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For whom the Toll bells

Written By: - Date published: 10:26 am, May 5th, 2008 - 62 comments
Categories: assets, economy, election 2008, Environment - Tags: ,

The Government has bought back the rail stock and ferries from Toll for $655 million.

The privatisation of these vital assets, which are also natural monopolies, by National was a disaster from Day 1. National flogged the railways and the ferries off dirt cheap to their mates who asset-stripped them by slashing maintenance and taking huge profits. As every asset-stripper knows, at some point the Government has to stop economically vital assets being degraded and that’s what happened when Labour bought back the railways and the rail stock and ferries went into the ownership of Australian-based Toll.

The situation stopped getting worse but hasn’t improved: Toll wanted to make big profits too, it didn’t want to pay for the use of the tracks, and it was tempting to direct freight away from rail to its trucking line. While the Government has poured money into improving the tracks, Toll hasn’t done its part. More and more freight is moving by road when it should be going by rail.

20 years of under-investment and greedy owners have left us with a dilapidated rail and ferry system. Now the Government owns the whole system again it doesn’t need to waste time and effort trying to get private wonders to invest; it can start to make the upgrades that are needed itself. Rail should be an integral part of our national infrastructure, especially as peak oil approaches and more energy efficient means of transport are needed (rail is at least three times more energy efficient than road).

National has said it will sell the railways now the Government owns them again (well English said that, then Key said no asset sales in a first term, so who knows where they stand). Labour will undoubtedly be planning a major investment programme. The ownership of rail and the broader issue of public assets is shaping up to be a central election issue.

62 comments on “For whom the Toll bells”

  1. Steve Pierson 1

    So happy I got to use that pic of the wee kiwi and the train again

  2. higherstandard 2

    Nice pic Steve

    Will be interesting to see the debate on this issue I’m am ambivalent about whether it’s a good or bad thing.

    As Michael Cullen said Toll had done a good job increasing freight volumes and streamlining the operation of terminals, but it had struggled to run a “commercially viable” business without government support.

    Personally I’d love to have a train system as good as those in certain parts of Europe and NZers using it more – my biggest concern is however that they won’t and the government will find it just as difficult as Toll to make it run economically – although I’d be delighted to see the opposite happen.

  3. Great stuff, does the taxpayer inherit the billion plus dollar track upgrade bill? Hell, those tracks need some big time work, ask any Coal train driver.

  4. Very good. Now we need to buy back contact energy.

    Weird captcha is “confiscate it” – I like this very much.

  5. Steve Pierson 5

    They sure do need work and that’s going to be easier to do now the Goverment owns both the tracks and the rolling stock.

    I’m not sure we can ever expect rail to be economic in itself – it is the broader benefits it brings to the economy and the enviornment that are important.

    It will be interesting to see what Natioanl has to say: English said they would sell but later Key said no asset sales in a first term

  6. Perhaps some of the more marginal long-haul passenger routes, e.g. the Southerner and Overlander could be run as an afternoon-evening service – that way tourists could hop off along the route and stay for a day at one of the many small stops.

    This move is great for regional New Zealand, increased access to passenger terminals and freight flows will give some well-paid jobs back to the regions.

    One statement I have heard today particularly sticks in my mind – in response to the criticism that the NZ Railways Corporation was used to hide unemployment – “Surely, working at the railways, even under its old guise in which it is unlikely to return to, is better than unemployment for the individuals concerned?”

  7. So Steve “not sure we can ever expect rail to be economic in itself” ? Then why are we throwing money at it? The (private) trucking companies can make a profit while paying taxes to pay for building and maintaining roads and to subsidize their unprofitable rail competition. I’m not clear how this is going to stop the free fall of our productivity statistics: http://www.interest.co.nz/ratesblog/index.php/2008/01/28/chart-productivity/

  8. James Kearney 8

    mawgxxxiv- trucks don’t pay their own way on the roads considering the damage their weight does. The rest of us are effectively subsidising them, not to mention their carbon emissions.

  9. Steve Pierson 9

    mawgxxxxiv. you could never expect a health system that delivers care to everyone regardless of ability to pay to make a profit or an education system that gives educations to all up to 16 to be profitable and yet we have those because we realise there are wider benefits to having them. It is a nonsense to look only at the profitablity of an individual piece of infrastructure when considering it’s value to the economy.

    bernard hickley’s an idiot, I won’t be turning to him for economic advice.

  10. James Kearney 10

    a partisan idiot too

  11. Ted 11

    The Government did a ripping job of maintaining the railroads last time it owned them, I can’t wait for the repeat!

  12. Tane 12

    Of course Ted, they’ll be run on an entirely different model, one proven to be far more efficient than the ‘flog it off cheap to our robber barons mates’ model favoured by the Nats.

  13. Stephen 13

    The State Owned Enterprises Act might help in this case.

  14. Susan 14

    The pun in the title pains my achy breaky heart. But the song in my head is planes, trains and automobiles. It’s just brilliant that Kiwis are getting their assets back.

    Captcha: Bowie Ministerial

    I’d vote for that.

  15. Seems crazy to me that they freight coal from one side of the South Island to the other. Build the jetty at Granity Solid Energy. Go on. I dare you? Makes sense with rising fuel costs and at that other crap!

  16. James: could you publish the link to the numbers that show that heavy trucks don’t pay their way ? If you indicating cars are cross-subsidizing trucks isn’t the simple answer to change the tax regimes on petrol and diesel so that they reflect the actual costs attributable to the two different classes of vehicle. This still doesn’t rationalize cars & trucks subsidizing unprofitable rail freight.

    Steve: the implications of the health sector analogy you are offering is that those who opt for private health care should pay an additional special tax to fund the public health care system. The public health care system (unlike public freight transport) is actually providing a service that is not entirely duplicated by the private sector so the analogy is entirely meaningful.

    Surely the only way for long distance freight trains to turn a profit in New Zealand is for the government to regulate the ability of trucks to compete. Perhaps that is next on the ‘to do list’?

    Reading the rationale for electrification of Auckland’s passenger rail network ( and the special regional fuel tax to pay for it) it is interesting to observe that the actual benefits are hard to pin down and are not quantitatively monetized http://www.arc.govt.nz/transport/rail-electrification/electric-trains-and-a-regional-fuel-tax.cfm

  17. Here is an interesting alternative to electric trains: electric trucks !!!

    “Volvo has been working on research and development of hybrid technology for 20 years. Volvo’s tests and simulations show that hybrid drive for heavy vehicles is most suitable for vehicles forced during operations to make many starts and stops, such as buses, distribution trucks and refuse vehicles. In these cases, fuel savings can be up to 35%.” http://www.gizmag.com/go/6839/

  18. Phil 18

    In order to believe that this is a good move, you have to implicityly agree that more freight should be shipped by track, and less by road, than the current ‘regieme’ produces.

    I’m not convinced this is a good idea at all.

    If you want to move freight by road, the process is this;
    Get a truck to your warehouse, put good X into back of truck, drive to destination, pull good X out of truck into destination warehouse

    on the other hand, by rail the process goes;
    Get a truck to your warehouse, put good X into back of truck, drive to rail yard (which in all likelyhood invlolves navigating city streets) take good X out of truck and put it into railyard warehouse, put good X on rail line, train goes to destination, good X comes off rail line and into rail yard warehouse. Get a truck to the destination rail yard warehouse, and drive to destination warehouse (which again probably invloves navigating city streets)

    How can this be more efficient?

  19. Ari 19

    Maw: The point is that if you did jig around the taxes so that trucks paid their fair share, then there’d simply be an increased price passed on to the consumer for goods transported by road, notably food. Now, if rail is largely more viable, that might not be a bad idea in general, but their are consequences to removing subsidies and we should consider the cons as well as the pros when we’re considering removing them.

    Whatever you set the taxes to, we’re ALWAYS going to pay a social cost for the transportation network- if we’re going to have to pay that cost anyway, why not focus on transport that hauls more people or cargo for less cost, like trains? 😉

  20. Hoolian 20

    Labour will undoubtedly be planning a major investment programme. The ownership of rail and the broader issue of public assets is shaping up to be a central election issue.

    And whose going to pay for this? How can the Govt afford to buy back rails when it won’t buy (but rather sell) electricity lines or provide tax cuts to middle-income NZ?

    Why is the Govt doing this now, when current fiscal forecasts predict low (or no) budget surplus, when the Govt had a $11 billion surplus in the last few years? Now, the economy is slowing, household budgets are been squeezed and we’re all over taxed and underfed. Just another thing that NZ’ers have to pay for, with no benefit to any of us except the possiblity of Labour 4th term.

    Good one Labour. While I support the idea behind this intiative, I think its all too late, with only ‘potential’ gains for the common Kiwi – a lame duck I suspect.

  21. MikeE 21

    Are there any means of production that shouldn’t be nationalised according to the standard?

    [who are you asking? we’re a diverse group from across the Left. I would argue that most businesses ought not be nationalised but that we should as a society own the infrastructure that our economy is built on – other Standardistas might argue to the left or the centre of that position. SP]

    [lprent: And I’m to the right of SP – read the policy (top of the screen). Hey Steve you’re blocking my fun.]

  22. Steve Pierson 22

    Phil. Isn’t that an argument against having any decentralised production and distribution at all? If we all grew our own vegetables and made our own clothes we wouldn’t have to have trucks driving from point a to b to c at all. tha’s the logical conclusion to your argument.

    It’s more energy efficent to haul freight over long distance by rail than truck and the better your rail system the less you have to worry about delays.

    Dad4J – I agree with you about the coal from the West Coast too.

  23. Tane 23

    Are there any means of production that shouldn’t be nationalised according to the standard?

    Like most things MikeE, it depends which one of us you talk to.

  24. mondograss 24

    I wonder if they’ll let it be run as a standalone SOE, or if they’ll try to integrate with something else. NZ Post for example is a pretty good freight and logistics company in its own right. I wonder how they’d feel about running the freight side of the operation?

  25. Draco TB 25

    on the other hand, by rail the process goes;

    Or it could go like this:
    Load goods into container, truck picks up container and delivers it to the holding yard, Container placed on train and taken to destination where the process is reversed. I can see business opportunities here.

    Basically what you’re doing there is overstating the process to make it look more complicated. All of the process that you listed would still have to be done if there were no trains involved. That courier van that picked up the parcel for delivery to another city isn’t going to drive to the other city. It’s going to go to the warehouse where it will be packed with other parcels and put on a larger type of transport.

    Surely the only way for long distance freight trains to turn a profit in New Zealand is for the government to regulate the ability of trucks to compete.

    If it benefits society as a whole then why shouldn’t they be regulated?

    Captcha: highway have – definitely what’s happened since trucking was deregulated.

  26. randal 26

    nix to the railways dude…I wanna trip to disneyland, a spa pool, anew used car, aplasma tv, a trip to antarctica, a hardly davison, a leaf blower, a angle grinder, a vertical shafter, a horizontal planer, a trip to china to fulfill my destiny, and and and and and then we can fix up all the stuff that needs fixing…first things first ok!

  27. Phil 27

    “Isn’t that an argument against having any decentralised production and distribution at all? If we all grew our own vegetables and made our own clothes we wouldn’t have to have trucks driving from point a to b to c at all. tha’s the logical conclusion to your argument.”

    No, that’s not the logical conclusion at all, because you’re ignoring the fixed costs all those individual operations have to cover.

  28. “Are there any means of production that shouldn’t be nationalised according to the standard?”

    Hey, mike, turn that question on yourself…

    Are there any means of production that you would like to see in state ownership?

    Monopoly private providers lead to failed markets, which the taxpayer either ends up subsidising, regulating, or consumers paying out of their arse. Now, Labour has ended the private monopolies of two ex-SOE’s.

    Now all transportation will have to comply with triple bottom line standards.

  29. higherstandard 29

    Mondo

    Good lateral thinking

  30. Ari: re-balancing (if necessary, I have yet to see a link to the numbers) of overall road tax between heavy & light vehicles would not increase the overall tax take. We might pay more for food but less for petrol.

    “why not focus on transport that hauls more people or cargo for less cost” , clearly trains have not been able to achieve this or Toll wouldn’t have ditched them and the taxpayer wouldn’t have been the only buyer.

    Buying the trains was ,like blocking the sale of privately owned AIAL shares against Treasury & OIA advice, a politically & poll driven election year tactic.

  31. Billy 31

    People may not remember but, I think right up until the Lange government, if a business wanted to transport goods other than by rail, it had to demonstrate why transport by road was impractical and get a license from the government. I think this was openly acknowledged as a straight protection-of-the-government’s-business thing.

    It is not difficult to imagine that we are not far from going back to that.

  32. Billy 32

    “…why transport by road was impractical…”

    why transport by rail was impractical…”

  33. ghostwhowalks 33

    Billy says
    ..It is not difficult to imagine that we are not far from going back to that.

    not .. not… back ..
    A triple negative.

    They protected the rail because there wasnt the money for investment in roads

    AS for the numbers
    ONE 40 t TRUCK does as much damage as 9600 cars
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-09-10-3878428638_x.htm

    Look at the Albany to Silverdale motorway.
    needs major repairs after 5 years only.
    Normal design period for the road is 20 years, with say resealing every 6 -8 years

  34. Billy 34

    When did “back” become a negative?

  35. Santi 35

    As a Toll shareholder I must congratulate the socialist Labour government for paying a handsome premium for my shares. It made my day and a few thousand dollars richer.

    Who says socialists aren’t losers? Well…..they are!

  36. RedLogix 36

    Santi,

    And if as a Troll shareholder you had lost money on the deal (it’s a free market after all which means you were free to loose as well as make on the deal)…. you would have been here accusing socialists of being corrupt thieves trampling on your sacred property rights.

  37. If rail is strategic, why are power lines not?
    And why did Cullen pay in excess of 200 million dollars more than this is worth. A socialist and other peoples money. I despair.

  38. Swampy 38

    There’s a lot of bollocks going out about this deal, especially the “sustainable” bit. All the rail tracks in the world are no use if we cannot economically export our stuff to the world, so to hear the Greens ranting on about reducing our dependence on oil is complete nonsense when their idea of NZ is an impoverished hippie backwater. As oil prices continue to rise the cost of shipping our goods to overseas markets will make much of our export sector unviable and the businesses will close up and move to Europe or the US (where their rail networks can ship the stuff economically to major population base) thus losing more and more jobs and shrinking our economy bigtime.

  39. Swampy 39

    Yes D4J why do they ship the coal across the South Island? Probably because Labour know they will have to close the coal mines soon to comply with their Kyoto commitments and don’t want to waste the money at Granity.

  40. How many facts can you manufacture at once?
    Rail is a natural monopoly: So how come it competes with trucks and coastal shipping? Natural monopolies have no readily substitutable alternatives, rail does.
    20 years of underinvestment and greedy owners: Well given five of those years were under state ownership, what does that say? Especially since the state spent $1.35billion bailing it out of debt in 1990. Great investment.
    Rail is at least three times more fuel efficient than road: Ignoring double handling and the fact that, amazingly with record oil prices, there isn’t a massive switch to rail. The fuel efficiency is true for long haul bulk freight but most of NZ freight movements are not of that kind. Regardless, if rail can’t compete with road then this much vaunted fuel efficiency doesn’t offset other costs.
    Brings benefits to the environment: How? Where is the evidence? The Surface Transport Costs and Charges study indicated that road was more environmentally friendly for freight movement than rail in some cases. This is an article of faith only.
    Trucks don’t pay the costs they impose on the roads: Um they do, road user charges increase exponentially according to weights of trucks, and this over recovers road maintenance costs for state highways.

    There is no economic or environmental reason to do this, it is an article of faith pure and simple. The government has forced everyone else to pay for a train set.

  41. burt 41

    Stuff: History of NZ railways

    An interesting read…

    1986 Labour government makes railways a state-owned enterprise. In six years the workforce is cut from 21,000 to 5000, while productivity of the land-based workforce is lifted 300 per cent.

    And back we go!

  42. burt 42

    vto nails it here

    Folk can’t afford the weekly food bill, power and petrol and the govt pays more than $200m over the book value just so it can say we own it.

    This is a disgrace, the govt are rich the people are poor. Go on slap em with more road and petrol tax to make the railways viable.

  43. Burt:

    You don’t understand productivity.

    The people are poor because wages are too low.

    Wages are low because people who think productivity comes from lowering wage inputs (as you seem to) had control of the government for fifteen years.

  44. burt 44

    Robinsod

    Wages are low and we have had a Labour govt for almost nine years.

    Wages have kept pace with the magical “inflation” percentage for the vast majority of NZ workers. If the vast majority of workers had had the same percentage pay rises since 1999 that the MP’s have had we would not be experiencing such budgetary pressure now.

    Junior Dr’s wouldn’t be on strike and people like you wouldn’t be trying to distract readers from the reality that the govt is rich and the people are poor. It’s time for Robin Hood to take back the big fat surpluses that the crooked king Cullen has taxed from our hard earned wages to build his empire.

    FFS – you call yourself a lefty and you support a govt that amasses enormous central wealth while workers suffer on low wages while you blame a govt from 18 years ago for todays situation. You are a sell out Labour apologist or a through and through communist. Please identify which you are.

  45. burt 45

    lprent

    I noticed that appear after I refreshed the page to obtain a more easily deciphered captcha. Kind of funky, Can you give me the same pattern but yellow?

    captcha: officials can ( well that answers my question)

  46. burt 46

    lprent

    OK, now you are deleting your own comments…. spooky.

  47. Sam Dixon 47

    Burt – “If the vast majority of workers had had the same percentage pay rises since 1999 that the MP’s have had we would not be experiencing such budgetary pressure now. ”

    The government doens’t set the wages of the vast majority of workers. Businesses do, it’s them you should be directing your complaint at

    And, of course, there is a limit to how quickly you can increase wages relative to growth before it just becomes pure inflationa nd you start a wage-inflation spiral.

  48. lprent 48

    Yeah – it was a test message to check the icon pickup speed. I usually zap them after doing whatever test I was after.

    I addressed it to you because you were the last message in the system. While checking your comments I noticed that your e-mail and therefore gravator had changed. Looked like an e-mail typo. Look at http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=1792#comment-31565

    I’m afraid that the identicons are generated from the MD5 of the e-mail. They come from gravator. I don’t pick them.

    You can have whatever you want. Just upload an image to gravatar – instructions and explanation in a new menu item at the top of the page. But it has to have a valid e-mail for the authentication e-mail.

    Lynn

  49. burt 49

    Sam Dixon

    It’s not business setting the pay rises for the teachers, the doctors, the nurses, police, GP’s and the radiographers. You know the people I’m talking about, the ones who the state can’t retain or attract.

    Remember the state it’s controlling 43% of our GDP. I’m thinking in Auckland airport terms 43% would be seen as a ‘majority’ but in NZ terms you seem to ignore it in the pay round equation.

  50. burt 50

    Sam

    To further qualify. I know the MP’s don’t set their own salary I have no issues with the MP’s getting pay rises well above the official CPI figures, what I do have issues with is that they won’t approve similar pay rises for sectors that badly require realignment with international markets.

    Had junior doctors had pay rises of the same percentage as the MP’s have had every year then I’m picking we wouldn’t have junior doctors strikes going on now.

    As for how quickly you can increase wages, do your maths on what level of pay rises 75% of families have had over the last few years. Didn’t Dr. Cullen say that govt spending is not inflationary, like Labour tax cuts aren’t. Come on cut the Labour good National bad shit – this country is heading for economic chaos if there isn’t some changes of direction very soon.

  51. Tane 51

    Burt, stoked to hear you’re in favour of big wage increases across the board. How do you reckon we go about doing it?

  52. Sam Dixon 52

    The public service employs 250,000 people (that’s the nurses doctors teachers etc). That’s about one in eight workers.

    Go to treasury and find our where the rest of the money goes (clue: superannuation). And it’s not 43% of GDP. Again, Treasury.

  53. burt 53

    Tane

    Lets start with the ones we can control, the public service pay, the tax and benefit rates.

    Link the public service (all sectors) pay rises to the Cabinet Ministers. No longer one getting circa 10% and another striking because they can’t have the same. Link the minimum wage to the same as well and flatten the tax rates after introducing a tax free bottom end and introduce income splitting abolishing WFF as you go. Index tax thresholds to ensure fiscal drag isn’t eroding peoples earning power as it is today.

    There, that’s a start.

  54. Sam Dixon 54

    Real (that’s after-inflation) household incomes have increased an average of 15% under Labour.

    The greatest increases have been for those on or near the minimum wage who have benefited from a 50% increase in the minimum wage and Working for Families.

    Would it be great if wages went up quicker? Sure. Tell me how you would see that happen. And remember – if it’s tax cuts, that’s a one-off increase and you won’t have any moeny to pay those junior docotrs and teachers more.

  55. burt 55

    Sam

    I was reading some material today about govt as a percentage of GDP, I don’t have it available where I am now. I’ll link a reference or post a source to back up my assertion (or I’ll apologise for my error) tomorrow.

  56. Sam Dixon 56

    Your solution is to fiddle with the tax rates, creating a couple of percent up some peple and down on net income for a few people (down for those paying not net tax currently thanks to working for families).

    And if you’re going to cut taxes sufficently to really move up net incomes by any meaningful amount (still nto a huge amount and remember it’s a one-off boost), you’re not going to have any money for large publice sector pay increases – so that’s not a solution to boosting thsoe wages, all you will do is keep the minimum wage, MPs, and the public service stuck on the same rate.

    I have sympathy with the idea that MPs pay rises are too high but there simply isn’t the money to give all the public service similar rises – it would have to come from higher taxation, and you’ve just lowered taxes, so it would have to some from borrowing, which is inflationary. A government that is borrowing to pay it’s staff is in deep sh*t.

    So, you could tie MPs rises down with others but that’s not going to life wages overall. And, as a good capitialist, I wonder if you would agree with CEOs and senrio mangement getting only the same rises as junior staff. After all, they get much larger rises now and it is actually those large rises that cause the MP rises to be large because the Remuneration Board that sets MPs wages is guided by similar level jobs in the private sector.

    Remember – even if you cut incoem tax altoghether you wouldn’t close the pay gap with Aussie and you would be left wih no money to pay the public service. The problem is low wages in the private sector, not tax.

  57. burt 57

    Sam

    You make the assumption that a capitalist wouldn’t want annual increases the same across all staff, they are apparently to cover inflation. Pay increases as a result of changes in duties, changes in role or other performance/experience based measurements are another story, as are adjustments for market forces.

    Lets make no mistake about this, the majority of low paid workers get a “CPI” increase and that is it. No performance bonus, no incentive to work smarter, no incentive to work harder or otherwise increase productivity. Union ‘award’ rates and collective bargaining have a lot to answer for here.

    Don’t confuse the MP’s pay rises with CPI increases, they are worth a lot more than that. However the fact they won’t approve similar increases for other public servants who are internationally very under paid astounds me. And don’t be a smart ass about not being able to afford it because I have just cut taxes, I haven’t, Labour hasn’t (yet) and it’s been a problem for a few years now.

    Besides, since when is a radical restructure of the tax system (add zero rates, add income splitting, change and flattern rates and index thresholds) been a one of bonus. Increasing a junior Dr’s take home pay through reducing taxation will stop them leaving the country as quickly as increasing their gross pay over three years. How you Labourites can’t understand net vs gross pay astounds me.

  58. burt 58

    Sam

    From stuff: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4490859a20475.html

    In June 2006, junior doctors went on strike for five days, disrupting care for 17,000 patients and costing boards about $5 million.

    What was the surplus in 2006? $8b? Ummm. You are right about the fat cat CEO’s enjoying the fruits of other peoples labour. I can’t see how you can support a political party who do exactly what you despise in the private sector. These pricks (the rick pricks) are flatly refusing to see other public servants (workers) get pay rises in the same vicinity as their own for the last 9 years.

    Now, about these railways – how much additional petrol tax will it take to subsidise the rail network to the point where people use it?

  59. burt 59

    Sam Dixon

    Re: the state controlling 43% of GDP.

    The source of that information was an article in ‘NZ Property Investor’ weekly from 05th May.

    “It’s May – the month Kiwis start working for themselves”

    “And, says Kerr, if the national tax burden is measured as a ratio of taxation to GDP, instead of spending, the picture of this country as being highly taxed is further accentuated. The latest OECD figures show that the “ratio of general government total tax and non tax receipts” to GDP – for New Zealand – is 45% for 2008, well above the average OECD ratio of 38.6% and higher than Germany’s ratio of almost 44%.”

    Kerr then uses these statistics to further discuss productivity, as you would expect an intelligent person to.

  60. r0b 60

    “And, says Kerr, if the national tax burden is measured as a ratio of taxation to GDP, instead of spending, the picture of this country”

    And, says r0b, if the national tax rate is measured using any numbers I like take away seven and carry the nine, then I can get you any answer I like.

    Measured as per the OECD’s standard figures, personal tax in NZ is the third lowest in the OECD (lower than Australia!), see the graph on this page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax

  61. burt 61

    rOb

    Yes, jumble up some numbers, just like the official CPI. scoff scoff petrol, basic food items, housing… Three things everybody needs which are consuming all of a low income but only a portion of a high income.

    It’s interesting on that graph you reference that NZ personal taxation is higher than Australia’s but our corporate taxation is much less. It’s odd that people are called ‘right wing’ when they highlight personal taxation of workers as being too high yet people who defend high personal taxation of workers and low taxation of corporates call themselves left wing. NZ is such a funny place.

  62. burt 62

    Dohhh

    Got that the wrong way around. No wonder it seemed odd.

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    1 week ago
  • Forestry Minister Shane Jones swipes back at billion trees critics
    Forestry Minister Shane Jones says concerns that carbon foresters are planting pine trees that will never be harvested are the result of "misinformation". "The billion tree strategy is an excellent idea, unfortunately from time to time it's tainted by misinformation spread by the National Party or their grandees, hiding in scattered ...
    1 week ago
  • Budget boost for refugee families a win for compassion
    The Green Party welcomes funding in the budget to reunite more refugees with their families, ensuring they have the best chance at a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand. ...
    1 week ago
  • How Budget 2020 is supporting jobs
    This year’s Budget is about rebuilding New Zealand together in the face of COVID-19. Jobs are central to how we’re going to do that.There’s a lot of targeted investment for employment in this year’s Budget, with announcements on creating new jobs, training people for the jobs we have, and supporting ...
    1 week ago
  • Winston Peters says China didn’t want NZ to go into lockdown
    Speaking to Stuff's Coronavirus NZ podcast, Foreign Minister Winston Peters revealed China tried to dissuade New Zealand from going into lockdown. “Without speaking out of turn, they wanted a discussion as to why we were doing it, because they thought it was an overreaction,” Mr Peters told Stuff’s Coronavirus NZ podcast. He also ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Changes made to Overseas Investment Act to protect New Zealand assets
    The Coalition Government is making changes to the Overseas Investment Act to ensure New Zealand assets don't fall into the hands of foreign ownership in the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Associate Minister of Finance David Parker announced the Act will be amended to bring forward a national interest ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters: Trans-Tasman bubble to help tourism industry make swift recovery
    A quick start to a trans-Tasman bubble could see the tourism industry make a swift recovery, according to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. "I believe tourism will turn around dramatically faster than people think," Mr Peters told reporters after Thursday's Budget. "Why? Because I think the Tasman bubble is [going ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rt. Hon Winston Peters: Budget Speech
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First   Please check against delivery https://vimeo.com/418303651 Budget 2020: Jobs, Business and Balance   Introduction Acknowledgements to all Cabinet colleagues, and party ministers Tracey Martin, Shane Jones and Ron Mark, Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau and to caucus colleagues. Thank you for your support, your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Jacinda Ardern’s 2020 Budget Speech
    Read Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Budget 2020 Speech. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Budget 2020: Next steps to end family and sexual violence
    The 2020 Budget includes significant support to stabilise New Zealand’s family violence services, whose work has been shown to be so essential throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Investment in housing gives more people access to the home they deserve
    The Green Party says huge new investment in public and transitional housing will get thousands more families into the warm, safe homes they deserve.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Budget 2020: Huge investment in green nature based jobs jump starts sustainable COVID recovery
    The Green Party says the $1.1 billion environmental investment in this year’s budget to create thousands of green jobs will help jump start a sustainable recovery from the COVID crisis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Grant Robertson’s 2020 Budget Speech
    Read Minister of Finance Grant Robertson's Budget 2020 Speech. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters tells struggling migrant workers ‘you should probably go home’
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said today the Coalition Government told foreigners at the start of the Covid-19 crisis that if their circumstances had changed dramatically, they should go home. "And 50,000 did," Mr Peters said. Official advice to Cabinet revealed there is potentially 380,000 foreigners and migrant workers in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand First welcomes today’s Alert Level 2 announcement
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First welcomes the decision today to go to Alert Level 2 from midnight Wednesday, says Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters. Alert Level 2 will mean a return to work for the vast majority of New Zealand’s businesses. A return ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nurses to be protected after amendment to First Responders Bill
    Nurses now look set to get more protection from violence at work, under a proposed new law. This after NZ First MP Darroch Ball's "Protection for First Responders Bill", which introduces a six-month minimum sentence for assaults on first responders, will now also cover emergency department healthcare workers. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nurses to get more protection, added to ‘First Responders’ legislation
    Darroch Ball MP, New Zealand First Law and Order Spokesperson An amendment to the ‘Protection of First Responders Bill’ is being tabled which will see emergency department healthcare workers included in the legislation. “During this COVID-19 crisis we have seen reports of violence and specifically increased incidents of spitting towards ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shane Jones: Northland port could be economic haven
    Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones is breathing new life into the proposal to move Auckland's port to Whangārei to help in the economic recovery post Covid-19 pandemic. If New Zealand First was returned in the September general election, Minister Jones said a priority would be development of an "economic haven" at Northport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF grant for Ventnor memorial
    The plan to build a memorial to the SS Ventnor, and those who were lost when it sank off the Hokianga coast in 1902, has been granted $100,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund. Originally planned for a site near Rāwene cemetery, the memorial will now be built at the new Manea ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 75th anniversary of V.E Day
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters said: “Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day – marking the end of World War II in Europe." Millions died in the six years of war, and families were torn apart. 75 years ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Getting the job done
    From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government has committed to providing calm, clear, and consistent communication, including regular press conference updates from the Prime Minister. While New Zealand is at Alert Level 3, we're making sure that New Zealanders are kept informed and up-to-date with all the latest ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters responds to Simon Bridges’ ‘my sweetheart’ comment
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay. A day earlier, National Party leader Simon Bridges was on the radio show and referred to the Deputy Prime Minister as, "my sweetheart Winston". Mr Peters swiftly dismissed the question of whether Bridges had changed his mind about ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to pay essential heroes a decent wage, says Green Party
    The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how much we rely on our essential workers. The Green Party are proposing a package that ensures they are paid a dignified wage so they do not live in poverty. ...
    3 weeks ago

  • New payment to support Kiwis through COVID
    Further support for New Zealanders affected by 1-in-100 year global economic shock 12-week payment will support people searching for new work or retraining Work programme on employment insurance to support workers and businesses The Government today announced a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due ...
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    6 hours ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
    The Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The funding is comprised of repurposed Provincial Growth ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents
    Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker ...
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    1 day ago
  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has reacted with concern at the introduction of legislation in China’s National People’s Congress relating to national security in Hong Kong.  “We have a strong interest in seeing confidence maintained in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Samoa Language Week theme is perfect for the post-COVID-19 journey
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, says the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week is a perfect fit for helping our Pacific communities cope with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, and to prepare now for the journey ahead as New Zealand focuses on recovery plans and rebuilding New ...
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    2 days ago
  • Adult kakī/black stilt numbers soar
    A nearly 40-year programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. “Thanks to the team effort involved in the Department of Conservation’s ...
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    2 days ago
  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
    The story of the Waikato-Tainui Treaty process and its enduring impact on the community is being told with a five-part web story launched today on the 25th anniversary of settlement, announced Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “I am grateful to Waikato-Tainui for allowing us to help capture ...
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    3 days ago
  • Taita College to benefit from $32 million school redevelopment
    Taita College in the Hutt Valley will be redeveloped to upgrade its ageing classrooms and leaky roofs, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “The work is long overdue and will make a lasting difference to the school for generations to come,” Chris Hipkins said. “Too many of our schools are ...
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    3 days ago
  • Redeployment for workers in hard-hit regions
    The Government is allocating $36.72 million to projects in regions hard hit economically by COVID-19 to keep people working, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Projects in Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Rotorua and Queenstown will be funded from the Government’s $100 million worker ...
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    3 days ago
  • $35m to build financial resilience for New Zealanders
    A $35m boost to financial capability service providers funded by MSD will help New Zealanders manage their money better both day to day and through periods of financial difficulty, announced Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “It’s always been our position to increase support to key groups experiencing or at risk ...
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    4 days ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
    Dunedin barrister Melinda Broek has been appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Rotorua, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Ms Broek has iwi affiliations to Ngai Tai. She commenced her employment in 1996 with Scholefield Cockroft Lloyd in Invercargill specialising in family and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
    The Coalition Government has approved a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, with the first phase starting later this year, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The investment will be made in three phases over five years, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Review of CAA organisational culture released
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today released the Ministry of Transport’s review of the organisational culture at the Civil Aviation Authority. Phil Twyford says all employees are entitled to a safe work environment. “I commissioned this independent review due to the concerns I had about the culture within the CAA, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Board appointed at Stats NZ
    Ensuring that Stats NZ’s direction and strategy best supports government policy decisions will be a key focus for a new Governance Advisory Board announced today by the Minister for Statistics, James Shaw. The new Governance Advisory Board will provide strategic advice to Stats NZ to ensure it is meeting New ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Principal Environment Judge
    Environment Judge David Kirkpatrick of Auckland has been appointed as the Principal Environment Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  Judge Kirkpatrick was appointed an Environment Judge in February 2014. From December 2013 to July 2016 he was Chair of the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel. Prior to appointment he ...
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    5 days ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
    A programme to connect marae around the country to the internet has received $1.4 million to expand to include urban marae in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The funding for the Marae Connectivity Programme ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
    The Government will provide $500,000 to the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral Drought Relief Fund to help farmers facing one of the worst droughts in living memory, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from Hawke's Bay's five local Government leaders asking me to contribute to the Fund. ...
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    6 days ago
  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
    Budget 2020 provides a major investment in New Zealand’s documentary heritage sector, with a commitment to leasing a new Archives Wellington facility and an increase in funding for Archives and National Library work. “Last year I released plans for a new Archives Wellington building – a purpose-built facility physically connected ...
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    6 days ago
  • Driving prompt payments to small businesses
    Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. The Ministers of Finance, Small Business, Commerce and Consumer Affairs have written to more than 40 significant enterprises and banking industry representatives to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Rotorua tourist icon to be safeguarded
    Maori Arts and Crafts will continue to underpin the heart of the tourism sector says Minister for Maori Development Nanaia Mahuta.  “That’s why we are making a core investment of $7.6 million to Te Puia New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, over two years, as part of the Government’s ...
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    6 days ago
  • $14.7m for jobs training and education
    The Government is funding more pathways to jobs through training and education programmes in regional New Zealand to support the provinces’ recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson have announced. “New Zealand’s economic recovery will be largely driven by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Is it time to further recognise those who serve in our military?
     Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has announced the launch of a national conversation that aims to find out whether New Zealanders think there should be a formal agreement between service people, the Government, and the people of New Zealand. “This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce
    The Government’s drive to improve the quality of early childhood education (ECE) is taking another step forward with the reintroduction of a higher funding rate for services that employ fully qualified and registered teachers, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “Research shows that high-quality ECE can improve young people’s learning ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Sport Recovery Package announced
    The Sport and Recreation sector will receive a multi-million dollar boost as part of the COVID-19 response funded at Budget 2020.  Grant Robertson says the Sport and Recreation Sector contributes about $5 billion a year to New Zealand’s GDP and employs more than 53,000 people. “Sport plays a significant role ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Major boost in support for caregivers and children
    A major increase in funding and availability of support will improve the incomes and reduce the pressure on 14,000 caregivers looking after more than 22,000 children. Children’s Minister Tracey Martin says that caregivers – all those looking after someone else’s children both in and outside the state care system – ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Great Walks recovery on track for summer
    Vital conservation and visitor infrastructure destroyed by a severe flood event in Fiordland earlier this year is being rebuilt through a $13.7 million Budget 2020 investment, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.   “This investment will mean iconic Great Walks such as the Routeburn track and the full length of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Māori – Government partnership gives whānau a new housing deal
    The Government is investing  $40 million in a partnership with Māori to get more whānau into warm, dry and secure accommodation, Associate Minister for Housing (Māori Housing) Hon Nanaia Mahuta says.. “We are partnering with Māori and iwi to respond to the growing housing crisis in the wake of COVID-19. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders Safe In The Water
    Keeping New Zealanders safe in the water Our lifeguards and coastguards who keep New Zealanders safe in the water have been given a funding boost thanks to the 2020 Budget, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Poto Williams has announced. The water safety sector will receive $63 million over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
    The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, which set a sound legal framework ahead of the move to Alert level 2, has been referred to a parliamentary select committee for review.  Attorney-General David Parker said the review of the operation of the COVID-19 specific law would be reported back to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand condemns shocking attacks on hospital and funeral in Afghanistan
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand condemns the targeting of civilians in two terrorist attacks in Afghanistan earlier this week. “The terrorist attacks on a hospital in Kabul and a funeral in Nangarhar province are deeply shocking. The attacks were deliberate and heinous acts of extreme violence targeting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to close tobacco tax loophole
    The Government will close a loophole that allowed some people to import cigarettes and loose leaf tobacco for manufacturing cigarettes and ‘roll your owns’ for sale on the black market without excise tax being paid, says Minister of Customs Jenny Salesa. The legislation, which doesn’t affect duty free allowances for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $62 million package to support families through the Family Court
    The Coalition Government has made a significant $62 million investment from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to start the reform of the Family Court and enable it to respond effectively to the increased backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced the Family Court (Supporting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tailored help supports new type of job seeker – report
    The Government’s expanded services to support people into jobs will help an emerging cohort of New Zealanders impacted by COVID-19. The impacted group are relatively younger, have a proportionately low benefit history and have comparatively higher incomes than most who seek support, as captured in a report published today from ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • A modern approach to night classes
    New funding to boost Government-funded Adult and Community Education (ACE) will give more than 11,000 New Zealanders more opportunities to learn, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This includes a modern approach to rebuilding night classes, which were slashed in the middle of our last economic crisis in 2010,” Chris Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch Call makes significant progress
    Significant progress has been delivered in the year since the Christchurch Call to Action brought governments and tech companies together in Paris with a single goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardent says. On its first anniversary, Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch Call: One year Anniversary
    Joint statement: the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of New Zealand and His Excellency Emmanuel Macron President of the French Republic. One year since we launched, in Paris, the Christchurch Call to Action, New Zealand and France stand proud of the progress we have made toward our goal to eliminate terrorist ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Budget 2020: Jobs and opportunities for the primary sector
    $19.3 million to help attract and train recently unemployed New Zealanders and grow the primary sector workforce by 10,000 people. $128 million for wilding pine and wallaby control, providing hundreds of jobs. $45.3m over four years to help horticulture seize opportunities for future growth. $14.9 million to reduce food waste ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New registration system for forestry advisers and log traders
    A new log registration scheme and practice standards will bring us one step closer to achieving ‘value over volume’ in our forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says. New legislation introduced as part of Budget 2020 will require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to register and work to nationally ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Finance Minister’s Budget 2020 s Budget Speech
    Mr Speaker, I move that the Appropriation (2020/21 Estimates) Bill be now read a second time. From its very beginning this Coalition Government has committed to putting the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do. There is no time in New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Finance Minister’s Budget 2020 Budget Speech
    Mr Speaker, I move that the Appropriation (2020/21 Estimates) Bill be now read a second time. From its very beginning this Coalition Government has committed to putting the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do. There is no time in New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago