapy visits has seen costs rise from $58 million a year in 2004 to a projected $225 million a year in the next two years. Those costs were not properly forecast by ACC.

    ACC performance indicators including rehabilitation rates, costs per treatment, costs per entitlement claim, return to work rates, and the number of long term claims have all worsened significantly over the last three years. This is the key driver of increased cost and liabilities in ACC, independent of changed accounting standards and income from ACC assets.

    Labour went into the election knowing that to implement a fully-funded model by 2014, as has been provided for in legislation since 1998, would require a dramatic rise in ACC levies across the board, in order to fund existing entitlements. They knew that in order to fund existing liabilities would also require major levy increases in most instances, and major government injections of cash in the case of the non-Earners’ account. They sat on these figures and then promised a reduction in ACC levies.

    If you want a case of true lying about ACC, you can look no further than Maryan Street and Michael Cullen.

    There seems to be a meme going around about how this is some big conspiracy within National to talk down ACC to shore it up for privatisation. That is just nonsense. ACC can’t be privatised while retaining the no-fault 24-hour cover that are at the core of the scheme’s principles. Labour knows this yet continues to raise the red herring of privatisation to distract from its own dishonesty over ACC.

    • BLiP 8.1

      They’ll privatise those chunks of ACC that Key’s mates can profit from and leave the rest to be funded by the tax payer. Its all about privatising profit and socialising debt. They tried it last time they were in Govetnment. Have a read of “The Commercialisation of New Zealand” if you want the details.

      • Tim Ellis 8.1.1

        BLiP, which chunks of ACC are you referring to?

        There is no cross-subsidisation of ACC accounts. The only account that can be opened to competition is the Employers’ Account. At present it only collects enough levies to pay for existing costs and fully-fund costs of injuries.

        The taxpayer doesn’t currently extract a profit from the Employers’ account. How do you mean “privatising profit”, when the Employers’ Account doesn’t currently deliver a profit?

        • DeeDub 8.1.1.1

          Jeez, Tim how disingenuous!?!

          You know very well HOW they will take the Employers account and make it profitable. Or do you not understand how the insurance industry works?

        • Ari 8.1.1.2

          Simple, keep all the costly parts in the ACC program, and all the profitable bits will be privatised off while insurers queue to buy them up. Then when costs of ACC still stay huge they have an excuse to snip the agency back or even turn it into SOE that acts like a private insurer. Yuck.

          National is making a poorly-hidden grab at the idea of socialised insurance instead of just being honest and open about its policies.

          • Tim Ellis 8.1.1.2.1

            Ari, what do you mean, “profitable bits”?

            There aren’t any profitable bits of ACC. None of the ACC accounts is in surplus. None of them cross-subsidise any of the accounts. None of the risk categories cross-subsidise each other.

            I hear this time and time again, along with the “National just wants to privatise all it can”, but I’m afraid even by scratching a little bit into the argument it just doesn’t stack up.

    • Matthew Pilott 8.2

      We went over this fairly comprehensively yesterday, Tim, and there’s still no evidence that levies would need to go up. I’m not sure what you consider an ‘alarming’ level of anything, nor if it is an objective term or if you’re just being…alarmist.. Where is the evidence that entitlements and payments require an increasing levy?

      I doubt there is any evidence, becaue if there was surely Nick Smith would give it to us instead of lying by saying that to fund ACC we’d need to increase levies by hundreds of dollars (pretending that a small sohrtfall is in fact $20 billion or whatever untruthful level he stated on National TV), when that would only serve to cover for paper losses in the ACC fund. Labour knew that, even if you refuse to accept it, Tim, and make your own assumptions in lieu of evidence.

      The reason for this ‘meme going around about how this is some big conspiracy within National to talk down ACC to shore it up for privatisation’, as I explained to you yesterday is that Nick Smith is blatantly lying about the real costs necessary to fund ACC. Smith and National are making New Zealanders pay more for ACC because National wants people to dislike it – there is no operational requirement to increase levies.

      You said yesterday that National have said they support the core principles of ACC – their actions show otherwise, and very clearly. As I also said yesterday – I believe National are lying when they support those principles, which is why you can’t point to a single National MP who would prefer ACC to a private insurance system, or the right to sue.

      They are needlessly and callously undermining the system, and there’s only one good reason for that – unless you want to give me another reason why we’re all going to pay increased levies when we don’t need to.

      • Tim Ellis 8.2.1

        Matthew wrote:

        We went over this fairly comprehensively yesterday, Tim, and there’s still no evidence that levies would need to go up. I’m not sure what you consider an ‘alarming’ level of anything, nor if it is an objective term or if you’re just being alarmist.. Where is the evidence that entitlements and payments require an increasing levy?

        That isn’t true Matthew. Government policy changes extending entitlements have loaded hundreds of millions more costs onto ACC in the last couple of years. That is alarming in my view.

        Secondly there is much evidence that levies would need to go up to pay for existing entitlements. Government made a policy decision in 1998 to fully-fund the whole cost of ACC costs in the year they are incurred. This was adhered to by Labour. There was a 16 year timeframe for moving to a fully-funded system.

        Why is this important? Because if you don’t fund the costs of treatment at the time they are incurred, you are passing that cost onto future generations of levy-payers. It achieves the very opposite of what the Super Fund is designed to do for superannuation. Nick Smith’s data on levy projections were the levy rates needed to be charged to meet the fully-funded commitment so that ACC levy-payers pay the actual costs of their injuries.

        • Ari 8.2.1.1

          Give us a figure for the shortfall. If you want to be really clever, give us two figures, one that discounts any one-off costs this year, and we’ll see whether you actually have anything to be “alarmed” over.

          Saying the costs are going up by hundreds of millions doesn’t matter if it’s already well-funded for the long-term trend.

          • Tim Ellis 8.2.1.1.1

            It isn’t “well-funded for the long-term trend”. ACC has never been fully-funded. Until 1998 it was a “pay-as-you-go” basis. All that does is pass the cost of injuries onto future generations. It is the very opposite of what the Super Fund has tried to achieve.

    • Adam 8.3

      Um, ACC has been privatised before by National when it was last in government – just months before the last Labour government come to power.

      Seems they’re just picking up where they left off.

  9. Bill 10

    Unfortunately we have TVNZ news reporting the ACC situation as one where $1.5 b (or whatever) was invested last year and lost and the same for the year before.

    In other words instead of news, we are being told that Ross Wilson and the board took $1.5 b of our money last year and lost it.

    It’s not even misinformation because it is way beyond any semblance or definition of information in the first place.

    Wish I could find the link to it. (TVNZ 6 O’Clock news this week sometime if you feel able to hunt their site.)

    Anyway, the point is that the majority of people are forming their perceptions from TV news or from others passing on their perceptions based on TV news on the rare occasions that politics enter into conversation…tit-bits here and snippets there. (As an aside. How can politics be discussed if there is no info to base the discussion on? If all there is is a vague amorphous ‘feeling’ around, what arguably should be, pertinent issues?)

    And a consistent shaping perception is all that’s needed in a world where information is old hat : where manipulating perceptions at an emotional level has replaced attempts to relay information.

    Pravda and TASS come strongly to mind, although they didn’t have their techniques any where near as well refined as this lot of corporate propagandists we are dealing with.

    With Pravda and TASS, a person could read between the lines, but in the media that the majority of us are exposed to and pay any attention to, there are no lines any more….nothing to read between.

    Insofar as corporate media go hand in glove with right wing policy…I’ve forgotten my example, so I’ll throw this out instead. No big fan of Obama, but ever wondered why he only got 52.9% of the vote? How McCain came so close in what should have been a ‘no contest;?

    Or, closer to home, why is Labour gone from government here? I’d argue it’s simply because we were told, through the manipulation of perceptions, we had had enough. No other reason.

    And ACC will go. And private prisons will be built. And the list will grow and grow and the majority will acquiesce because melded perception rather than informed opinion is the order of the day.

    I know this has all been expressed before on the Standard. It’s worth the repeating though given that this whole ACC malarkey.

    • higherstandard 10.1

      “Or, closer to home, why is Labour gone from government here? I’d argue it’s simply because we were told, through the manipulation of perceptions, we had had enough. No other reason.”

      The only study of MSM I’ve seen of reporting leading up to the election suggests that Labour and HC received more positive reporting from the MSM than National and JK there for I’m dubious of your claim.

      • @ work 10.1.1

        That study only covered 6 weeks.

        • higherstandard 10.1.1.1

          Do you have data that shows something different ?

          • @work 10.1.1.1.1

            No, I’m just saying you’ve left out the fact that it covered 6 weeks, which is quite relevant. Do you have anything that shows that it is apropriate to extrapolate the last 6 weeks of coverage out to the entire election campaign?

          • higherstandard 10.1.1.1.2

            I think it’s appropriate to note the results of this study as being supportive of a position that the MSM did not manipulate the NZ public to bring about a change in government – unless you take the view that they were overwhelmingly positive and manipulative prior to those six weeks and then did an about face just to confound everyone.

            If people keep blaming the MSM for what was far and away the largest MMP majority ever achieved, and a high result even in FPP terms there’ll be no lessons learned by the opposition parties.

  10. toad 11

    Tim Ellis said: How do you mean “privatising profit’, when the Employers’ Account doesn’t currently deliver a profit?

    Because what is being proposed is not full privatisation of the Employers’ Account Tim, but privatisation by stealth of the profitable part of it. Private insurers will compete with ACC for workplace accident insurance business. They will grab the profitable businesses where risk can easily be minimised, leaving ACC to cover the ones where it can’t.

    Result: Levies will reduce for those with private accident insuramce but will have to increase for those left with ACC that the private insurers don’t want. Then more grand pronouncements from politicians on the right about how well the private sector has done compared to the public.

    • Pascal's bookie 11.1

      Exactly.

      Tim’s had this pointed out before but he just keeps going on about gold plates and what not.

      I think his agitpropticopter is stuck.

    • Tim Ellis 11.2

      Toad, I think you have misunderstood the concept of actuarial risk. Group actuarial risk is applied both at ACC and in insurance companies to determine premia. There is a high degree of cross-subsidy within individual actuarial-based risk categories (in fact it is all about cross subsidies, as all claims are cross-subsidised by premia within the risk category), but there is almost nil cross-subsidy across risk categories. That’s how actuarials function, and ACC’s actuarials are no different from any other insurance company.

      To give a specific example, Forestry Company A with the same risk profile as Forestry Company B ends up cross-subsidising Forestry Company B, when there is a claim for an accident in the workplace. ACC charges forestry employer levies at a substantially higher rate than it charges banks. How much more do forestry employers pay? Pretty much the entire risk in the actuarial category.

      It simply is a nonsense that there are “easy pickings” in the ACC Employers’ account that are ripe for extracting profit, or are more profitable for competition, leaving the prospect of the state carrying the can for non-profitable risk categories in the Employers’ account. Furthermore, at present large employers effectively contract out of ACC and substantially carry their own risk and self-insure through the accredited employers’ scheme.

      The operation of the Employers’ account is the least contentious part of ACC. With some glaring exceptions, It is mainly around the entitlements and operations of the Earners’ and non-Earners’ accounts, which constitute the major bulk of ACC claims and costs, which has gone far removed from a no-fault 24-hour scheme where the government needs to direct its attention in my view.

  11. bill brown 12

    It can be flown and get stuck what is it?

  12. Gareth 13

    For an online article outlining the same thing: Brian Follow in the Herald.
    “For the Government to wrap legitimate concerns about slippage in ACC’s performance in a whole lot of shrill scaremongering and scapegoating is gratuitous.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501241&objectid=10561167

  13. keith 14

    Who’s seen the six o’clock news about Nick Smith barging uninvited into a meeting the ACC board were having? After his gate crashing he then tried to answer questions directed to the CEO which brought an end to the meeting. What a wanker.

  14. killinginthenameof 15

    I think talking down then cutting physio has been in the pipe line for quite a while, A few months ago I had the displeasure of spending time with a young idealistic tool who works for the business round table and is a walking pr line dispenser, He spent the whole time getting into discussions with people about ACC, then bringing it around to talking about how crap and useless physio is.

    Another thing I noticed over at kiwiblog is some of them were trying to pin it all on cyclists (I assume just to be anti environmental, anti green) but anyone who’s visited a hospital emergency department on a weekend, knows that they are absolutely over flowing with rugby players. John Key would be very very unwise to mess with rugby.

  15. John Dalley 16

    “If Nick Smith was Honest” ha ha ha ha & ha.
    Nick Smith is being so dishonest that it actually show up instantly he opens his mouth.
    I said it on another post but i think John Key is already losing control of the more radical older members of his cabinet. This is what i thought would probably happen with his inexperience as a politician starting to catch up. Can’t wait to see the next polls, bet Nationals lead drops dramatically.

  16. r0b 17

    Can’t wait to see the next polls, bet Nationals lead drops dramatically.

    Don’t pin your hopes on it, I think it’s more likely that National will cruise high in the polls for quite some time. They get a honeymoon, the media are in no shape to do the job of holding them to account as they should (the “reporting” of this ACC situation is a case in point), so the honeymoon will chug along with considerable inertia.

    Sadly, it won’t be until too many people’s live have got inexorably worse and worse that they will wake up and realise (without the media’s help) just exactly what this Nat government is made of. Then you’ll see a shift in the polls.

    Why do we always have to learn the hard way?

    • Draco T Bastard 17.1

      It’s difficult to learn the easy way when the information you’re receiving has been doctored to ensure you get the wrong idea.

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    . . Lock Down: Day 2 – A photo essay with observations . March 27 – Day 2 of our Strange New World. The Park and Ride near my suburb, usually filled with hundreds of vehicles, had just… four; . . Another drive into Wellington City on a highway nearly ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    5 days ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    5 days ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    5 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    5 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    6 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    6 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
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    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    7 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    7 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    1 week ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    2 weeks ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    2 weeks ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
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