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Interest free student loans – still safe for now?

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 am, August 18th, 2016 - 58 comments
Categories: class war, debt / deficit, tertiary education - Tags: , , ,

A right-wing think tank blurts:

Interest-free student loans a ‘poor use of $6 billion taxpayers’ dollars’: report

The Government has written off $6 billion in interest on student loans in the last decade but a new report says the policy is a poor use of money and should be scrapped.

More than $1.5 million has been lent by the government to students in the last year alone and $602m was immediately written off, said Eric Crampton, head researcher at the New Zealand Initiative.

Yes, that’s the policy. Because $15 Billion in student debt is TOO MUCH ALREADY.

The loan scheme is a poor use of $6 billion and ultimately it’s a subsidy for “upper and middle class households who can afford to pay their own way,” he said.

That is true if and only if tertiary education is populated by the children of “upper and middle class households”, which it isn’t. And if it was, what a sad indictment of education in NZ that would be!

Labour Party education spokesman Chris Hipkins says scrapping interest-free student loans would “reinforce inequity”.

Exactly.

But both National and Labour are agreed – the right wing think-tank has got it wrong and neither party has any intention of getting rid of the scheme.

Crampton says politically the policy is a win and no party at the mercy of voters would want to get rid of it but in terms of increasing the number of students with degrees and the number of poorer students attending – it’s failed on both counts.

However,Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce disputes that and says official figures show 20,800 students completed bachelor degrees in 2008 and since 2012 the number of students has been in excess of 25,000.

He says the issue is about trade-offs and the government has it about right.

And interesting acknowledgement, given the way the Nats howled about interest free loans when Labour introduced them.

58 comments on “Interest free student loans – still safe for now?”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    There are two types of student loan ‘ interest writeoffs’

    Firstly for students who are still studying, their interest is written off immediately

    Secondly for those who are out of study but paying at least the minimum to repay the amount borrowed any interest on the amount borrowed is written off.
    ( I hope I have the basics right- there may be an income threshold)

    • Chooky 1.1

      ..except for those young NZers living overseas….they get interest heaped on their loans and met at the airport if they are not paying through the nose…criminal really

      • dukeofurl 1.1.1

        Those are only people who have never paid any back, it may be interest free but its never principal free.
        Plus they dont respond to attempts to contact them. They are stealing from the taxpayer so deserve it as they discredit the whole scheme for people who do play by the rules.

        • Chooky 1.1.1.1

          “Those are only people who have never paid any back”…that is simply NOT true for a start

          …”Plus they dont respond to attempts to contact them.”…where is your evidence for this?…again not true!

          “They are stealing from the taxpayer so deserve it”… again not true! … many New Zealand taxpayers believe in supporting students through tertiary study for the good of New Zealand

          …and the rest is not true either!( fallacious arguments all)

  2. Lanthanide 2

    My partner has a phd, and over $50k of student debt. If interest were still being charged on loans, he would likely have gone to Australia after completing his degree, to earn enough money to keep up with the interest. It’s reasonably likely that I would have also gone with him, as I’d probably still have had a small amount left on my student loan too (as it was, I paid mine off in 2010 I believe, 4 years after graduating).

    Instead, it’s interest-free to stay in NZ. He’s now set up his own engineering company and employs 3 people, looking to hire 2-3 more over the next 12 months or so.

  3. Righty right 3

    There getting loans interest free the very least the student should do in pay back there student loans the government could package these loans up and sell them off get some of our money back

    • North 3.1

      Gosh you’re a box of tricks Righty Right. One minute you’re quite insightful next minute you want to throw people to the wolves. On which occurrence bankruptcy (the earlier adjudicated the better) would become more de rigueur than starry-eyed love declarations for John Key by T’Audrey and Trev’ of The Herald. Unless of course the love object were to exclude usual bankruptcy rules for the benefit of his pals the private wolves.

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        The government borrows at (say) 2.5% and lends it out to students at ( currently) 4.8%
        Its making money Rr, surely you could love that

  4. ianmac 4

    A bit puzzling that, “More than $1.5 million has been lent by the government to students in the last year alone and $602m was immediately written off, said Eric Crampton, head researcher at the New Zealand Initiative.”
    Was that $602million a debt written off, or was it what would have been gained had interest been charged?
    And the $6billion?

    • dukeofurl 4.1

      Its interest written off. They way it works is the account is sent with ‘interest due’ shown which then has a corresponding credit for interest written off. Interest is calculated daily too which is pretty tough if you dont qualify for interest free.

  5. keith ross 5

    I listened to the American tell us how to do it and could not believe that he really thinks that making it more un-affordable would be bettor for the poorer students . In America this would be ridiculous to not make money off the education of your children but this is NZ not Alabama. We used to care about our own population and how well they were doing. Now they are all about how to make money off everything and everyone ,winners and losers(mostly losers under neoliberal capitalism). Everyone can’t afford to have their daddy pay for them while they invest their loan into the banking system. Two points about this. The money from the loan could of been used to pay for the study and the money from daddy could of been used to invest it makes no difference when you have money from two sources which one is then put where. The money is still the same when pooled. The second point is that is this really a problem ? I have never met anyone who has the spare money and the deceit to do this. On the loan agreements there are provisions for this must be for what you say it is for. To borrow 1000 dollars for expenses which you must state what they are and then not to follow through is surely illegal under our present system. I am at Otago Polytechnic right now and I personally know several students who have given up study or are thinking about quitting as they have not enough to pay their bills.Most can starve the bills off for a while but they eventually catch up on you. I need a job as I have to pay x by x is a common line among the non well off. Jobs are not easy to come by for a student in Dunedin and it hampers study in technical subjects to have to get out and work .
    His comments may be true in America but are out of touch in NZ

    • North 5.1

      Keith Ross – “I listened to the American tell us how to do it…….”

      Yes, their fraudulent claims to objectivity and technical excellence by use of spin words like “Initiative”, “Foundation” and “Institute” are appalling. Such types truly are Ugly Americans.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Polytechnic right now and I personally know several students who have given up study or are thinking about quitting as they have not enough to pay their bills.

      Yep, our present system makes it almost impossible to actually be able to afford to finish study.

    • aj 5.4

      “Two points about this. The money from the loan could of been used to pay for the study and the money from daddy could of been used to invest it makes no difference when you have money from two sources which one is then put where. The money is still the same when pooled. The second point is that is this really a problem ? I have never met anyone who has the spare money and the deceit to do this. On the loan agreements there are provisions for this must be for what you say it is for. To borrow 1000 dollars for expenses which you must state what they are and then not to follow through is surely illegal under our present system”

      Totally true and never addressed by the Eric Crampton’s of this world. Kathryn Ryan to her credit confronted (weakly) Crampton about the lack of evidence for his case of loan abuse. It. Is. Total. BS

  6. Pat 6

    curiously there is no mention of the default/write-off level when student loans were subject to interest nor the rate of graduates heading offshore under the previous regime.

    The flaw in their argument is the fact the bulk of the defaults are by overseas based graduates who are subject to interest from the day they leave the country.

    • Chooky 6.1

      yes and ironically they leave the country in order to find work to pay off their student debt

      • In Vino 6.1.1

        I always believed that student debt is a nasty Right-Wing crime directed against a Social Good (Education), and I agree with Keith (comment 5) and his supporters.

  7. shorts 7

    whenever this lot publish their “research” I have to remind myself they’re the new face of the previously known Business Roundtable – an organisation many of us know by deed and history – i.e. we knew exactly what they stood for

    Everytime this mob publish their drivel I would suggest The Standard (at least) put something along the lines of the New Zealand Initiative previously known as the Business Roundtable – as that will easily identify the agenda to readers and posters

    • Pat 7.1

      their case is so weak and their presentation (as displayed on RNZ this morning) so unconvinced that it is evident it is nothing more than an attempted distraction.

      • shorts 7.1.1

        I’m not sure about the distraction – changing public perceptions is a long game

        • Pat 7.1.1.1

          true enough…and persistence is key, however it could serve both purposes…an immediate and long term goal.

    • Richard Christie 7.2

      Agreed, worse, the rump of whatever journalistic media that NZ still retains portray the NZ Institutes’ periodic self-serving propaganda offerings as “reports” , which implies they are commissioned or sought by some official body, or governmental agency, that has responsibilities towards policy development.

      Still, it’s understandable when you realise that the owners of our news services, big business and right wing think-tanks are all in it together. Thick as thieves.

  8. Irascible 8

    I suspect that the report was plagiarised as I read a similar piece of “research” from a USA based “think tank” last week.
    Here’s one of the “think pieces” that read in much the same way as the one released in NZ today.
    http://freakonomics.com/2011/09/19/forgive-student-loans-worst-idea-ever/

  9. We recommended reinstating interest on loans and using the savings to fund stronger tertiary preparation, especially in schools with poor track records in getting kids through to tertiary; we also recommended some of the savings be put into means-tested programmes for tertiary study. I thought it also could help fund the kind of career guidance programmes that Chris Hipkins has suggested.

    Tim Hazeldine, Prof of Econ at Auckland Uni, and not generally held to be part of the economic right, recommended reinstating interest on loans and using the savings for reducing tuition fees. http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/8197323/Bitter-pill-should-be-swallowed

    Susan St John, also at Auckland Uni, and of the Child Poverty Action Group, recommended looking at reinstating interest as a way of funding other forms of student support.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/310013/rethink-interest-free-student-loans-child-poverty-group

    For what it’s worth, I’m Canadian, not American. I suppose whether I’m ugly or not is debatable, but I once again thank the Standard for its expected quality of commentary.

    • Pat 10.1

      assuming your proposals were implemented what is your projection for resident Kiwis tertiary education numbers and what distribution (polytech/university) changes?

    • Lanthanide 10.2

      Did you try and quantify the number of graduates who are explicitly staying in NZ because of the interest-free student loans, who otherwise would have gone overseas in search of higher wages to pay their interest?

      As I noted at #2 above, my partner has a phd and over $50k of student loan debt, which he is paying back at the minimum rate. He graduated just after the CHCH earthquakes struck and so ended up working night-shift in a plastics moulding factory barely above minimum wage because that was the only job he could get.

      If interest were being charged on his loan, he almost certainly would have gone to Australia. Instead he’s stayed in NZ and has now started his own engineering firm that currently employs 3 people and is looking to employ another 2-3 over the next 12 months. If he had gone to Australia, I probably would have gone with him, and this country would have lost two high-earning workers.

      So yes, charging interest might save some money up front. But how much would the country lose from further brain drain? Did you even try and quantify that?

      If not, your study isn’t worth much.

    • North 10.3

      Oh Crampton you can do better than that. The “Ugly……” I mention is the fake claim to objectivity advanced by use of spin words. It’s not necessarily silver-fox-coiffing a la the US Congress but then you know that.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.4

      We recommended reinstating interest on loans and using the savings to fund stronger tertiary preparation,

      Or we could get rich people to pay their taxes. That’d be ~$6 billion per year. Enough to fully fund study without fees or student loans.

      Tim Hazeldine, Prof of Econ at Auckland Uni, and not generally held to be part of the economic right, recommended reinstating interest on loans and using the savings for reducing tuition fees.

      He’s obviously stupid and wrong. All that reinstating interest will do is make young people even more in indebted or just not doing the study.

      Of course, that does seem to be the purpose of student loans and fees anyway.

      • Chooky 10.4.1

        +100 DTB…New Zealand students should be VERY WARY of these NeoLib immoral creeps!

        ( the Neolibs are cannibals of the young…in this case we have paid foreigners recommending we eat our own)

        …students need to get their act together and become a political force to change this government

    • Chooky 10.5

      This is a disguised cunning way of making New Zealand students and their families even more debt ridden

      (and slaves for the rest of their lives…as in the USA where $1.3 trillion in student debt is owed… Its a profit center for Wall Street and the government )

      https://www.revealnews.org/article/who-got-rich-off-the-student-debt-crisis/

      …”One of the winners in the profit spree behind this debt: the federal government. By the Department of Education’s own calculations, the government earns in some years an astounding 20 percent on each loan.

      “The United States government turns young people who are trying to get an education into profit centers to bring in more revenue for the federal government,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said on the Senate floor in February. “This is obscene. The federal government should be helping students get an education – not making a profit off their backs.”…

      ( New Zealand students and their families should NOT fall into the trap of American students and become debt slaves for the rest of their lives…they should VOTE this NACT government out !)

    • McFlock 10.6

      We recommended reinstating interest on loans and using the savings to

      yadda yadda yadda.
      1) Interest payments on student loans not “savings”, they’re “fleecings”.
      2) if any sector is underfunded, raise taxes on the private benefits of education rather than taxing education. Tax the higher income folk when they have a higher income. Because we need educated people in all walks of life.

      • In Vino 10.6.1

        +1 McFlock
        When people like Crampton talk about ‘using savings’ from their profit-gouging usury, we should all see the double-talk for what it is.
        A healthier, more moral society with greater insight would revert to the older religious practice of banning all usury – ie, any charging of interest at all.
        Flat wage increases instead of percentage-based ones would help. If John Key got a tiny percentage increase that gave him $5,000 a year more, so should everybody, including those on minimum wage. The full $5,000. That way, we could work to decrease the abominable and increasing gap between rich and poor.
        The percentage system is a rich man’s rort. Ban all interest, including on savings. Savings are on a loser rate anyway.

  10. Righty right 11

    I would agree if the students were given 2 to 3 years Intrest free on which time could be used to hammer the principle to ratchet a 20 yo with interest is not fair if the little prick makes no attempt of repayment then interest should whaked on and debt sold .There need to more education on the dangers of debt the way we handing out money is a form of predictor lending

    • Pat 11.1

      you do understand that anyone working in NZ with a student loan has their wage/salary garnished?

      • Righty right 11.1.1

        They still represent an asset that could be sold to kiwi saver funds if Intrest was charged

        • Pat 11.1.1.1

          they still can be…they are listed as an asset now…..assuming you see that as a positive. Of course that is merely bookkeeping slight of hand in any case as either way the risk is carried by the taxpayer…..unless of course your intention is to sell to an offshore interest?

  11. Observer Tokoroa 12

    .
    . To: Eric Crampton

    . Why should students be charged Interest Eric? Wouldn’t you be better to go out and enforce taxation on the many wealthy who exempt themselves to a greater or lesser extent.

    Neither students nor any PAYE person can wriggle out of Tax. Only the self employed and the wealthy thumb their nose at Tax. The Corporations too.

    The State wishing to make money out of student loans is appalling. Every normal person knows that. Usury enforced on the young,

    There is plenty of money for you to collect from tax avoiders.

    As regard the Professor of ECON loading up interest debt on students so as to reduce the cost of tuition, seems like a pea and thimble trick. Let the good professor pay more Tax. Strange man.

    Will you be writing a paper on all the ways a student should be ripped off. A tax on visiting a UNI toilet ? A tax on using the UnI corridors?. A Tax on drinking water from the Uni taps. A Tax on using chairs and desks.
    .
    .

  12. save nz 13

    When we get a refund cheque from the Natz members in parliament and the business roundtable for their free education paid completely by the tax payer and the interest on top of that, then we can take them seriously. Not before.

    Likewise can we have a refund from John Key and Paula Bennet for all the social welfare they received as children and growing up?

    I mean if they are serious about user pays…

  13. Gabby 14

    I’m sure Mr Crapton would approve of interest rates tailored to the wealth of students’ parents.

    • You_Fool 14.1

      Maybe tied to the weath/income of the student. Therefore as the graduate earns more they pay more tax.

      That said, just enforce current tax laws and we get the same thing

  14. Chooky 15

    …and in Britain

    ‘Homeward bound: 50% of grads who paid £9k-a-year tuition fees are living with parents, report says’

    https://www.rt.com/uk/356250-students-parents-tuition-report/

    “Students often dream of a nice house and fancy car after graduating from university, but a new report has revealed almost half of the first cohort who paid £9,000 a year in tuition fees are living back home with their parents.

    The National Union of Students (NUS) report highlighted the post-university situation of the first graduates to have paid £9,000 (US$11,700) per year in tuition fees, after costs were hiked in 2012.

    The report’s findings revealed that 47 percent of students were living with their parents seven months after graduating.

    But the bad news didn’t end there. Seven out of 10 students surveyed said they were concerned about the student debt they had accumulated, and half thought their degree wasn’t worth the fees. More than three-quarters of graduates said they are concerned the government might change the terms of their student loans to make them pay back more…

  15. Cinny 16

    Tertiary education should be free for all citizens. Those whom gain a qualification for any skill that there may be a shortage of in the near future should be given an incentive and a hook up for employment.

    The only reason any would try to suppress education is to gain control. A highly skilled educated population would be of huge benefit to NZ.

    Time to look to the future

    • b waghorn 16.1

      If it’s free how do you stop the students that go to uni for years and pass nothing ,

      • Cinny 16.1.1

        Limit the time, I like labours ideas on tertiary education. 3 is always a good number, 3yrs 😀 and it would enable many adults to retrain as some of their current jobs are replaced or scaled down due to advances in technology.

        Get a small incentive at the end when you receive your qualification. As well some whom may not gain their qualification will at least have some new skills to add more value to their life, future employment etc.

        Some whom fail at education are sometimes not that interested in what they are studying, so the advisor in the secondary school could help prevent that.

        • McFlock 16.1.1.1

          nah – you have postgrads, people who change degrees mid way, people who retrain mid-life, and older studiers used to be quite good examples for the young.

          I say make it free for everyone, but have policies on academic progression in funding so the establishments don’t have an incentive just to put bums on seats while educating nobody.

      • DS 16.1.2

        Universities already have procedures in place for perpetually failing students.

      • keith ross 16.1.3

        People who go to uni for years and pass nothing would not be readmitted to many institutions, as far as I am aware as the funding is worked out on a formula that is tied to a certain amount (%) that must pass (among other things). Maybe it was like that when you went but, thankfully, it does not reflect the reality today. You may find it quite a lot different now.

      • Nic the NZer 16.1.4

        You don’t. The waste of time involved is enough dis incentive anyway.

    • miravox 16.2

      Yup, I agree with this. For those who meet the entry requirements* tertiary education should be free.

      *which can and should be varied (I left school without qualifications so my entry requirements were being aged over 25 and passing a test).

      I don’t agree with time limits though. I can see the appeal, but it doesn’t work in practice. There would have to be so many exemptions to the limit that it’s cumbersome and has a whiff of unfairness. I agree with McFlock -the focus should be on academic progression.

      [With my academic background I should have a few disclaimers on that last paragraph]

  16. RedBaronCV 17

    The other thing we could do is to chop some of the exorbitant high end salaries the Universities pay. Lower down staff are worked hard and paid poorly but once the loans were interest free tuition fees exploded ( Basic degree went from $10000 to $20000 over about three years) so a large part of the interest free “benefit” was grabbed by those at the top of the Uni’s salary scale.

  17. Philj 18

    Let’s not forget the income to universities from overseas students and the marketing departments competing for ‘customers’. The system is totally back to front and these perverse outcomes are totally predictable. These are not unintended consequences.

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    This is the advice from the very top of the anti-fluoride movement – Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Don’t worry about reading  up on all the scientific information “You only have ...
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 10
    . . April 4: Day 10 of living in lock-down… I wake up to a fine Saturday morning which normally would be like an early Christmas. But it’s Day 10 of Level 4 Lock Down. What  will my fellow New Zealanders be doing on a day like this – staying ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Redline reaching out to more writers & readers
    Some time during the night we went over the 850,000 views mark. We might have had our millionth view by the end of this year – certainly by early next year. Most of the people involved in Redline spent years and years producing various small left-wing papers and selling them ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • Keir Starmer elected
    Comfortably, in the very first round, with an impressive 56% of the votes.I wonder, did members of the Shadow Cabinet start tweeting their resignations during Starmer's victory speech, or is that only a trick the right pull?It is odd how all the talk of how the next leader "needs to ...
    4 days ago
  • Hard News: Michael Baker and the Big House
    One of the key voices in this extraordinary time in which we live is that of University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker. Philip Matthews did an an excellent job this weekend of capturing the way he became the man for this moment in a profile for The Press.But one ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand Gives up on Trying to Save Daylight
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the nation today about the decline in daylight New Zealand has been experiencing over the previous few months. She said “As many of you will notice, our attempts to stem the dwindling of the daylight over the last few months have been completely ...
    Can of wormsBy Can of Worms, Opened
    4 days ago
  • A bulletin from Greece
    Redline received this article from the KOE a Marxist party in Greece Our friends in the KOE describe here the mounting crisis in Greece and tensions on the Turkish border. As desperate people flee from their homelands which have been ruined after decades of imperialist wars and interventions the people ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • And God spake all these words, saying
    As the first week of Level Four lockdown unfolded, mounting questions grew as to just what was (and was not) allowed under its “rules”. Partly these were driven by some apparently contradictory messages from different authority figures and explanations carried in the media. Partly they reflected a somewhat sketchy legal basis ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 9
    . . April 3: Day 9 of living in lock-down… Another late-start to my work day. Everything is temporarily upended as clients are shuffled around so we can minimise our “bubble” by reducing the number of people we help. One of my colleagues has been removed from his clients; his ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Death to our lockdown enemies!
    We must root out the traitors among us! ...
    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: The benefits of electrification
    In order to meet our 2050 carbon target and do our bit to avoid making the Earth uninhabitable, New Zealand needs to decarbonise our economy, replacing fossil fuels with electricity in the energy, industrial and transport sectors. The good news is that it will mean cheaper power for all of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of a pretty flower, .   . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a cute animal video. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8
    . . April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down… Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • A note on apartments and bubbles
    As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks. Recent decades have ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    6 days ago
  • Getting in futures shape 
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Lenin Don’t we all know that feeling now.

    Prospect Magazine alerted me to this particularly apt quote. It is a much more evocative quote than Hemingway’s “gradually then suddenly” which is also doing ...

    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Maybe axing Clark would be unfair. But what about any of this is fair?
    Yesterday was the day the consequences of the lockdown suddenly got very real for many. Firms have been closing and laying people off since the outset of the quarantine but this has mostly been happening out of the public eye. The mass closure of a number of iconic New Zealand ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    6 days ago
  • Might a ‘Coasean’ social contract mitigate overall societal harm from COVID-19?
    Brian Williamson1, Prof Nick Wilson2 (1Economic consultant, UK; 2University of Otago Wellington) In this blog, we outline how a win-win social contract could be forged to address the major dimensions of response to the COVID-19 pandemic when using a mitigation strategy: the particular need to protect older people from high ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • Returning To “Normalcy”.
    Resuming Normal Service: The Republican Party's nominee for in 1920, Warren Harding, promised the American people: “not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration”. If she wishes to remain our prime minister, then Jacinda Ardern will offer New Zealanders the same.HOW EDUCATED AMERICA snickered when the ...
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand’s Government Must Save New Zealand’s Media.
    No Free Society Without A Free And Functioning News Media: If we are to surrender our civil rights to the broader cause of defeating Covid-19, then foreign corporations must, likewise, surrender their right to inflict immense economic and cultural harm on New Zealanders simply because it improves their bottom line.I’M ...
    6 days ago
  • Corona fevers and the madness of models
    by Daphna Whitmore A third of the world is under lockdown and a clear assessment of this measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is urgently needed.  With any high-stakes decisions it has to be asked what are we dealing with here? Are the measures warranted? Will they achieve their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Lockdown day 8
    I haven’t done a huge amount in the last few days. I’m reading The Poppy War and I’ve sort of poked at a couple of games – I started SOMA but I’m a wimp and I quit while in the first room after the brain scan. I might try it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    6 days ago
  • Backstage and Theatre
    The swan politicians may be gliding on the water, occasionally snapping at one another. Meanwhile, as the Covid19 crisis illustrates, the officials are desperately paddling below providing the real locomotion. One of the most fatuous recent grandstanding comments (of about a week ago), adding to the public’s anxieties, was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • Legal Beagle: Waiver, the singular Crown and the conduct of Crown legal business
    Much has been written about the importance of discretion in an emergency situation, and the concerns raised by the potential for it to be exercised arbitrarily. Given the quality of the discussion, there seemed little point in adding to it at any length. In particular, I point to the evidence ...
    7 days ago
  • Highlights from Bauer Media’s science-related reporting
    Today has felt surreal. I was all set to touch base online with my science communication students when a colleague shared the news that Bauer Media would be shutting down its publications immediately. The first link I saw implied it was Woman’s Weekly affected, and even that shocked me. But ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    7 days ago
  • Outsiders.
    Bogeymen, Real And Imagined: Is the number of psychopathic and sociopathic individuals in any given society truly as vanishingly small as we like to tell ourselves? Isn’t it more likely that the mass-shooters and serial-killers filling the headlines represent only the tip of a much, much larger iceberg of frightfulness? ...
    7 days ago
  • We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey
    Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of my cat, . . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a pretty flower. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7
    . . April 1: Day seven of living in lock-down… This morning I had a brief chat with one of my neighbours, “D” (social distance between us, a good three or four metres). I learned he had resigned from his previous job and had been hired by another company – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • RIP The Listener, New Zealand’s pioneering voice
    Funnily enough, my thought as I start this post is whether it will be well written enough. Or should that be well enough written? Because so much of what I know about good writing came from my two stints at The Listener, which this morning was shut down due to ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • OK, Britney: stop sniping at National for doing its job
    With normal democratic procedures in abeyance, there were two ways to go. First, it was open for the government to dissolve itself and invite the National Party to join a ministry of national salvation. That would have lessened the democratic deficit of the times by having a team of rivals without ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    7 days ago
  • Helpful tips for parents during lockdown
    Dr Kirsty Ross Children and young people can respond differently in times of distress. This also varies by age and developmental stage, with younger children having more magical and imaginative thinking, and older children having more awareness and knowledge of the issues our communities are facing (which brings up ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    1 week ago
  • Hungary is now a dictatorship
    Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
    While the economy is on pause under lockdown, the government is beginning to plan how to cope with the post-lockdown, post-tourism, post-export education world we will eventually find ourselves in. They're planning a lot of infrastructure spending as economic stimulus, and have asked for proposals which can start the moment ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: Diamond Harbour School Blogs I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or ...
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    1 week ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
    For almost a week now, every one of us who isn’t an essential worker has been confined to their bubble. We are allowed to go shopping for groceries, to visit the doctor, and to get a bit of exercise if we stay local. The reason we are doing this is ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • A Government System That Works
    The Covid-19 saga will no doubt produce many twists and turns for us before it is finally brought to an end. But one thing it has shown us – and what comfort it should bring us – is that our country’s government is in good hands. I am not thinking ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
    In the absence of a vaccine or a cure for a deadly disease, staying home in your bubble is what you do, the concept is not new.  To the best of my knowledge last time we did this in NZ was for polio, in the years before a vaccine came ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    1 week ago
  • National Network on Cuba (USA): “Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founde...
    The following statement was released on March 28 by the National Network on Cuba, a coalition of 40 groups, based in the United States. In recent weeks, Cuba has deployed hundreds of medical providers to over a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, as well as to their neighbors in Latin ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Alarming decrease in calves increases fears for endangered Hector’s dolphin
    This has been a terrible summer for Hector’s dolphins. The first indication was very low numbers of dolphin sightings during late spring and early summer. The Otago University Marine Mammal Research Team has carried out routine dolphin surveys at Banks Peninsula for more than 30 years. In all that time, ...
    SciBlogsBy Otago Marine Science
    1 week ago
  • Time for Grant Robertson to reveal package #2?
    On March 17, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was quick out of the blocks with an economic rescue package to help businesses through the inevitable recession resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Robertson had pulled together a scheme in short order that so far seems to have saved many jobs. In his ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • Saving lives
    The purpose of the lockdown is to save lives, by reducing the spread of covid-19. We won't know if its really working for another week, but given the devastation that will result if it doesn't - 14,000 dead is the optimistic scenario - its definitely worth trying. But pausing the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 5
    . . March 30: Day five of living in lock-down… Woke up still in darkness. Alarm hadn’t gone off. Turn to radio clock; it’s a few minutes after 6am… I lie there in the dark, waiting to drift off to sleep… but it ain’t happening. Clock ticks over to 6.55 ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Les Gray: the man who told the truth
    The story of Les Gray, the public sector psychologist who told the truth about his use of cannabis and set off a storm, has a special place in the lore of cannabis reform in New Zealand.When Paul Shannon interviewed Gray for the 'Dope and Hope' issue of Planet magazine in ...
    1 week ago
  • Why now? Historical specificity and the perfect storm that has created trans identity politics
    by Phil Duncan For Marxists, a key concern about social trends is their context – not just their causes, but why they happen when they do.  Events and phenomena have causes, but they also are time or period-specific. While much of the left have capitulated recently to postmodernism, most notably ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Time for a living wage for supermarket workers
    Since the lockdown began, we've all suddenly been reminded who the actually essential workers in our society are: not the people at the top who pay themselves the big bucks and rort the perks, but the people at the bottom they screw over and squeeze: cleaners, warehouse staff, truck drivers ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: MUSIC: Lockdown Grooves
    Kia ora! As I've watched nearly all my remaining work vanish over the past couple of days, it has occured to me that one good way to keep me away from arguing with fools on Twitter all the time (in the knowledge that all we're really doing is processing our ...
    1 week ago
  • A place of greater safety?
    Aotearoa New Zealand has committed to trying to extirpate the virus that causes COVID-19 from its shores. To do that, as a society we’ve moved to “Level 4”. That means adapting to unprecedented restrictions on our personal freedoms, particularly to our rights to move freely and associate with friends and ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • The police and public trust
    When the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency last week, she handed the police powers to enforce it. And almost immediately, we started hearing about heavy-handed, arbitrary "enforcement" by police who (at best) cared more about order than law, or (more likely) had no idea what the rules were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago

  • Communities step up to help New Zealanders stay connected and fed during lockdown
    Communities stepping up to help New Zealanders stay at home to break the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives have received Government support, said Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. “Delivering groceries for the elderly who can’t shop online, providing data packs for low income families to keep them connected, and being ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • 120 COVID-19 testing centres now operating
    Across New Zealand 120 sites are taking samples to be tested for COVID-19.   68 community based assessment centres (CBACs) have been established to take samples from people with COVID-19 symptoms. Alongside this, 52 other centres including designated general practices, swabbing centres, and mobile clinics are now testing people for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Covid19: Government moving quickly to roll out learning from home
    The Ministry of Education is working with partners to develop a package of options so that students can learn at home when Term 2 begins on 15 April, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Supports are also being prepared for households with children under five, to help parents and whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Making learning from home accessible to Māori learners and whānau
    Māori Television to begin educational te reo programmes Ki te Ao Mārama – a new online learning space Thousands of hard copy learning packs ready for distribution Helpdesk and advice service for kōhanga, kura and wharekura Television, the internet and hard copy learning packs are some of the ways whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • New Zealand to provide assistance to Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Harold
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced an initial package of support to help the people and the Government of Vanuatu respond to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Harold. “Our Pacific neighbours have been hit by a Category 5 Cyclone at the same time as dealing with the economic impacts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Planning for the future of tourism
    Tourism New Zealand to lead work reimagining the way tourism operates in post-COVID-19 world. Ministers to review International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy investment plan. The Government, industry and business are working together to develop a plan for how tourism will operate in a post-COVID-19 world, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • NZ horticulture sector feeding Kiwis and the world during COVID-19
    More New Zealanders are taking up the chance to work in horticulture as the sector keeps New Zealanders fed and in jobs during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Work to repurpose PGF funds begins
    The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. “We need to be throwing everything we have at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • A million workers supported by Govt wage subsidy
    The Government’s wage subsidy to protect jobs and keep workers and businesses connected during the lockdown has now supported over a million New Zealanders, with $6.6 billion already paid out. “We’re supporting businesses to pay wages, and stay connected with their workers so that we are all in a better ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government helps Pacific communities fight COVID
    The Government is stepping up efforts to help protect New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet has agreed that $17 million will be allocated to support a COVID-19 Pacific Response Package, which will: Support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand; Ramp up public health messaging ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark
    “Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.  “But right now, my priority is our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Statement from David Clark
    Last night as part of my preparation for the Epidemic Response Committee, I provided the Prime Minister with a complete picture of my activity outside my home during Alert Level 4.  That included the fact that on the first weekend of the Alert Level 4 lockdown I drove my family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • COVID-19 mental health support begins
    A range of support is being rolled out across New Zealand to help people look after their mental health during COVID-19 Health Minister David Clark said this morning. “COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives and many of us will be feeling some level of distress or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealanders in Peru to be assisted by Government charter flight
    The New Zealand Government has made arrangements to charter a flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. “Like many travellers around the world at the moment, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19 Hospital Preparation Well Advanced
    Hospital preparations for COVID-19 are well advanced says Health Minister David Clark. “Hospitals across New Zealand are repurposing buildings and training staff to get ready for COVID-19 patients. This gives me confidence that we are well prepared for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospital level care,” said David ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
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