Governments need to do some work.

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, May 23rd, 2014 - 37 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags:

I nearly snorted my coffee down the wrong way when the Economist arrived on my pad this morning.  “In need of new oomph” opened with the obvious.

ECONOMISTS expected 2014 to be the year in which the global expansion stepped up a gear. Instead, nearly five years into its recovery from a deep recession, the rich world’s economy still looks disappointingly weak. America’s GDP grew at an annualised rate of only 0.1% in the first quarter. Euro-area growth, at 0.8%, was only half the expected pace. Some of the weakness is temporary (bad weather did not help in America), and it is not ubiquitous: in Britain and Germany, for example, growth has accelerated, and Japan has put on a brief spurt. Most forecasters still expect the recovery to gain momentum during the year.

For all of the obviously false cheer that Bill English put in his budget this month, most of his growth estimates appear to be  about as illusory as his “surpluses” are likely to be in coming years. With the continuing steady decline in whole milk powder prices, the increasing expectations of  Fonterra dropping milk solids prices from the record $8.65/kg to as low as $6 during 2014/5,  and flat demand in our rich world markets – which makes the nearly 4% GDP growth budgeted/forecast by treasury for 2015 look ever more unlikely.

Admittedly a lot of that will be from the earthquake rebuild. But that depends on a host of factors that don’t seem to be coming together too well, and most importantly it doesn’t appear to be soaking up the endemic unemployment that is causing a fair chunk of the governments continuing debt issues.

The governments debt position  is still caught by the simple fact that 5 and 4 years after making unaffordable taxcuts for the already affluent and effectively raising taxes on those less well off via a GST increase, the government is still leaking money. It simply didn’t generate any perceivable economic growth. It most likely did the exact opposite and contracted the economy further than it would have done without those tax cust.

But what gets interesting is where the Economist leader article proceeded from there.

What should be done to forestall that outcome? The standard answer is that central banks need to loosen monetary conditions further and keep them loose for longer.

The problem here is that while skills are in demand, then Christchurch is about the only thing in the entire economy that  might grow a need for the less skilled who are unemployed. Then there is the kicker…

But if loose monetary conditions are a prerequisite for a more vigorous recovery, it is increasingly clear that on their own they are not enough. Indeed, over-reliance on central banks may be a big reason behind the present sluggishness. In recent years monetary policy has been the rich world’s main, and often only, tool to support growth. Fiscal policy has worked in the opposite direction: virtually all rich-world governments have been cutting their deficits, often at a rapid clip. Few have shown much appetite for the ambitious supply-side reforms that might raise productivity and induce firms to invest. Free-trade deals languish.

In our case we don’t do much manufacture for the local economy any more and increasingly the targeting towards the local economy is just the services and retail. There really isn’t that much room for productivity improvements here. Every area that is exposed to world market conditions by exporting to it has about the largest incentive that can be imagined to improve productivity – and they do. Which is why we have high demand for skills in the main urban centres and little demand for the unskilled.

Against this unhelpful background, central banks have been remarkably successful. Growth has been so stable that economists are beginning to talk, somewhat eerily, of the return of the “Great Moderation”, the era of macroeconomic stability that preceded the global financial crisis (see article). Sadly, with such stability at a subpar pace of growth, low interest rates and low volatility have a bigger impact on asset prices than on real investment, and risk creating financial bubbles long before economies reach full employment.

Which is what is steadily making this country one of the worlds most expensive to live in relative to incomes in the places where jobs are.

What is really needed, though, is a more balanced growth strategy that relies less exclusively on central banks.

Such a strategy would have two elements. One is to boost public investment in infrastructure. From American airports to German broadband coverage, much of the rich world’s infrastructure is inadequate. Borrowing at rock-bottom interest rates to improve it will support today’s growth, boost tomorrow’s and leave the recovery less dependent on private debt.

That is the position that NZ is in. We have some real infrastructure constraints to our economic growth outside of the dairy sector. They simply haven’t been addressed by this government or they have been carefully placed so far in the future that they are effectively useless.

Even such infrastructure initiatives that they grabbed from the outgoing government like the fibre project are so glacially slow that they make no real difference. I have been waiting more than a year to get fibre at home since it was laid outside the door of my apartment block. They have been avoiding paying for infrastructure improvements that have clear economic benefits like the public transport projects in NZ (and claiming credit for the ones started by the last Labour government). Instead they keep trying to push uneconomic roading and housing projects that are of  significance only to National’s land banking allies.

A second element ought to be a blitz of supply-side reforms. In addition to the obvious benefits of freer trade, every rich country has plenty of opportunities for reforms at home, from overhauling the regulations that inhibit house-building in Britain to revamping America’s ineffective system of worker training.

We really have little room for supply-side reforms. Just about every one that has been proposed over the last decade either has or would have made things worse. For instance the perennial claims that reducing regulation on how housing is built would do anything except lead again to the colossal waste of resources that fell out of the 1990s ‘reforms’ in the same area and caused a massive production of sub-standard leaky homes. Or the way that deregulation and privatisation of the electricity sector has been steadily causing increased costs in that area to ‘finance’ the investment in the cheaply purchased infrastructure that only gets revalued upwards.  Directly or indirectly these have

Progress on these fronts would lead to stronger, stabler growth and would reduce the odds that the next recession begins with interest rates close to zero (making it particularly hard to fight). But it demands politicians who can distinguish between budget profligacy and prudent borrowing, and who have the courage to push through unpopular reforms. The rich world needs such politicians to step up.

Indeed. It is pretty clear that this National-led government has been incapable of seeing past dairy for the past 5 years. Time to put a government in who can.

37 comments on “Governments need to do some work.”

  1. karol 1

    This is an important piece of work, and indicates a major need for a change in approach.

    For me who is not so well versed in economics, I had to look up the meaning of “supply side economics”.

    And this I understand:

    Typical policy recommendations of supply-side economists are lower marginal tax rates and less regulation.

    So the answer is more focus on developing necessary and sound infrastructure, like public transport, and electricity – more focus on developing productive enterprises that can increase NZ’s exports?

    • lprent 1.1

      NZ already has low marginal income tax rates. A range of what is effectively 17.5% to 33% is about as flat as any country is likely to get (when they get flatter than that, they usually hurriedly revert) and not a lot of regulation by comparison with almost every country in the OECD.

      NZ really went deeply into the supply side mantra and it really isn’t a issue except for possibly undoing some of it.

      But we are a exporting nation but with far too much simple commodity exports.

      What we have are some significiant issues developing our non-commodity exports from our urban centres, in our communications infrastructure, in other infrastructures that support them like power, and in retaining skills.

      In my current round of job hunting for instance, I was looking longingly at overseas markets where we could get a larger living area at half of the relative income I use for it now. That is a powerful incentive to leave. Housing is going to be a hell of an issue for increasing exports at the relative housing costs here.

      BTW: before anyone starts going on about it. There is nowhere but Auckland in NZ that has the required density of support companies to allow people like me to produce exports in the areas that I do. There is a whole ecology of engineers, artists, couriers, and everything else required who are in a close enough proximity to produce the export cluster required. Christchurch was starting to get there before the earthquake…. Now the people moved North.

      • Populuxe1 1.1.1

        I thought the magic of the internet was supposed to render such density obsolete. Silly me.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          The internet can do many things but it still can’t do teleportation.

          • Populuxe1 1.1.1.1.1

            I don’t know about you, but I hardly ever deal with “real” objects. I’d be rather surprised if a sysop had to at all.

  2. SpaceMonkey 2

    Perhaps it’s time we added another category to the “developing” and “developed” list of nations… “undeveloping”. That pretty much describes the insolvent, over-financialised western economies as they slowly unwind on the downward slope of the bell-curve towards collapse.

  3. Jim 3

    Great article, it introduces the arguments that this election should but won’t debate greatly. Yes the counter productive trickle up of the great tax switch. The real reduction of government funding of research and development. Raw logs being exported and then processed before being imported again for the Christchurch rebuild. The real contraction of our manufacturing sector. If issues like these are raised, as in David Cunliff’s speech on Wednesday, it is barley mentioned in the main stream media (just a small article on Stuff). If he had been offensive while saying this over twitter during the budget debate he may have got some coverage.

    • Brendon Harre 3.1

      Is there a link to David’s speech. I missed it ….

    • Brendon Harre 3.2

      John Armstrong: “Labour starting to look like contender”

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11260998

      Something is happening. Labour is getting its mojo back. Maybe the public at large haven’t noticed yet but people who are watching closely have.

      It is not just National doing badly with the whole Collins and Williams crony capitalism thing.

      Or Jonkey having a bad day few days with the housing debate with Metiria Turei taking him apart in Parliament.

      http://www.interest.co.nz/news/70014/key-says-doesnt-accept-affordability-harder-first-home-buyers-now-when-he-bought-says-ple

      And the media have noticed…

      Opinion: John Key is a commanding leader – until he starts talking about houses
      http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/70016/opinion-john-key-commanding-leader-until-he-starts-talking-about-houses

      I don’t think it is just Cunliffe has improved with the help of Matt McCarten as suggested by John Armstrong.

      I think Labour is beginning to articulate a new vision, different from the last 30 years of neo-liberalism. Not the slightly kinder more redistributed neoliberalism of Helen Clark but something fundamentally different.

      Kiwisaver and Kiwibuild are not policies about higher taxes and more spending. It is an conceptual shift acknowledging that the marketplace is not perfect and maybe the government can do something to improve on it.

      This conceptual shift would not have come if the public still believed that markets where always the solution and governments were always the problem.

      I wonder what else is coming? Other policies to help us switch from debt and consumption and overinvestment in existing houses to saving/investing in productivity improvements? New public infrastructure? Decentralisation? A hundred little market interventions that make life easier, such as Stuart Munro’s call to simplify the rules and information cost of building your own home? Or to look at the factors in general that make new builds and therefore existing houses so expensive.

      I think somehow the tide has turned against neoliberalism. Whether it turns in time to wash away Key and bring in Cunliffe I am not sure but something is happening out there.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Sigh. The Economist trying to pretend that it’s a novel concept that monetary policy has helped the very wealthy become obscenely wealthy, but has otherwise been unable to fix the world economy and that just maybe FISCAL expenditure (NOT austerity) might have to be used.

    Nah, the world’s leaders and elite can’t get us out of this one. Labour will be better than National on this count however, but they too will struggle under the neoliberal monetary and financial framework that has been imposed on the world.

    Just witness how Labour insists that we MUST cut NZ super by raising eligibility to 67 years of age even though 30% of our youth are unemployed.

    • Macro 4.1

      Exactly. Labour are almost as donkey deep in denial that the “precious” monetary policies of the mid 80’s and 90’s and today, are an absolute disaster for ordinary men and women, as National is now.
      We are seeing a repeat of history from the French of the late 1700’s as the wealthy become more insulated from reality living lives of obscene extravagance whilst 90% of the population decline further into penury. That as we know was “adjusted” when the middle classes suddenly woke up to the fact that they were working to support the 1%ers. I’m not sure what the outcome will be in the future, but I wouldn’t want to be living in a “mansion” and own a super yacht.

      • Brendon Harre 4.1.1

        Where is NZ’s version of Theodore Roosevelt?

        “One of his first notable acts as president was to deliver a 20,000-word address to Congress[77] asking it to curb the power of large corporations (called “trusts”). He also spoke in support of organized labor to the further chagrin of big business, but to their delight he endorsed the gold standard, protective tariffs and lower taxes.[78] For his aggressive use of United States antitrust law he became known as the “trust-buster.” He brought 40 antitrust suits, and broke up such major combinations as the largest railroad and Standard Oil, the largest oil company.[79]” (From wiki)

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Looking at any single heroic political figure as being able to provide salvation is totally futile IMO.

          Let’s not put the rose tinted glasses on. Hundreds of unemployed and poor Americans died fighting in bloody violent street protests against corporate forces and the police. It was brutal. Just search on YouTube for the clips. Against this backdrop Theodore Roosevelt was a centrist pro-business conciliator who saved corporate capitalism. He brought about the New Deal because a mass movement of millions in America, including militant trade unions, the socialist and communist parties, and other major social movements, forced him to, and gave him leverage to force Congress and big business to accept compromise to survive.

          NZ has no Theodore Roosevelt, and will never have anybody approaching Theodore Roosevelt (or MJ Savage) as long as it has no mass movement of people forcing such politicans to do the right thing.

          • Brendon Harre 4.1.1.1.1

            Fair call. I was just implying that either there is a (relatively) peacefully movement towards society fairly dividing up the economy or there is sliding into ever more unequal outcomes with the end result being some sort of violent revolution….

            I think movements like the first Labour government were on the whole ‘peaceful’ compared to the French revolution that Macro was implying above could be the outcome of our increasing unfair social outcomes.

            • Macro 4.1.1.1.1.1

              I don’t want a violent revolution anymore than any other sane person. What I see happening today however is perhaps summed up by CV, more succinctly than I could possibly say. Our polls tell us that the “joe lunch boxes” ( these are the middle class workers who head off every morning with or without their lunch box – a term I discovered last night used by those less privileged – and unemployed) are too busy working to notice that their situation is steadily deteriorating. The middle class in USA woke up recently to the fact that they are no longer the most affluent middle class in the world today. http://www.alternet.org/economy/were-not-number-1-guess-which-country-now-has-more-affluent-middle-class-america
              and I’ve got news for USA – it’s going to get worse!
              Eventually the reality will sink in – when 80% of ones income is going to providing a roof over ones head perhaps? Or the realisation that no matter how hard one works or saves the bills get on getting bigger and the possibility of owning a home becomes dimmer and dimmer. Who knows. Eventually people will begin to ask the question that they should have been asking all along. “Just what is the economy for anyway?”, and it’s not for the purpose of growing corporates bigger and bigger, as our present governments seem to think.
              Just how the “revolution” will pan out I have no idea. Obviously there is no movement pressing for major reform if the polls reflect this sentiment, and just as there is no clamouring for urgent action on climate change, politicians see no need to, or have any political mandate to, enact or institute policies that are needed.

              • Draco T Bastard

                +111

              • Colonial Viper

                Eventually the reality will sink in – when 80% of ones income is going to providing a roof over ones head perhaps?

                Another phenomenon to be aware of is how the mainstream media makes ordinary Americans bearing the brunt of the economic decline completely invisible and voiceless.

                For instance, in 2010 the banking industry seized more than 1M US homes. That’s a huge number equivalent to millions of people made homeless, being forced to move and find alternative accomodation, and many millions more with that daily threat hanging over their families.

                Orlov says that in contrast, during the collapse of the Soviet Union the socialised state housing system, as inefficient and insufficient as it was, meant that relatively few people lost their homes.

                So I would say that for very many Americans that reality has hit home in a brutal way. But you would never know it, seeing how the MSM keeps going on about the Kardashian wedding or Michael Jackson’s new album from beyond the grave.

                In NZ a similar thing happens. The MSM doesn’t give NZ’s many hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries a serious voice in the news, other than to harangue them, make jokes out of them, or portray them as lazy criminals waiting to be found out.

  5. ianmac 5

    Well Bill and John would disagree wouldn’t they. “We have repaired the damage done by 9 long years of a Labour led Government. We have given tax cuts to the deserving in a fiscally neutral way. We have loosened up the red tape that Labour had created because National wants growth and Labour doesn’t. And blah blah ….”
    They say this sort of stuff repeatedly and to we un-economic minded, it must be right because everyone knows that National is a good manager of the Economy. Aren’t they?
    Your piece Iprent sure loosens the Nat tight grip on the dialogue. How to get it to the general population though?

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    With respect to building reforms – I was self-building in the 90s when the standards changed from a $25 book to about 20 slim booklets for over $600. Inspections also went crazy during this period – or rather, increased out of proportion to their quality and value.

    That $25 book was not the standard that created the leaky homes – it was the uber technical new standards that permitted that. So I’m inclined to argue that both the standards and the inspection costs could readily be improved, and that the current system imbeds a layer of deadweight costs that we would do better to avoid. But the penalty period on poor building should probably be extended – householders and the consolidated should not carry the can for the developers.

    The ‘basic NZ home’ needs to be rethought, and without imposing massive new cost layers on established non-NZ-traditional technologies like adobe, geodesics, or apartments. Ideally a working group should be systematically attacking the fat in multiple housing component areas, from finance and materials to utilities, permits and real estate fees.

    The costs of some materials should permit new builds substantially cheaper than contemporary norms. But our regs are designed for a vanishing or vanished suburbia, they penalise alternative technologies.

    I’ve been in Asia for most of the last ten years too, so I should mention that, no, neither our service industries nor our retail are even remotely competitive.

    • Brendon Harre 6.1

      Thanks Stuart we need to get down to the practical level to make a real difference.

      An urban planner I really is Alain Bertaud. He was the principal planner for the World Bank. His thoughts are that government bodies -national and local should have two targets regarding urban planning.

      The first being housing affordability -medium house prices or rents as a proportion of medium incomes. Ideally these should be 3 times incomes or 25% of income respectively.

      Secondly mobility within an urban area. Every worker should be able to access all places of employment in under an hour, preferably half an hour.

      It being the government bodies responsibilty to ensure the regulations -building regulations, planning rules etc and instituitons -public transport, roads, local government funding and so on being constantly reviewed to attain these goals.

      I think this is consistent with what you -Stuart and Lynn are saying. KiwiBuild could also be seen as consistent with this idea as the 10 year project could be an important component in transitioning towards these goals.

      I think Alain Bertaud is coming to NZ in the next few months, look out for him when he comes.

  7. Ad 7

    This is an excerpt from a speech Cunliffe did recently. Curious at the end that he signals that there will be more announcements in this area.
    Lynn, I’d suggest you simply write to him direct and get in there on the policy floor. He knows you are expert in your field, and that you have been fully exprt-focussed for decades. Get in there.

    “We must meld our creativity with capital to build small to medium companies which dominate in market niches. We must foster talent to develop innovative products and services that people want to buy, and we must protect our intellectual property.

    We need to honour and replicate the likes of HamiltonJet, Icebreaker and Orion Health – mid-sized companies that have developed innovative products and services that the world wants to buy.

    In these cases, the high value activity and ownership has remained in New Zealand.

    But innovation is not just about hard science and new products. It is also about the softer aspects of business, such as distribution and marketing.

    Our current innovation problems are hurting us in the industry that will drive our future – ICT.

    If we compare ourselves with other smaller successful nations, it soon becomes clear that we have a deficit of around ten thousand high-tech jobs.

    Many of our children, and those who are teaching them, are running yesterday’s technology, and are falling behind their peers in the rest of the developed world.

    We cannot let that continue. ICT today plays a role similar to the railway in the 19th century. It is the infrastructure that opens up new markets and new supply chains.

    Places like Israel have realised the importance of upgrading ICT skills and related creative skills to support growth and innovation in other industries.

    We need to follow in their footsteps to upgrade our ICT industry.

    Labour is committed to overcoming the digital divide. We will not build a tech-savvy generation without new generation technology.

    That’s why our policy is to raise the bar in terms of ensuring access to fast broadband within low-decile schools.

    And Labour will introduce a “digital bill of rights” to give certainty to business and all New Zealanders that we can live, work and play safely and productively in the digital world.

    We will make further announcements in this important area.”

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Labour is committed to overcoming the digital divide. We will not build a tech-savvy generation without new generation technology.

      That’s why our policy is to raise the bar in terms of ensuring access to fast broadband within low-decile schools.

      Chicken before the egg.

      Some of the most tech-savvy people I’ve ever met are the older people who didn’t grow up with a computer at home, people who wanted to play with something new and exciting, people who were backed by both their parents and their community to engage in that play. Nowadays we’re way to worried about how much it will cost because we’ll have to raise taxes upon the rich.

      You want to increase innovation? Then increase the number of people who can play in the sandpit.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Nowadays we’re way to worried about how much it will cost because we’ll have to raise taxes upon the rich.

        And on the over 50’s, i.e. highly regular voters the ones who hold the vast majority of the property assets, cash and other financial assets of this country, as well as the corporates who export billions of dollars out of the country a year.

        Will we have a Left govt gutsy enough to do these necessary things to fund key gutsy and necessary initiatives for the country?

        Some of the most tech-savvy people I’ve ever met are the older people who didn’t grow up with a computer at home

        Yep. Teaching kids how to use iPads is a waste of time. You can teach a 60 year old who hasn’t used a computer before in her life how to use an iPad in an hour.

        If you want technologically savvy kids they have to learn about electronics, semiconductors, logic and programming. Not how to use dumbed down user applications and graphical user interfaces.

    • Frankie and Benjy Mouse 7.2

      ensuring access to fast broadband within low-decile schools.

      will not be as effective as fixing some other barriers in the NZ education system. For example new “Digital Technology” Achievement standards are available for NCEA (levels 1, 2 and 3) but some schools avoid teaching them as they are seen as too hard or take the simplest option within a standard.
      Junior classes (year 9 and year 10) in Digital technology aren’t taught in every school and may only be a small part of a general technology course. The courses must teach to the curriculum and assess it too. Problem? Well yes. Look at the Technology curriculum. Level 4 Achievement objectives for year 9. Thirteen year old computer whizzes will get put off the subject if that dominates.
      Comprehensive technical training of specialist teachers could have a big impact (some probably came into the teaching profession as typing teachers).
      Ministry of Ed and NZQA could lift their game also.

  8. Philj 8

    xox
    And a quality non commercial Public broadcaster, to lift us up and not dumb us down.

    • Macro 8.1

      Amen! to that.

    • Once was Tim 8.2

      +100
      (but we should not flog off TVNZ’s assets as we’ve done with other assets the public has built up. Rather we should recapture them as use them as was intended – as a public service. A cleanout of its management however is another story as is the case with other areas of the corporatised public service.)

  9. Minty 9

    Great post, collectively it’s vital to increase the export wealth of the country. We can’t focus on primary industries.

    We need to help develop the innovative and smart companies that are sending high value kiwi products, ideas and IP out to the world.

    All you need to look at is what happened last year to Fonterra with the health scare. Putting all your eggs in one basket is too risky.

    I am heavily involved in the export community and for the last few years been a judge for the export NZ awards. I am amazed each year at how much talent we have in the I.T and non traditional sectors. This year is no different.

    The Govt whoever it is needs to have policy in place to help grow these very smart and innovative sectors.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      EU (skewed) competitiveness
      A different analysis

      Indeed, one of the biggest myths propagated during the ‘eurozone crisis’ has been that the ‘periphery’ countries such as Greece and Italy, have been too ‘profligate’, while the more responsible ‘core’ has known when and how to ‘tighten its belt’. Figures suggest the opposite: the periphery did not spend enough on key expensive areas, like R&D, that cause growth.

      The same is true of NZ. We just don’t do the work that develops our economy.

    • Colonial Viper 9.2

      Gaining wealth through exporting is an economic development strategy of the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. And it can still be very effective in niche industries for niche NZ companies.

      But the export-your-way-to-wealth gravy train is over. Western markets are in permanent real economic decline. The oligarchs are ensuring that everyone else has to “tighten their belts” i.e. budgets and spending are being cut. Financialisation helps prop up the top line numbers in the OECD but the reality is that the western consumer its tapped out, aging and only a few years away from full retreat.

      The only real capitalist growth industries now are in boosting the western transition to a neo-feudal security and surveillance state.

      NZ needs to get ready for the next 30 years of sharp economic, resource and energy depletion. Import substitution is every bit as critical as new high value exports, and I would suggest even more so.

  10. Lloyd 10

    One way to speed development would be to strengthen the RMA by introducing NES for housing development

    An NES overcomes the anarchy of different rules throughout the country and makes designing one design to comply with nation-wide rules much easier for mass-production of housing. It is not the RMA that makes life difficult for developers working across the country, it is the DISTRICT PLANS.

    Paying the MFE staff a fair wage, increasing the appropriate MFE staff numbers and requiring several housing NES be introduced ASAP would be a good result for any politician of any party….

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • A further attack on transparency
    The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) had part of its committee stage yesterday. its a generally tedious bill about the nitty-gritty of local government reorganisation. But it includes a clause making the Local Government Commission subject to the Ombudsmen Act, and hence the OIA. Great! Except of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    18 mins ago
  • Ihumātao and Treaty settlements
    Yesterday Ihumātao's mana whenua reached a consensus that they would like their land back, and asked the government to negotiate with Fletcher's for its return. The government's response? Try and undermine that consensus, while talking about how doing anything would undermine existing Treaty settlements. The first is just more bad ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 hours ago
  • Protecting our history
    Its Suffrage Day, the 126th anniversary of women winning the right to vote (but not stand in elections) in New Zealand. And to celebrate, the government has bought Kate Sheppard's house in Christchurch:The government has bought Kate Sheppard's former home in Christchurch for more than $4 million. The Ilam villa ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 hours ago
  • Climate Change: Ostracising the coal-burners
    The UN climate summit is happening in new York next week, and unlike previous years, coal-burners and denier-states are not being invited to speak:Leading economies such as Japan and Australia will not be invited to speak at next week’s crunch UN climate change summit, as their continued support for coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 hours ago
  • Jojo Tamihere Salutes Herr Goff.
    Get Back Jojo! The elation in Mayor Phil Goff’s camp may be easily imagined as they watched social media light up in indignation at challenger John Tamihere’s "Sieg Heil to that" quip. Just when JT’s notoriously right-wing, sexist and homophobic stains were beginning to fade back into his ‘colourful’ past, ...
    8 hours ago
  • Hard News: A fun but flawed weed documentary
    Patrick Gower is good value when he's high. Not that I've ever, you know, got stoned with him. But in the second part of his documentary Patrick Gower on Weed, he does what you'd expect in a modern weed documentary and immerses himself – first with a doctor, then a ...
    17 hours ago
  • Candidate Survey: Western Bay of Plenty – Local Body Elections 2019
    We surveyed candidates on their attitudes to issues facing the Western Bay Region, find out what they think: “Closing the Gap” Tauranga, one of the area groups of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc., has surveyed all candidates in the three local body elections to discover attitudes to some basic issues ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    23 hours ago
  • Project Nettie calls on scientists to defend biology
    Please spread widely, and sign, to support science and rationalism over the new irrationalism sweeping universities and institutions.  PROJECT NETTIE Sexual reproduction, the generation of offspring by fusion of genetic material from two different individuals, evolved over 1 billion years ago. It is the reproductive strategy of all higher animals ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 day ago
  • I’m glad I don’t live in Auckland
    Just when I was thinking that Palmerston North's mayoral race (which includes a convicted child molester / public wanker and a convicted child beater) was the worst in the country, Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere opened his mouth:Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere is being slammed for using the words "sieg ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Index of Power Update, 2018-19: China #2
    We reprint below an article from the excellent website the Economics of Imperialism by Tony Norfield This is an update of the statistics for my Index of Power, using data for 2018-19 and discussing what a country’s ranking reflects. The major change is that China’s rank has shifted up and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 day ago
  • Climate Change: A history lesson
    Why is New Zealand climate change policy so crap? The Herald this morning has a long article on the twists and turns of climate change policy in New Zealand [paywalled / depaywall script], which shows where we've been. The short version is that the government first began worrying about this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • What the All Blacks Mean to Us
    The All Blacks have been, for more than a century, arguably the most successful International sports team in the world. But they are more than that; even for those Kiwis who are immune to the charms of rugby (and there are more than a few), the All Blacks are ambassadors ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 day ago
  • No one is born into the wrong body
    A short and incredibly powerful speech from a young lesbian woman. No one is born in the wrong body. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 days ago
  • Contempt
    Back in June, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that that country's continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. So you'd expect that the UK government stopped approving them, right?Of course not:The government has apologised for breaching a court ruling against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Covering up the cover-up
    Yesterday NZDF officials were put on the stand about the lies they had told over Operation Burnham, making implausible claims that it was all a big mistake. But along the way, we learned they had already been put on the spot about it by a previous Defence Minister, who had ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Not as important as they think they are
    Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    2 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    2 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    3 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    3 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    4 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

No feed items found.