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Key’s kiss of death for Chch workers

Written By: - Date published: 10:10 am, March 29th, 2011 - 60 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, jobs - Tags:

The $6.8 million package for businesses offered last week by the government was an insult: business mentors and export junkets – just what people who aren’t allowed to access their businesses need. Now, Key and Bennett have announced they are slashing wage support and and the job loss payment. It will hammer the Christchurch economy.

So far, the government has been paying about 8,000 businesses $500 per week per full-time worker and $300 per part-time worker to subsidise the wages of about 60,000 workers. Over 6,000 more workers have seen their jobs destroyed by the quake. They have been getting $400 a week.

Those payments are to be cut.

The current rates will stay for three weeks, then the second round begins. For the first fortnight, the wage subsidy will stay the same. The fortnight after they’ll be cut to $375 per full-time worker and $225 per part-time worker, the fortnight after $250 and $150. Then, nothing.

The job loss payment will remain just for three more weeks then it will be abolished. People will have to apply for an ordinary benefit. If they can get one  – and, remember, most unemployed people are ineligible for the dole – they can get a top-up as well: $50 for a single person, $80 for a couple, up to $110 for a person with kids. And that will end in six weeks.

What does the government think will happen as it first slashes and then eliminates these payments that are supporting 30% of the Christchurch workforce? Don’t they realise that more of the businesses will collapse? Do they think that all the extra unemployed plus the 6,000 who have lost their jobs already from the quake plus the 15,000 who were already unemployed are just going to find jobs with the CBD closed down and the oil price strangling the rest of the country?

Ludicrous. All that will happen is more businesses will fold and more workers will be made unemployed. The government is sucking money and jobs out of the Christchurch. It will force families to default on their mortgage and to leave the city. It will create a vicious cycle.

Maybe if there was some action on the residential rebuilding that will be needed that would create some jobs but there just isn’t any. The Japanese tsunami was 18 days ago and they’re already erecting temporary housing. Here, five weeks after the quake, the government is still talking about building temporary housing at some undefined time in the future.

The Righties will protest that continuing to support all these workers is unaffordable. Tell me that once the government has canceled the half a million in tax cuts that the National MPs pocketed have pocketed from their salaries alone. Or when they cut the billion dollar a year subsidy to polluters under their ETS. Or when they cut funding for white elephant motorways where the costs exceed the benefits. Helping Christchurch workers isn’t unaffordable, it comes down to choices.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a travesty that there was no plan in place to deal with mass job dislocation and loss from a large disaster. Instead, we have to hope that when a disaster hits there will be a government with the competence, will, and fiscal resources to make something up on the spot. Not good enough. We need universal EQC insurance for homes and businesses tagged on to rates, we need a tiny (less than 0.1%) income levy for universal disaster income insurance, and we need plans for constructing mass temporary housing quickly.

60 comments on “Key’s kiss of death for Chch workers ”

  1. kriswgtn 1

    And this will hopefully cost these clowns the election

  2. tc 2

    SCF bailout = votes
    ECAN dismissal = votes
    Helping the workers = no votes

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      “ECAN dismissal = votes”
      From whom? Lots of people in CHCH were very incensed by this. I’m sure the farmers etc didn’t mind, but they were going to vote National anyway.

    • kriswgtn 2.2

      Not putting into place any accommodation in time for winter for those made homeless in Chch- will cost them votes

      When the support for those made jobless runs out,what then?

      The stand down period for those affected will lead to people defaulting on mortgages=made homeless

  3. Pete 3

    So, why don’t you donate all your income to the ‘Chch workers’.

    Better still, why don’t you borrow as much as you can on your house and donate that too?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Hey asswipe

      Way to support people who’s lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by the earthquake. Maybe you don’t know the meaning of “solidarity” but we do.

      We can’t renew Christchurch by isolated individual efforts, this requires a full Governmental response

      Fuck off

    • Marty G 3.2

      even better still, why don’t we harvest your organs and sell them, sending the profits to chch.

      seriously don’t understand why simple and pragmatic options like reversing tax cuts for the already rich and getting rid of pollution subsidies is met with such over the to hostility. maybe it’s because you have no reasoned objection.

      • godder 3.2.1

        and your’s was a reasoned response?

        I took Pete’s point to be that if you’re so keen on spending other peoples money, why not your own? I don’t agree with it but I cant see how calling him an asshole, lets sell your organs etc really helps anyone.

        For the record, I agree with reversing the ETS subsidies and cancelling the holiday highway. I dont agree with reversing the tax cuts.

        • Colonial Viper

          Listen up godder, this requires a full Governmental response this right wing every individual come up with their own solution for Christchurch is nothing more than a blatant abandoning of the people of Christchurch by their leaders and by their Government.

          And why don’t you agree with reversing the tax cuts for the rich?

          Only 5% of the population benefitted from them and we need that money right now instead of cutting Government services to the bone and borrowing for Christchurch.

          I hope Parker can see how much Bill and John really care about his city just about now.

          • Godder

            What’s your point? Of course it requires a full government response. But what money the government uses to fund that full response is a seperate issue.

            And, I dont see that cutting subsidies to polluters and ditching a highway we dont need is “cutting services to the bone”.

        • Lanthanide

          “I took Pete’s point to be that if you’re so keen on spending other peoples money, why not your own?”

          Marty is in the top tax bracket. By advocating ditching the tax cuts, he would be “spending” his own money.

          • Godder

            All tax is all our money. All spending is from “our” money.

            Where do you think taxes below 33 cents in the dollar comes from?

        • Deadly_NZ

          Hang on Godder i don’t know what you got in the great tax swindle, me, I got nothing nix nada niente sweet fanny adams. Now John Key got about a grand a week and all his rich mates and backers did just as well if not better. Tell me what did the new manager of some bank (westpac?) get in a tax break for his obscene $5 million salary??? and we are borrowing $128 million a week to pay for them. Revenue neutral my arse. me I get so see my already small ( someone here said yesterday that raising a family on half of 70k a year is hard) I am about to get put through some expensive hoops by winz doctors just because my doctor and 2 specialists have said I need to go onto an invalids benefit, caused probably by an overly zealous Acc case manager who said I could go back to work after a nasty car accident, now I can not do much, but back to money, half of 70k I would love. we manage on about oh 22k a year and we have a teen and you really have not seen a money vacuum until you have had a 15 year old teen girl. but now I may just find out what is more expensive as I am now expecting a son in a couple of months So go on all you RWNJ’s give me grief for having children. At least I can!! So the end of this ramble is that the tax swindle MUST be reversed. the holiday highway and other kenesian white elephants need to be cancelled John key and Blinglish need to be put in the stocks for a coupla months (ooppss) but it would be fun to let them really know exactly how we feel

    • big bruv 3.3

      Don’t be silly Pete, socialists only believe in spending other peoples money.

      I wonder if any of this lot have donated a cent to the people of Christchurch.

      • Colonial Viper 3.3.1

        Hey bb you loser, forget about donating cents to Christchurch, the Government needs to commit to pouring in billions.

        Christchurch needs a red blooded full Governmental response, not itsy bitsy donations from individuals.

        And if National aren’t gonna do it, Labour is.

        • big bruv


          I realise that you are a moron but even allowing for that I feel I need to correct you.

          The “government” does not have any money, the money that they spend belongs to the tax payer.

          And as for Labour…..yeah right!, you lot will not see the treasury benches for at least another six and a half years.

          • The Voice of Reason

            Er, no, Bruv. Government money belongs to us all, whether we are taxpayers or not. It’s just your narrow political worldview that makes you think that only taxpayers contribute to society and therefore should have the casting vote on how its spent.

            Also, it’s a bit rich you mithering on about other people’s donations when you can’t be arsed paying your own debts.

            • big bruv

              Damn right it is only tax payers who should have a right to say how their money is spent.

              The vote should be removed from all long term bludgers (dole and DPB)

              • The Voice of Reason

                Ok, I’ll play along. Would you therefore extend the vote to, say, the teenager working in your local dairy? And remove it from business owners who structure their affairs so as to pay little or no personal tax?

                edit: you do know that beneficiaries pay tax, don’t you?

                • big bruv


                  Speaking of bludgers, did the Unions ever get around to donating to the Christchurch relief fund or are they saving all their money for the election?.

                  • Bright Red

                    does one have to work to get the vote in your paradise or can pople get it simply by paying tax on interest?

                    Does raising a kid fulltime but having no income count as work?

                    Does attending a couple of board meetings a year count as work?

                    What about if you just live off your investments but don’t do anything yourself? worthy of the vote?

                  • The Voice of Reason

                    The ‘unions’ did even better than that, Bludge. They set up their own fund for the welfare of the families and education of the children. I gather they have had considerable donations from union members and also substantial amounts from unions who represent miners such as the Aussie CFMEU.


                    The EPMU is also spending thousands on legal representation for the miners at the commision, while other interested parties get their lawyers bills paid for by the taxpayer. Puts your pathetic slight in a different light, aye?

                    And, while I know it doesn’t suit your prejudices, I think you’ll find that only the EPMU, SFWU and DWU are affiliated to Labour and that only the EPMU registers as a third party for electoral purposes.

                  • Billy Fish

                    I’ve finally worked out why Big Bruv sounds so familiar – its freakin Gollum

                    Nasssssttttttyyyyyy Pooooorrr peoples takes my taxxxeessss Gollllum, mines they is alll minesssss

                • Armchair Critic

                  Take it a little further, VOR.
                  With an IRD number and pocket money, my 3-yo could pay tax. Should under-fives be allowed to vote, BB?
                  My gran’s sole source of income is the pension, from the government. Should she be prevented from voting, BB?
                  What about people who don’t pay their gambling debts – should they be allowed to vote?
                  Does paying GST count as paying tax, thereby entitling a person to vote, BB?
                  What about excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol, BB, do they count as paying tax?
                  Probably more sensible to link voting to citizenship.

              • KJT

                As someone who has been in the top bracket for most of their working life. One of the middle class who pays taxes, not one of the wealthy who do not. I cast my vote for a decent inclusive society.

                Maybe the vote should only be for tax payers. That would exclude half of the wealthiest people in NZ, Most , if not all, farmers, financial fraudsters, many who have money in trusts and various other bludgers who take billions more out of the economy than beneficiaries do.

                What these people are trying to do is hide their burglary, by shifting the blame away from the real culprits..

              • Treetop

                Gee big bruv I hope you never become unwell enough to work, cause ya sound like you could not hack being dependent on a benefit.

      • Kei 3.3.2

        I live in Christchurch. In the east, even. I signed up to the volunteer at the Red Cross (at least an hour’s travel each way on the unreliable bus system when there’s no traffic), I’ve brought trolley loads of groceries to welfare centres (when a supermarket finally opened that we could get to), I’ve helped feed neighbours when we had a gas-heated barbecue and the power was out. I’ve seen other people doing the same. Funnily enough it’s often the poorest people who are the most generous in times of crisis.

        Have YOU donated a cent to “the people of Christchurch”?

  4. Colonial Viper 5

    I hope the Christchurch Chamber of Commerce has figured out that this National Government don’t give a shit about them or about SME’s.

    Just rich mates and big corporates in select places.

    If Bill and John can walk away from Christchurch without anything more than a shrug, they can walk away from you.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      I’m pretty sure you’ll find that the Chch Chamber of Commerce is run by the NACTs rich mates and big corporates.

  5. MrSmith 6

    Also Marty dont forget the New Zealand’s company tax rate will drop to 28%, down from 30%, from 1 April 2011

    Also the Christchurch quake relief.

    I’ve been thinking about the Governments sad response after the two quakes, I have had dealings with EQC over several claims and all I can say is they have no F…en idea what they are doing, I rang again the other day and finally got to speak to someone and was told all claims from the first quake have been put on hold, till when I said, sorry sir I can’t tell you that.

    I started thinking about the Governments sad response to these disasters and then took a look at the electorates it has affected, you can come to your own conclusions.

    Banks Peninsula Labour
    Christchurch east Labour
    Wigram progressive /Labour
    Ilam National
    Christchurch central Labour
    Waimakariri Labour
    Selwyn National

    • Bright Red 6.1

      yup. and of those electorates Ilam and Selwyn are the least effected because rich people’s suburbs don’t get built on swamps.

      There’s certianly a class/political element to the relief effort. Don’t think for a second that the good people of Botany would have been left shitting into buckets for weeks on end.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Bill and John are stupid if they think that they can sacrifice the party vote in those Labour electorates.

        It’s MMP for gawdsakes, this is why we have proportional representation.

        Are the NACTs still stuck in an FPP world because of their ongoing 50%+ popularity?

        • Draco T Bastard

          It’s MMP for gawdsakes, this is why we have proportional representation.

          And why NACT want to get rid of proportional representation.

      • Lanthanide 6.1.2

        The Ilam electorate includes Fendalton and Merivale, both of which got pretty smashed from the second quake. Not as badly smashed as out east, but certainly not as mildly affected as Riccarton, Ilam and Avonhead (also in the electorate).

        • Puddleglum

          And the wealthier hill suburbs were hit hard too.

          Oddly, though, I don’t hear much talk about depopulating the hills from Scarborough and Sumner, through Redcliffs, Heathcote, Huntsbury, Cashmere and on to Westmorland (and dumping all the people somewhere west of Hornby) despite real concerns over the effects of rain on the unstable hills this coming winter, long-lasting concerns over the soil stability on many slopes and, obviously, the ‘performance’ of homes on the hills with the quake (not to mention the interesting qualities and form of volcanic rock). Apparently, still ‘ok’, ‘viable’ and ‘just dandy’ to (re)build there. Christchurch East, on the other hand …

          After September 4, there was an interview with two elderly Christchurch architects (Mahoney and Warren??) on National Radio. One of them was asked whether it was possible to build on these liquefied areas. He said it was – not because of the expensive possibility of land remediation, but because with the right foundation design you can build stable/structurally sustainable houses even on a swamp. (Tried to find the link but no luck).

          • joe90

            Mahoney and Warren interview from 9/9/2010.

            • Puddleglum

              Thanks Joe. Much appreciated. The comment I recalled was at 6mins20secs in the audio.

              Then again, listening to that in retrospect, with Mahoney talking about spending his 50th wedding anniversary in the Crowne Plaza (aka Park Royal) on the 13th floor during the quake in September and noting how little damage it sustained, makes you realise that no-one really knows squat about what nature can do.

              • MrSmith

                Of-course they will rebuild most of the houses on the same land, all this moving 10,000 houses was just an over reaction in my opinion.
                The engineers will learn a lot from this disaster and the next Government (unless it’s the Nacts) will improve foundation and building designs then make them law, so we will learn from or mistakes and then be able to sell that knowledge to the world.

  6. tc 7

    I’m sure many were incensed by the ECAN situation Lanth but it’s not the first or last time that they’ll sacrifice votes in order to appease what’s effectively a minority i.e. farmers.

  7. Kei 8

    The thing that really galls me is that there are so many studies done on all factors surrounding unemployment and poverty, and excepting for those done by researchers with a bias to prove, all have shown that supporting a society’s vulnerable leads to a much healthier, richer nation. Maybe not straight away, but in the foreseeable future. Instead most choose to demonise the poor and, unintentionally or otherwise, continue to hobble society. I had hopes that the earthquake may lead to a little more tolerance and understanding for those hard done by – after all, huge numbers of ordinary people were affected, rather than the “Other” that can be easy dissociated from – but apparently even that is too much to hope for when it comes to National.

    Cut welfare to the wealthy and big businesses. Stop funding people who can fund themselves and show some actual compassion for those who are just trying to survive. There are dozens of places to find money that don’t involve cutting *needed* services.

  8. tsmithfield 9

    Would be nice if the scheme could go on forever.

    However, there are a number of factors.

    Firstly, many of the affected companies in the CBD have relocated to other parts of the city. The wage subsidy has given them a chance to get on their feet again.
    Secondly, there are hard-luck stories with businesses all around the country for various reasons. If the scheme continued on for too long those companies and affected employees could argue that they should be getting the same entitlements.
    Thirdly, it should be remembered that many firms have business interruption insurance, so may have the resources to get on their feet again.
    Fourthly there is a lot of work arising due to the earthquake. For instance my wife (a real estate agent) knows of three real estate agents from another company that are now working for EQC doing assessments. All so employment agencies are advertising hard out for workers to help with the clean-up.

    • bbfloyd 9.1

      ts.. a very well constructed load of apologist rubbish there. not a single actual argument that counters the reality that this (apparent) govt is floundering around without any clue what to do because, when push comes to shove, they have nothing more than self intereast at heart.. which is why they can’t respond like real leaders would.. how could they? a morally and intellectually bankrupt administration will revert to type every time the pressure is applied…

      is there any evidence whatsoever that this third rate circus laughingly called a “government” has been able to rise above it’s own instincts to do, for once, the right thing by the country rather than themselves..? i await the conclusive evidence of such with eager anticipation..

    • Colonial Viper 9.2

      Would be nice if the scheme could go on forever.

      Forget forever – unless you are saying that’s how long it will take Brownlee to get to grips with what is going on.

      6 months is a reasonable period and would allow people get on with their lives and attempt a restart in Christchurch.

      Unless National are keen for Christchurch to depopulate and become a ghost town of course.

  9. Treetop 10

    Talk about the kiss of death. There are ramifications beyond the CBD in Christchurch concerning Kiwi Rail. The tranzAlpine train service (Christchurch – Greymouth is running at 45 % capacity and the TranzCoastal train (Picton – Christchurch) is not yet operational. Thought this service was suppose to resume on 28 March 2011. Too much to expect a train service to run between Christchurch and Dunedin or Christchurch and Timaru.

    It would be awful for Christchurch to lose these train services. The services are required for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

    • Treetop 10.1

      There is a coach (bus) between Picton and Christchurch as a replacement. Why is rail not operating?

    • Lanthanide 10.2

      Neither of those services are really passenger services. For 1 person, it costs more than simply hiring a car and driving (including petrol), and in a car you get to take up to 4-5 people for that initial outlay, but for the train you have to pay individually for each one.

      Those train services are essentially tourism services. Trains to Dunedin or Timaru/Oamaru could actually serve some purpose, though, as many more people live south of CHCH than west or north.

    • Jim Nald 10.3

      I don’t have confidence in this Government in rebuilding Christchurch.

  10. Rob 11

    I am still wondering when the voice of Christchurch people is going to make it into the MSM. I have spoken to some really angry people there and seen stuff shared around blogs that shows there is quite a bit of discontent there with how things have been handled but it doesn’t seem to translate through to real coverage of those issues. Could be a big issue come election time.

    • Drakula 11.1

      Robb I am beginning to think that the internet is becoming the mainstreem media, the problem is that it doesn’t have a sufficient central focus.

      I think that was an insightfull post from Marty and I will put it on our local notice board; I think that is very important for those with printers, take prints and pin them on local notice boards for those who are not on the net like pensioners students etc.

      This is the wrong sort of government to have in when a disaster occurs!!!!!!!

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        This is the wrong sort of government – period.

      • Jim Nald 11.1.2

        Following Drakula’s comment, here’s an idea to develop and run with ….
        is it possible to compile a number of posts, pdf them, and circulate them by email to friends and family, and asking them to forward on?

        Also, can print the pdf and put them up on local notice boards, leave them at university campus/library/cafe/public newsletter stands, etc?

        Some of us might even be keen to stand at street corners in the city on a Friday evening or a few hours during the weekend and sell them?

        This might have already been suggested before but if someone can action this, I’d be happy to give a few hours of my time to help disseminate hard copies of The Standard’s posts.

    • Treetop 11.2

      Rob is there a main blog for the discontented? There needs to be one for coverage of all issues. Something along the lines of The Standard or Kiwi blog. No good to have divide and rule, safety in numbers.

      Being election year is a plus. Two blogs maybe required a left and a right one.

  11. chris73 12

    And theres nothing Labour can do about it…

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Except roll it up and shove it in the tail pipe of Key, English and Brownlee in November.

      Taking this money out of Canterbury will make the South Island recession even worse.

      • chris73 12.1.1

        Serious question: Do you believe Labour will win the next election? (Not can win but will win)

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