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Grant Robertson’s pre-budget speech

Written By: - Date published: 2:59 pm, May 15th, 2015 - 59 comments
Categories: budget 2015, grant robertson, labour - Tags:

Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson gave his pre-budget speech this morning. “So, what would a responsible government be doing in the Budget next week?”…


Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce

by Grant Robertson on May 15, 2015

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me.

Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big part of my life- the beach. I was never much of a surfer myself, but there were plenty around me who were. I didn’t need the Met Service to tell me when there was an off-shore southerly. I just had to look around the empty seats during some afternoon classes. Surfing was a way of life for a lot of my classmates.

But not even they thought that surfing was the path to wealth and well-being. They knew that the waves eventually break, and that no one was going to pay them for sitting on the beach waiting for the next swell to arise.

Today, when I look at the New Zealand economy I am concerned that we are failing to learn the lesson the grommets of St Clair and St Kilda worked out all those years ago.

As a country we have been far too content to ride the wave of global commodity prices, soaking in the good times, and failing to prepare for when the waves break- the prices plummet. The National government is lacking a Plan B or C, and we run the risk that without some urgent attention there are very rough waters ahead.

And it is all so unnecessary. We should be doing better as a country than we are. We remain a country blessed with wonderful natural resources, and talented and driven people. New Zealand businesses and workers work harder than most equivalents around the world. The opportunity is there for New Zealand to build an economy, and, in turn a society that offers the quality of life to all its citizens that is the envy of the world. But it will not happen with a government as we currently have tinkering and sitting on the sidelines.

What I want to do today is look at the major issues facing the economy and the government as it prepares next week’s Budget, and offer Labour’s view on how we move past an economy built on riding commodity waves and housing bubbles, and onto an economy that generates sustainable wealth and opportunity for all its citizens.

Treasury tell us that there will be 3% growth this year. This is good news compared to countries struggling to find much growth at all, or going backwards. Yet many New Zealanders are not feeling it.

When we had growth of three per cent under Labour in 2006 there was a surplus of $7 billion and a jobless rate of just 3.7 per cent.

But this time around when we have 3% growth, we can’t generate a Budget surplus, the number of unemployed is on the rise again to 146,000 people, and in the last quarter wage growth was a pitiful 0.3 of 1%. It’s understandable people are asking what’s the point of growth if it does not deliver a dividend to our people?

I believe that this was the lesson behind the recent by-election in Northland. While John Key and Steven Joyce were busy telling people in Northland they have never had it so good, the reality of their lives was very different. It’s hard to believe that thousands of jobs have been created when you are facing an unemployment rate a tick under 10%.

That is the story I am hearing as I travel around New Zealand. In Gisborne this week I was incredibly impressed at the innovation and dedication I saw among small and medium sized businesses. But I listened to a host of concerns about their struggles to attract and retain skilled staff, lack of infrastructure and training opportunities.

The regions of New Zealand are feeling neglected, undervalued and left behind. And as a country we will not thrive again until we turn that around.

We have come to understand the regional inequality as being about what is happening in regions like Northland, Gisborne or Whanganui, and there is much to be concerned about there. But the ‘two New Zealand’s’ as articulated last year by Moody’s rating agency is now really a tale about the fortunate few and the rest.

And that is the challenge for John Key. Will his government only deliver for the fortunate few or will he look to close the growing gaps. Is he just the Prime Minister for Parnell or is he also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill?

You know the median income for a family in Parnell is double that of a family in Pine Hill. The number of people unemployed in Pine Hill is double that of people in Parnell. Goodness even the houses in Parnell are making a killing, with the median house price in Parnell $500,000 more than in Pine Hill. The people of Pine Hill or Putararu or Palmerston North need a Prime Minister and a government who back them just as much as those in his own neighbourhood.

And this is not just about where you live. We will not thrive as a nation unless we give every citizen the opportunity to succeed. Andrew Little has clearly stated Labour’s view that we must generate wealth before we can distribute it. The challenge we must face up to is to ensure that the chance to generate that wealth is available to all.

Letting geography or accident of birth be the defining characteristics of our citizen’s lives means individuals miss out or are left behind, but also means we as a country are poorer. The OECD has joined the chorus of those who are acknowledging that a fair go for everyone means a more wealthy society. They said last year that the increase in income inequality in New Zealand over two decades from the 1980s has reduced our economic growth rate by more than 10%.

Addressing inequality is fundamental to our future well-being as a society. As a recent report from an Amercian think tank said, “for democracies to thrive rising prosperity must be within the reach of all citizens.”

So how have we reached this point? One of the answers is to look at what is driving that growth. To begin with we have to take account of migration. We are experiencing strong flows of people into New Zealand. This is a mixture of the need for labour to work on the Canterbury re-build, and also the deteriorating economic conditions in Australia. International student numbers are also back up, particularly from India. If we take all of that into account, and actually look at growth per capita, it reduces from 3.3% to 1.8%.

Then we need to look carefully at what is driving the rest of that growth figure. There is no doubt the Canterbury earthquakes were not only a devastating event for the people of that region, but also a significant shock to the New Zealand economy in 2011 and had a negative impact on the books. But the reality of 2015 is that the re-build of Canterbury is now propping up the economy. Economists estimate it to be almost a third of GDP growth. Great while you can get it. But the reality is the re-build peaks this year and next year stops being part of the growth story.

The other issue that will not have escaped you is that the growth figures to this year include a record payout to our dairy farmers. Dairy was leading the pack of a set of commodity prices that have boomed over recent years. The April ANZ Commodity Index showed prices across a range of commodities had dropped 15% in the last year.

In dairy the last of the $8.40 farmgate payments are happening now. The latest forecast payout for the coming season is $4.50. That represents $7 billion coming out of the New Zealand economy. That’s tough not just for the farmers who have to manage that, it’s also tough for the communities around them. Our estimate is that for Otago that represents $350 million that will disappear next year.

Our over-reliance on dairy (it is one-third of our merchandise exports) and the failure of this government to diversify the economy is now a serious risk to our economic security.

This was the blunt message that Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler delivered this week. He joked that he does not use terms like “rockstar economy”, but his clear statement about the significant risks attached to falling dairy prices and the overheated Auckland housing market are both marks against the government’s economic management.

I know talk of the Auckland housing crisis can be pretty boring for folk south of the Bombay Hills. But it matters for all of us for several reasons. While those of us from further south might wallow in the struggles of the Blues in the Super 15 this year, we do need Auckland to thrive as a city. It is our only truly internationally competitive city, and attracts a great deal of business activity and income for our country.

But it is, literally, bursting at the seams. Auckland Council estimates that there is an historic shortfall of 20,000 houses in Auckland. They need to build a further 10,000 a year to keep up with demand but in the last year only 7,700 building consents were granted. In turn average house prices in Auckland have exploded to $800,000, rising by 18% in the last year and 60% rise since 2008.

This matters to all of us. If the bubble bursts it will cause ripple effects across New Zealand. Domestic demand in the economy is high at the moment, and some of that is built off the apparent wealth of Auckland property owners. Moreover it is no exaggeration to say that you are paying higher interest rates today in Dunedin than you should be if it were not for the Auckland housing crisis. The Reserve Bank Governor would have lowered interest rates, now among the highest in the OECD, if it were not for his fear of pouring petrol on the overheated market.

In any event New Zealand will not get wealthy as a country selling houses to each other or to offshore speculators who are not interested in living in New Zealand but can see a quick buck to be made. We also will not get wealthy relying on riding the wave of commodity prices to deliver us long term sustainable growth and decent jobs. And we cannot rely on rebuilding from disaster to prop up our economic future. We need more than an economy built on milk, houses and disaster.

And that is what New Zealanders should be seeing in next week’s Budget. We should be seeing the plan to diversify our economy, support and grow exports, grow our regions, build affordable housing and invest wisely in our education, research and development and our infrastructure.

So, what would a responsible government be doing in the Budget next week?

To start with, it would keep its promises. For the last two elections National has promised New Zealanders that there would be a Budget surplus this year. No one underestimates the challenges that have been thrown at our country, through the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes. They were going to have an impact. But we were well prepared by, as economist Brian Easton calls it, the Cullen Cushion. We had zero net debt, we had saved for the rainy day and it allowed us to do better than others.

Four years on from the quakes and the GFC, the National Party has said that their management of the economy would deliver a balancing of the books in this year. Those promises were made in the last election campaign fully aware of the state of the global economy, the prediction of a five year global milk glut and the projections for low inflation. Yet this was still the test that National set itself, and it will fail. Actually Treasury is predicting it is likely to fail to get there in 2016 as well unless there is a remarkable rebound in global dairy prices.

When I grew up here in Dunedin we learned that a promise is a promise, that if you say you are going to do something then you keep your word. That very basic premise will be breached next Thursday.

Failure to get to surplus also means failure to meet another commitment from the government- to pay down any of our $88 billion of debt. It also means a failure to restart contributions to the NZ Super Fund.

We have a government fiddling, flummoxing and failing on the economy, and all the while leaving future generations with the bill for it. It is, in short, irresponsible. Out of touch and out of ideas this is set to be a Budget bereft of the vision and focus we need.

I want to highlight four areas that should be the focus of the Budget effort, or indeed should have been the focus of the last six Budgets as well.

Firstly, showing how the New Zealand economy will diversify and develop to ensure we are not so reliant on global commodity prices. And this is not just about dairying. I didn’t think that there was anything that could dent my enjoyment of the Hurricanes winning run this year, but as I walk along the concourse to the Stadium in Wellington to my right is pile after pile of raw logs being sent off overseas for someone else to add value to them and sell the products back to us. We urgently need investment in new and added value industries to help grow the decent and high paying jobs of the future.

We need investment in sectors like ICT, high value manufacturing, wood processing and biomedical science. We need to look to the sectors that will support high paying jobs and protect and enhance the environment.

At the same time we must re-double our efforts to support exporters and small businesses who will drive growth in jobs. Exports in the year to March fell by 2%. Our annual trade deficit is $2.4 billion, the largest since the height of the GFC in 2009. The much vaunted promise by the National government to lift exports to 40% of GDP is now being re-written as they slip backwards below 30%.

Secondly the Budget should show a real commitment to invest in our regions. While Auckland has its place as our largest city, we will not generate the wealth and lifestyle we want for future generations with such a focus on one region.

I believe this requires an active policy of targeted financial investment, support for research and development through tax credits, stronger innovation partnerships, procurement policies that give Kiwi firms a fair go, support for education, especially regional polytechnics and encouragement of positive migration to the regions.

Imagine what Dunedin could be if a government got alongside this city and this region with those policies?

– We could have a thriving high value, high tech manufacturing sector built of the success of the Hillside workshops, spawning other companies making the use of the cluster of engineers and designers attracted to the city.

– There would be new companies sprouting from the confidence given by a research and development tax credit, and the collaborations with universities and crown research institutes, including AgResearch’s thriving base at Invermay

– Imagine Otago Polytechnic operating as a Centre of Excellence for design attracting the best and brightest from around the country and around the world.

– And of course we would have the services and infrastructure to back that up- a modern hospital, good schools and decent broadband. Not just won in a competition but here and in other regions because it is the key to our future.

Our approach to the regions is not about picking winners from a list of companies we know from the Koru Club- it is about backing the talent and ideas that are in the region. It’s about forming a partnership with local government, business, and educational providers. It’s about investing wisely- not taking a punt on the whim of a Minister.

The third area that this Budget should focus on is taking the steps to make housing affordable for all New Zealanders. While the Reserve Bank can try to deal with some of the demand issue, the government cannot outsource housing policy to them. It is high time for the government to clamp down on foreign speculators and ensure affordable housing is being built.

Labour’s KiwiBuild policy was our attempt to deal with that issue. My challenge to the government is that if that is not the right answer, what is yours? Surely it can’t be to sell state houses and tinker about with the RMA? New Zealanders deserve better than that.

Finally, the Budget should be investing in our future wealth and well-being through education and training to prepare for a new economy. This is one of the reasons Labour has established our Future of Work Commission that I am chairing.

Andrew Little has asked me to lead this group to identify how we will ensure that we take the opportunities of the changing nature and experience of work. Massive change is ahead. 47% of jobs in the USA have been identified as being at high risk from technological change. And this is not just robots replacing forklift drivers, it is in the professions like accountancy and law. We need to ensure our education system is preparing people for the jobs of tomorrow, and to be global citizens.

We need a greater focus on ensuring that young people are receiving quality careers advice and that schools are supported to partner with business and tertiary providers to give them the best guidance on their next steps. We desperately need a strategic approach to education and training to take the opportunities of the new economy.

I got a wonderful start in life growing up in this city. I didn’t feel that my chances in life were any less than someone who was growing up in Auckland. My vision is for an economy that provides the opportunities I had to all our people

I know we must be careful and prudent with the country’s books (goodness I come from a Scottish Presbyterian background after all) but we must not believe that the economy is the end in itself.

Our legacy should be an economy that delivers decent work across New Zealand from the engineers in South Dunedin to the farmers in South Otago. If you work hard and do your fair share there should be great opportunities here in New Zealand.

Our legacy should be a pay packet that sustains individuals and families. If you do a day’s work, the money you earn should be enough to support your family, and put a bit away for the future. We have so much going for us in New Zealand, no one should be left behind.

And fundamentally no matter who you are or where you live our legacy should be an economy that provides hope for a better tomorrow, for you and for your community.

Thank you.

59 comments on “Grant Robertson’s pre-budget speech ”

  1. Charles 1

    Fuckin Brilliant, a massive improvement from his last speech, which I ranted unfavourably about – good work Grant/speechwriters/Labour. Clarity, personality, positivity.
    Whatever any of us may personally think of the ideas, the positivity and focus and forward-looking nature of the speech is undeniable. Great stuff. They need to be careful about the us/them comparisons; for example, Pine hill vs. Parnell is too specific – and “accident of birth” was an excellent way to counter that – but jokes acknowledging that Auckland’s issues bore anyone south of the Bombay’s is vague enough to be allowable, inoffensive and understood. Remember, the media will talk up anything even vaguely negative, and that will come at the cost of getting people talking about the ideas.
    If Labour keep talking like this – especially the “four points” section – their message will smother anything less considered or articulate.

    • “.Whatever any of us may personally think of the ideas, the positivity and focus and forward-looking nature of the speech is undeniable..”

      ..so no substance – but lots of style..y’reckon..?

      ..aspiration-on-a-stick..eh..?

      • Charles 1.1.1

        Hello Phil, I read your opinions, I understand them, and I’m sure it warms your heart to know that I agree with them.
        Here’s the thing, though, there is more to politics than substance. Sounds crazy I know. Politics is a process, a terrain, a system.
        Last two elections were a one horse race. Not just a one horse race, but a one horse race in four seperate divisions. National ran against itself and won the only race that gave immediate power to do anything. Labour ran against itself and lost, but gained a plausible new leader, or three, and cemented their policy direction. The Greens ran a race against themselves, became a mature political voice, dropped some unique attitudes and became more mainstream, but failed to win anything immediate. Mana, ACT, and so forth went for King Hits, not a good idea for struggling or fledgling anythings. Both parties later died.

        With a speech like this from Labour, if they can maintain this kind of focus, it means NZ will have a three party election very soon and National won’t win. Until Labour steps back into the horse race, we have no political terrain – we have a one party state. National know it and pursue instilling hopelessness and apathy in the population at every opportunity by promoting arrogance and increasingly callous and audacious flippancy.
        It’s important, but understandibly difficult when we’re living the day-to-day reality, not to get caught up in the game National and their friends play. People must focus on every piece of constructive effort they can muster, even when knee or neck-deep in the shit, even if it’s just inarticulate and baseless optimism. Part of that is understanding that Labour are what they are in a policy direction sense, they aren’t going to and can’t change much from what is obvious. Want a focus on people? Look to the Greens, or anyone else, to get the “substance” required.

        Until Labour reclaim their major and traditional oppositional position, The Greens will have to wait for economic collapse, and the complete collapse of the Labour Party, to be a viable rule-alone party. Labour re-emerging boosts the natural evolution of our terrain. Love or hate them, we need them. Politics is reflective of culture, and the people of NZ don’t do giant leaps of cultural change. Before they support The Greens in large numbers, they have to know Labour is viably there, somewhere, in the background, to offset risk. Labour lost their focus, their internal balance, after Clark. If this speech is an accurate reflection of internal mood, they’re back – – see above why that’s important, whether you personally support them or not.

        There is, of course, a massive empty space in the political terrain where the fourth and fifth parties should be, and these will/should represent where NZ goes over the long term.

        So yeah, the speech is big on style, but to know what the style means in the larger context is to celebrate the effect it has for the future. Momentum attracts participants. If Little and Robertson and friends create a wave to ride, everyone surfs alongside them, in their own way. The energy required to create a wave can only come from a major party, it takes more to energy to start than to continue – unless you wait for an earthquake…

        • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1.1

          Until Labour reclaim their major and traditional oppositional position, The Greens will have to wait for economic collapse, and the complete collapse of the Labour Party, to be a viable rule-alone party. Labour re-emerging boosts the natural evolution of our terrain. Love or hate them, we need them. Politics is reflective of culture, and the people of NZ don’t do giant leaps of cultural change.

          I do understand what you are trying to get at. That NZ Labour has been a historical force in our politics and that its malaise has added to the malaise of the entire of politics to the extent that it will only be shaken off to the same measure with which NZ Labour can shake it off.

          But you are assuming that such a thing is possible at this stage; that fundamental revitalisation and renewal can occur with regards to Labour even though Labour is obviously stuck in the same gear, that they “are what they are in a policy direction sense, they aren’t going to and can’t change much from what is obvious. ”

          This to me is like wishing a 747 plunging into the ocean will be able to right itself in time to avoid impact even though no one is willing to or expecting to significantly change the configuration and position of the controls in the cockpit. It’s simply not going to happen. Three elections in a row, NZ Labour has lost big chunks of party vote. Why not four?

          Thorndon Labour believes in its heart of hearts that this time, the tide will come in and Labour’s long awaited victory with it. Newsflash: the climate has changed, and so has the entire ecosystem.

          Scotland doesn’t do giant leaps of culture change either. The Labour Party full stop could be said to have originated out of Scotland, ideologically, philosophically and practically. And maybe that is why Scotland has decided so decisively that Labour as it is now, is no longer fit to continue its historical mission.

          As for “needing Labour” – that reminds me of Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour Party leader, who had just lost his own seat and 39 others, saying to the TV cameras that now, more than ever, Scotland “needed” Labour.

          It seems even then, after seeing his party annhilated, he wasn’t listening to the voters.

        • phillip ure 1.1.1.2

          “.. Part of that is understanding that Labour are what they are in a policy direction sense, they aren’t going to and can’t change much from what is obvious..”

          hello charles..i don’t share that pessimisim as to the possibilities of labour getting its’ shit together..

          ..and becoming a true progressive party..

          ..and much of that change must be around the dying neo-liberal-asp they have clinging/clasped to their bosom..

          ..they need to reinvent themselves to what they once were…

          (and i am not talking about what they were like under clark..eh..?..that is a large part of their problem..)

          ..and from the speeches of both little and robertson – i see little sign of any such much-needed changes..

    • Brendon Harre 1.2

      I like the PM for Parnell comment about John Key. I think it is a metaphor for how National’s conservative status quo policies are privileging a small group of elite in our society. That John Key is not interested in being the PM for all kiwis.

  2. Atiawa 2

    Have to admit that I’ve heard it all before Grant. The message just ain’t getting through. Time to be a bit bolder and stop thinking you can run the capitalist system better than the Tories. Time to stop thinking that by promising a few extra crumbs everything will be alright. Time to tell the people that the flaws in the capitalist system will continue to deprive us of a future for ourselves and our children.
    Stop trying to be National fucking light and grow a pair.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    He should take it a little further – take out the real estate, Christchurch rebuild, and immigration components of ‘growth’ and present Bill English with a bill for lack of progress: the gap between 3% p.a. which an economy needs simply to remain competitive, and the 0.1 – 0.3% Bill actually delivers.

    There is no standing still, and under this useless and benighted government we have been going backwards – except for the speculators and crooks. We’re seven years at 3% – about 23% behind where a government that was basically competent would have put us.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      take out the real estate, Christchurch rebuild, and immigration components of ‘growth’

      Take out those and all indications are that NZ would be in a recession.

      • Stuart Munro 3.1.1

        Yup – the real state of our economic management.

        The Gnats pretend to be technocrats but are incompetent on a scale that makes Muldoon look like a saint and a genius. The difference is that they certainly know they’re running NZ into the ground, and laying up a legacy of grief for their successors.

        Knew a bloke in Korea who did economic policy for the Park government back when they were poorer than Somalia. His people were dying of starvation and the North were a real threat. He rebuilt the economy. National is doing none of the things that you do when you build an economy, and all the supposed economists in NZ are licking their hands. Tragic.

  4. Ovid 4

    You know the median income for a family in Parnell is double that of a family in Pine Hill. The number of people unemployed in Pine Hill is double that of people in Parnell. Goodness even the houses in Parnell are making a killing, with the median house price in Parnell $500,000 more than in Pine Hill. The people of Pine Hill or Putararu or Palmerston North need a Prime Minister and a government who back them just as much as those in his own neighbourhood.

    Having grown up in Pine Hill and with my parents still there, I want to emphasise that it’s quite a pleasant suburb. A lot of current and former 50s era state houses. Lots of green space – a couple of playgrounds. A small school – I believe the roll is under 50. I have seen some tagging on the local dairy on occasion, but that gets cleaned up pretty quickly – and there was a robbery there about 6 years ago. I had a good life there and families still can have good lives there and I’m glad there are places like that where average families aren’t priced out of the market.

    • Colonial Rawshark 4.1

      Yep, Pine Hill is an underrated suburb with a great mix of different people living there. Some quite interesting ones too 😛

    • Bill 4.2

      Bar the evil arse hill that must be climbed to get there, Pine Hill’s okay. So is NEV. So are many suburbs in Dunedin.

      But the social desert that overlays South Dunedin…different story that.

      • Invisible Axe 4.2.1

        What? South Dunedin is a great place to live, 5-10 minute walk to the beach, awesome second hand junk shops in the local shopping centre, its a real tight community here. I understand the statistics are shocking in regards to internet connected homes & unemployment & solo mums, but remember there are some very wealthy suburbs in South Dunedin too. & unlike the rest of Dunedin no fucking hills! So yeah, ‘social desert’ my arse, its a wonderful ‘hood.

        • Ad 4.2.1.1

          Robertson was unhelpfully straying into regional economic land, on which ground Labour are as vulnerable as National. As the result in Northland showed, no-one in such regions believes either major party take any notice of them.

          Despite the risks of envy and defensiveness Robertson opened up with such suburb comparisons, at least he was prepared to go there. Whole bunch better than Joyce trying to defend his government’s efforts for Westport.

    • Tracey 4.3

      There is also a Pinehill in Auckland. It is not a struggling suburb but is no Parnell either.

      • Bill 4.3.1

        Ah. I guess that was the Pine Hill he was referring to. Nothing like clarity in messaging…

      • Ad 4.3.2

        All depends how you pronounce it
        😉

      • just saying 4.3.3

        I thought it was a bit odd.
        Average Parnell house prices would be more like a $million more than those in Pine Hill Dn.

        In reponse to Ad above – Comparisons are important because of the ever-widening gaps, and because of the starvation of resources experienced by poorer areas. Unfortunately, I don’t think Robertson cares much. It’s just a rhetorical device in a marketing campaign for him.

        • red-blooded 4.3.3.1

          He was speaking as a guy who grew up in Dunedin, the speech had a clear Dunedin focus and was littered with Dunedin reference; he punctuated it “Pine Hill” – it seems pretty clear to me that he was making a Dunedin vs Auckland comparison, using a working class Dunedin suburb vs a socially advantaged Auckland one. The audience he was speaking to would have had no trouble decoding this.

          • weka 4.3.3.1.1

            Yep, the audience was the Otago Chamber of Commerce.

          • Tracey 4.3.3.1.2

            makes sense to me but I would have thought the disaprity was much bigger than he suggested.

            • just saying 4.3.3.1.2.1

              The dufus was way out.

              The median house price in Parnell is $1.12 million:

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/home-property/67922619/Parnell-and-other-unfashionable-Auckland-suburbs-resurge-as-property-hotspots

              He is being reported in the ODT as talking about Pine Hill in Dunedin. Which would make the median price of a house in Pine Hill, Dunedin $612,000. I suspsect this is more likely to be the median price of an Auckland suburb. Otherwise, Pine Hill has magically become the most expensive suburb in Dunedin.

              Making a speech pointing out how out of touch the government is…..
              sigh.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                Sigh indeed. I think you are quite right; my guess is that the median house in Pine Hill goes for around $250K (a bit less than for Dunedin as a whole). So way closer to being $1M apart rather than $500K. GR and his staff didn’t do their homework.

                • weka

                  Median house prices, based on sales, from QV.

                  Pine Hill $284,000

                  Parnell $678,500

                  Difference $394,500

                  https://www.qv.co.nz/resources/residential-sales-prices-by-suburb

                  I’d be inclined to take QV figures over that of a real estate agent. There’s probably some differences in exactly which streets are being counted too.

                  • just saying

                    $1,396,500

                    The median house price in Parnell according to the QV site you’ve linked to, Weka.
                    Did you adjuust the dwelling type to ‘house’?

                    • just saying

                      $1,282,400
                      The median property value in Parnell, Auckland, according to your link.

                    • weka

                      No, I left it as all dwellings (house, apartments etc). I assume if you put it as just houses, you take out the cheaper dwellings and the median becomes top heavy with very expensive mansions which doesn’t reflect the general housing in the area.

                    • just saying

                      Weka, Robertson was comparing house prices.

                      But the median figure for every kind of property in Parnell, including empty sections, is above a million dollars.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    That Parnell figure is way too low when you compare it to the median overall Auckland house price. Feb REINZ figures has the median Auckland house price at $675k, and Parnell would be amongst the most expensive suburbs within Auckland.

                    https://www.reinz.co.nz/shadomx/apps/fms/fmsdownload.cfm?file_uuid=78C3BB3A-8862-4108-8241-C86BB7EC2BD4&siteName=reinz

                    EDIT OK just saying has identified the same prob

                    • weka

                      Do you think ‘All Dwellngs’ includes sections on their own? I wouldn’t have thought so.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      As I suggested by my comment, no one in Auckland would believe that the median buy price into Parnell is $680K. And the overall Auckland median market price suggests that the number for Parnell is far too low. You don’t have to be defensive about it; it’s not your data and not your data tool which is out here.

                    • weka

                      It’s not defensiveness, I’m just trying to understand what you are talking about.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    The National government is lacking a Plan B or C

    They don’t need a Plan B or C as their Plan A to fuck over the economy is working fine.

    Andrew Little has clearly stated Labour’s view that we must generate wealth before we can distribute it.

    And that’s a load of BS as well. The simple fact is that we have the wealth, the resources, to provide everyone with a reasonable living standard. What we’re not doing is utilising those resources well and the rewards of the utilisation that we are doing is going to the few rather than everyone.

    So how have we reached this point?

    Oh, that’s easy – the 4th Labour government introduced a radical and highly destructive form of capitalism into NZ. Of course, all forms of capitalism are destructive even the benign form that we had and so, even without that introduction, we would still reached this point eventually.

    We should be seeing the plan to diversify our economy, support and grow exports, grow our regions, build affordable housing and invest wisely in our education, research and development and our infrastructure.

    And all of that requires and educated population and yet, for the last 20 odd years, NZ governments have been making it harder for the people of NZ to get that education. Reducing or removing student allowances and increasing fees when we need entry to study to be free. We can’t increase diversity by using the same old knowledge.

    EDIT: 10 Cuts The Government Has Made To Make Life Harder For Students In New Zealand

    A lot of that needs to be reversed and a lot more needs to be completely removed from the picture. We shouldn’t be burdening our young with enough debt to buy a house before their life starts.

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.1

      And all of that requires and educated population and yet, for the last 20 odd years, NZ governments have been making it harder for the people of NZ to get that education.

      And lets not forget that universities largely no longer teach curricula of any use for the future, and in some cases, churn out graduates likely to do great harm to the future.

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.2

      I also agree with you that buying into the Right Wing line that you have to “generate wealth” first before you can distribute it is pretty fucking BS. What are Labour going to do – prioritise the activity of the Wealth Generators (wealth creators) in our society?

      • Bill 5.2.1

        Labour are going to do precisely what UK Labour did – try to position themselves as better creators of wealth creating environments and better producers of surpluses than ‘the Right’. And people? Well, people be damned.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          And people? Well, people be damned.

          That does seem to be the case, yes:

          The Sovereign Wellbeing Index 2015 results found almost 40 per cent of New Zealanders only met with others socially once a month or less.

          Meanwhile, only 4 per cent of the 10,000 New Zealanders surveyed said they felt close to people in their local area.

          It seems that the neo-liberal revolution instigated by the 4th Labour government has succeeded in destroying society.

        • Colonial Rawshark 5.2.1.2

          Its like Labour Parties all around the world have pre-programmed their auto pilots to fly into the sea.

  6. “.. Andrew Little has clearly stated Labour’s view that we must generate wealth before we can distribute it..”

    back-door/excuse to do nothing for the poorest..

    ..’we have to grow grow grow first..!’

    ..what fucken bullshit – same as labour ’14..absolutely nothing for the worst off..

    ..meet the new boss – same as the old boss..

  7. Tracey 7

    I just don’t know how much traction the speech will get and who it will change? Business-people? rugby fans?

    We need growth (the “right” growth) so everyone can have a good paying job…

    I know trees were indirectly mentioned (as logs) but nothing about environment… little about people (really when you re-read it), but THIS is why I vote Green, to get

    people matter
    environment matters
    economy is a subset of those, not the Master

    • with his ‘log-words’ i was getting mike moore flashbacks..

      ..and steeling myself for lamb-burger-redux/visionary-idea..

      ..it was kinda ugly..

      ..and clearly – the maxim that the more things change the more they remain the same –

      – rings true here..with those log-words..

      ..which politician has not put their hand on their heart – and promised us that..eh..?

      ..it’s almost the bye-word for aspirational-bullshit – adding up to nothing..

  8. felix 8

    60 million????

    ffs Grant, how many flags could we get for that???

    Oh yeah, one. Probably.

    • the thing with that flag-thing..as someone pointed out the other day – is that the purported ‘cost’ of $26 million is just the beginning of what this pile of bullshit from key will cost..

      ..how much d’yareckon it will cost to replace all the flags in the country..?

      ..a bloody fortune..that’s how much..

      ..and if key gets his legacy-project thru..will it become illegal to fly the old one..?

      ..and/or will there be a quiet rebellion of most people/places still flying the old one..?

      ..i reckon labour/robertson should come out strongly on this issue..

      ..taking the stand that – sure there may be some time in the future..say when we become a republic – that a new flag could/should be discussed..(..i argue this as a ‘republican’ of long standing’..stick the royal family in a country-pile somewhere -and forget about them! – i say..)

      ..but that now is not that time for this…

      ..that other priorites dictate we don’t..

      ..and number-crunching that actual cost – over and above the already insulting $26 million to be pissed down the drain..

      ..wd be a powerful weapon in that rational/logical argument..

      ,.and polling already shows that most people don’t want this to happen now – by an overwhelming majority –

      – that issues like child-poverty concern them more than the circus this key ego-self-stroke-exercise is..

      ..c’mon labour..!..as someone else said:’grow a fucken pair!’..eh..?

      ..it’ll be a good exercise/practice for you..

      ..in how to be an opposition party/how to take/argue a complete opposite p.o.v..eh..?

      ..and while we are talking rational-financial-arguments to make by robertson/labour – how about getting yr staff to crunch the numbers on how much would be saved/made from a sane/rational policy on cannabis..?..eh..?..that cd be a good use of their time..

      ..how much wd be saved in imprisonment/enforcement-costs..

      ..and how much tax revenue wd be accrued by a policy of legalisation/regulation/taxation..

      ..i think you may be surprised by that final total/figure..

      ..and once again..wd be a powerful tool to use to mount that argument..

      ..(and once again..polling consistantly shows the vast majority of nz’ers support the ending of prohibition – what are you scared of/waiting for..?..)

      ..once again – as someone else said – how about ‘growing a pair’..eh..?

      http://whoar.co.nz/2015/comment-whoar-urge-labour-grow-pair-issues-flag-cannabis-law-reform/

      • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1

        ..how much d’yareckon it will cost to replace all the flags in the country..?

        ..a bloody fortune..that’s how much..

        Wouldn’t be so bad if the contracts went to NZ companies and NZ workers…except of course it will be the Chinese making the new flags

  9. AmaKiwi 9

    I am sorry, Grant. It is a poorly written speech.

  10. Ed 10

    A very good speech. It sets and agenda fore measurement of the budget, outlines reasonable current priorities, and should be able to be supported by everyone, unless they have such blinkered idealogical views that they cannot see the need for the current government to be replaced . . .

    • replaced by one that looks little different to the current-crew…?

      ….and one that stays the same it was during those wrong-footed clark-years..?

      ..with those same ‘wrong-footed’/neoliberal/fuck-the-poor! ideas/beliefs/polices..?

      ..no thanks..eh..?

      ..that wd just be change for changes’ sake..

      ..hardly progress – and very little ‘progressive’ there..eh..?

  11. Ad 11

    I’ve never particularly warmed to Robertson, but there were a couple of things about this speech compared to Little’s one that I liked.

    Firstly it was personalized.
    This is the way politics needs to be these days, because it is the all of the media understand and amplify it.

    Secondly because it sough to speak to our imagination with ‘what if’s’.
    In years ahead these kind of statements can hang you, but as a device it enables people to feel their way through what politics can do for their lives.

    Finally he dealt sufficiently with the economy as it is, including the dominance of Auckland and dairy. As a future Finance Minister he has to sound credible. He also couldn’t get past the tired old trope of logs at Wellington port. His sector focus is about the same as National’s because they both reflect the narrow range of sectors that exist here.

    Naturally I would want to see how this guy plays in Auckland, rather than preaching to his home, but there was stuff to like here.

  12. Sirenia 12

    Grant would have delivered this speech in his very personable, engaging way. People in Otago, including businesses, are feeling under siege from the Key government, so I expect this speech would have been warmly received, even by this group.

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