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Maybe Karl Marx was right after all

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, October 22nd, 2016 - 43 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war - Tags: , , , ,

It has been many decades since I have read anything about Karl Marx but a recent Guardian article made me think about his writing again. The article by John Harris was about the failure of British political leadership and suggested, perhaps unfairly in the case of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, that both major parties had lost their way and were not even thinking of the inevitable societal change being caused by new technologies.

The article starts off reviewing a conversation between Barack Obama and Joi Ito who is the director of the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology’s Media Lab. The article then sets out how Obama thinks a universal basic income may become a necessity:

Obama’s contributions are all about an acute, worldly kind of cleverness being tentatively applied to things he probably regrets not having enough time to think about. And when he turns his attention to the mess of stuff usually subsumed under the increasingly cliched heading of “automation”, he gets interesting. “As AI gets further incorporated, and the society potentially gets wealthier, the link between production and distribution, how much you work and how much you make, gets further and further attenuated – the computers are doing a lot of the work,” says Obama. “As a consequence, we have to make some tougher decisions.” One is whether it is time to consider a universal basic income, “a debate that we’ll be having over the next 10 or 20 years”.

Harris then sets out demographic change that may mean that the UK society is less able to achieve radical change which may be required.  He also hints at reasons why social media may not be heralding in a new participatory democracy despite our wishes to the contrary.

The electorate is growing older, and politics is clearly being reoriented accordingly. And in any case, Britain – or, rather, England – has long had an ingrained conservatism, there in everything from our eternal fondness for the idea of some lost Arcadian age, to the clarion call of the great English radical William Cobbett, which suits the time of Brexit as well as it fitted the late 18th and early 19th centuries: “We want great alteration, but we want nothing new.” But something more insidious is also going on. Increasingly, the orthodoxies of government and politics are so marginal to the way advanced economies work that if politicians fail to keep up, they simply get pushed aside. Obviously, the corporations concerned are global. The amazing interactions many of them facilitate between people are now direct – with no role for any intermediate organisations, whether they be traditional retailers or the regulatory state.

The result is a kind of anarchy, overseen by unaccountable monarchs: we engage with each other via eBay, Facebook and the rest, while the turbo-philanthropy of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates superficially fills the moral vacuum that would once have pointed to oversight and regulation by the state.

He then sets out starkly the level of change that is occurring and why urgent radical decisions are needed now.

I wonder whether May, Corbyn and others – including, it has to be said, most of the media – grasp that the realities of what Obama talks about are already here. When it comes to automation, do they understand the incredible symbolism of the new Rolls-Royce factory near Rotherham, which covers 150,000 square feet and produces some parts for jet engines in a quarter of the time the processes used to take, but needs a mere 150 people on site?

Do they get the bracing view of the future contained in the same company’s claim about a plant in Tyne and Wear, where the machines run for “between 12 and 45 hours without any [human] intervention, compared to every half-hour before”?

With every turn of those machines and each bleep of a self-service checkout, we get nearer the future in which the Bank of England’s chief economist has said that technology might take 15 million jobs. If that sounds too abstract, try the projections of the Israeli sage Yuval Noah Harari: “Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.”

The article feeds neatly into Labour’s future of work project and shows why the work is so important.

So what did Karl Marx think about technology?  He was not against technology per se, he foresaw a future where everyone would own the means of production and share in the wealth generated so any machine that lessened the need for work was a good thing.  But concentrating the advantages of technology in the hands of the few he thought was retrograde and a continuation of the problem that pure capitalism poses.

From a paper by Mokyr, Vickers, and Ziebarth:

Karl Marx, from a rather different perspective, also argued that technological unemployment was a serious problem in the short run, in the broader context of the immiseration of workers under a capitalist system. But for Marx as well, technological improvement was part of a social and political process that would lead eventually to widespread prosperity. (Of course, the Marxist vision of progress also eventually required a wholesale over- throw of the existing capitalist economic system.)

Before anyone writes me off as a card carrying member of the Communist Party can they say how providing universal basic income is so different to the state owning a larger part of the economy.  It is possible that we can achieve one by increasing taxation but multinational corporations have proved themselves to be very adept at avoiding paying their fair share.

Maybe Marx was right after all.

43 comments on “Maybe Karl Marx was right after all”

  1. Siobhan 1

    The Americans can’t even manage Universal Health Coverage, and Obama has done next to nothing to reign in the Financial Markets and the Tax ‘minimising’ Corporations. In fact he has reneged on a number of his core promises for the benefit of Corporations, the GMO bill, anti whistle blower legislation etc etc.

    So if they can’t get those issues sorted there is no chance of a UBI.

    Unless of course it serves the purposes of our politicians real masters. In which case we need to figure out what they are really up to, because, let’s face it, they are not our friends.

  2. Gristle 2

    By having billions of people with “no military or economic function,” does that make them expendable?

    By the way doesn’t the phrase “military or economic function” strike you as odd?

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    If that sounds too abstract, try the projections of the Israeli sage Yuval Noah Harari: “Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.”

    Isn’t amazing just how limited some people’s view of life is? You’re either in the military or have a job else your life is worthless.

    The job of the government is to ensure that everyone that lives in a nation has all that they need to live at a reasonable standard of living that is also sustainable. It is not to give those people’s lives meaning.

    Unfortunately, the government has come to the conclusion that their job is to make a few people rich and to ignore everyone else.

    (Of course, the Marxist vision of progress also eventually required a wholesale over- throw of the existing capitalist economic system.)

    They say as if that’s a bad thing but history shows us that capitalism simply doesn’t work and always results in the collapse of the society that becomes capitalist.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    the politics that dare not speak its name eh Micky…

    Marx and subsequent practitioners of dialectical and historical materialism could not foresee the particulars of say finance capitalists using virtually instantaneous digital transfers across the globe

    but they did get right the basic class analysis of how minority capitalist ownership of the means of production leads to global monopolies maintained by the 1%ers (in modern parlance) by armed force and institutions enforcing the capitalist model-media, schools, banks, the bourgeois parliament etc.

  5. Peter 5

    I am sorry to say this but I believe in the future 5 billion people will have to go.

    • Tiger Mountain 5.1

      and you will be leading by example?

    • mickysavage 5.2

      Doesn’t have to happen. We just need to learn to share and look after the planet.

      • jcuknz 5.2.1

        and engage with birth control instead of irresponsible procreation.
        and stupid games like Maori having lots of kids to preserve their % in the population as one Green leader is reputed to advocate.

      • AmaKiwi 5.2.2

        “We just need to learn to share and look after the planet.”

        By virtue of disability (and to some degree age), I am effectively “retired.”

        I have never been busier. It is unpaid, but it is important work for my family, my community, and the environment.

        The UBI does NOTHING to rebuild communities. I recently stayed in one of our hundreds economically abandoned provincial towns. It does NOT need bigger welfare checks (UBI). It needs a focus and purpose so small businesses can return to Main St.

        • AmaKiwi 5.2.2.1

          P.S. The epidemic of emotional depression, youth suicide, and drug dependency is about the breakdown of social relationships. UBI will do nothing to solve that. But destroying neo-liberalism will.

        • jcuknz 5.2.2.2

          UBI is NOT a welfare cheque but rather a compensation for the work place being largely deestroyed because of automation and over population.
          If everybody is to receive the benefits of western development then there have to be fewer around for the sharing.
          As I mentioned at one group I associate with ‘Trouble these days is everybody knows their rights but not their responsibilities”
          Sadly we cannot have a responsible society without a similar population.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2.2.1

            UBI is NOT a welfare cheque but rather a compensation for the work place being largely deestroyed because of automation and over population.

            You’re correct in that a UBI isn’t a welfare check but it’s not compensation for work being destroyed by automation either.

            It is recognition that the economy is there to provide a reasonable living standard for everyone.

            • Rae 5.2.2.2.1.1

              A UBI done right is all citizens being shareholders in the technology/machinery that is doing the work.
              What will germinate from a UBI will be small boutique businesses that no machine can replace and creativity.
              BRING IT ON!

  6. greg 6

    there will be civil unrest and civil wars no society can function or survive that future what is work has to be redefined the current economic monetary system will need to be redesigned . when there millions of young people with no future you get gangs, isis Syria i honestly hope we don’t head down that path .the rich better learn to share or the pitch forks will come out.

  7. Conal 7

    Marx wrote some very interesting (and literally prescient) stuff about the evolution of industrial automation and what it would mean for capitalism and for wage-workers. There were some notebooks of Marx’s which contained rough notes which he never intended for publication but which were eventually published in the 20th C under the title “Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy”, AKA “Grundrisse”. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/

    The part that’s particularly relevant to this topic is a part sometimes called “The Fragment on Machines”. http://thenewobjectivity.com/pdf/marx.pdf

    It discusses how relatively independent workers using tools (the “means of labour”) are gradually replaced by workers whose role is reduced to supervising automated systems of machinery.

    But, once adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labour passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the machine, or rather, an automatic system of machinery (system of machinery: the automatic one is merely its most complete, most adequate form, and alone transforms machinery into a system), set in motion by an automaton, a moving power that moves itself; this automaton consisting of numerous mechanical and intellectual organs, so that the workers themselves are cast merely as its conscious linkages

    This means the contribution of labourers in production is massively reduced while the contribution of machines grows; that production levels reflect more and more the general level of science and technology in society, and depend less and less on the efforts of labourers, and that this reduction in the need for labour would be a necessary condition for workers to win their freedom from wage-slavery:

    Through this process, the amount of labour necessary for the production of a given object is indeed reduced to a minimum, but only in order to realize a maximum of labour in the maximum number of such objects. The first aspect is important, because capital here — quite unintentionally — reduces human labour, expenditure of energy, to a minimum. This will redound to the benefit of emancipated labour, and is the condition of its emancipation.

    Maybe not even Obama would disagree with that. But I think where Marx went further was in arguing that the replacement of “direct labour” with automation would necessarily undermine the commercial relationship of wage-slavery that exists between bosses and workers, and that this would break capitalism as a system.

    As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value. The surplus labour of the mass has ceased to be the condition for the development of general wealth, just as the non-labour of the few, for the development of the general powers of the human head. With that, production based on exchange value breaks down, and the direct, material production process is stripped of the form of penury and antithesis. The free development of individualities, and hence not the reduction of necessary labour time so as to posit surplus labour, but rather the general reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the individuals in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them.

    • Incognito 7.1

      It is obvious that production is the source of wealth.

      How did Marx envision paying for production & consumption once labour ceased to exist as the source of wealth (income)? How are we supposed to support our artistic and scientific endeavours? How are we supposed to disseminate & share these endeavours and ‘products’ thereof without proper infrastructure and who’s to pay for it?

      • weka 7.1.1

        “It is obvious that production is the source of wealth.”

        What is meant by wealth there? Because it’s not obvious to me that production is the source of wealth.

        • Incognito 7.1.1.1

          I don’t know what Marx meant by “wealth” but I second-guess that it is anything surplus to individual and social-collective need. Or perhaps it is held in reserve to be used for public (and/or individual?) good if/when the situation requires it.

          I also suppose that Marx also envisioned that society would own the production rather than a few wealthy capitalists that hold all power.

          I get the impression that Marx was thinking of AI but I am not familiar with his works or his thinking.

      • Conal Tuohy 7.1.2

        By ‘proper infrastructure’ (for distribution) I take it you’re referring to markets? But Marx’s point would be that the labour market (whose role is to compensate workers for hours worked) would no longer be ‘proper’ when the wealth produced is not in fact dependent on those hours worked, but on a socially shared infrastructure of scientific and technological knowledge.

        In the last quote above, where ‘exchange value’ must cease to be the measure of ‘use value’, you can essentially read ‘exchange value’ to mean ‘money’ or ‘price’, and ‘use value’ as ‘wealth’ (it means the practical value that goods and services have to their consumers).

        Obviously there needs to be accounting, but his insight there (remember this was written a century and a half ago) is that the wages system would cease to reflect what was really going on in production.

        A UBI is one gradual step towards the abolition of the wages system; even though it’s a step that can be achieved within a capitalist economy.

        • Incognito 7.1.2.1

          Thank you for your reply; it is much appreciated.

          No, I was not referring to “markets” but to the physical reality of getting things (and people) moved from one to another point; not everything can be transported via fibre. (NB I consider myself relatively naive & ignorant when it comes to political, economic, and social theories & practices)

          I like to think some more about exchange vs. use vs. practical value; somewhere there also has to be creative or aesthetic value, which is (entirely?) subjective. Similarly, something that is rare and ‘valued’ by many, by definition, has a higher value. These kinds of discussions will have to go beyond mere practical need (for survival & existence).

          FWIIW, I tend to be strongly supportive of the UBI concept and am, at the same time, a little disappointed that NZLP has gone very quiet on this after the initial flurry of activity & fanfare with its Future of Work Commission. With an election year coming up I can only hope the UBI will reappear firmly (back) on the agenda.

          PS I missed the last sentence:

          … in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them.

          • Conal 7.1.2.1.1

            Cheers, Incognito. FYI in Marx’s economic analysis the concept of “use value” does include purely subjective and aesthetic value; anything which satisfies a person’s desire has a “use value”. Wikipedia has a good article on Use value that contrasts it with “exchange value”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_value

            • Incognito 7.1.2.1.1.1

              Thank you but I have to say that I found that very heavy going.

              The following sentence stood out most:

              In the case of information or communication as use-values, transforming them into commodities may be a complex and problem-fraught process.

              One could add to this “experience” as use-value, e.g. a (special) holiday or enjoying a superb live concert.

              The outputs of scientific research that add/contribute to our collective scientific knowledge are tricky to commodify; the value goes up the more it is shared and “consumed”. Unfortunately, publishers of scientific literature and journals have found a very effective way of commodifying scientific knowledge even though most of it is funded by public good money.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.3

        Get rid of money. It’s no longer needed.

    • Rae 7.2

      Nail/head. What Marx wrote about was not a political system but just how he saw what our future progress would be and how it might play out.

  8. Philj 8

    Thanks Conal
    Would you be able to provide a translation of this for public consumption? This is nigh unintelligible.

    • Sacha 8.1

      ‘Machines will set the workers free’ seems to be about it.

      • weka 8.1.1

        And it’s an inevitability that this will happen under capitalism. I don’t quite follow that, because if that’s true by bother overthrowing capitalism?

        • Sacha 8.1.1.1

          Seems our leveraged, financialised economy was beyond his imagining, understandably.

        • Conal Tuohy 8.1.1.2

          The ‘inevitability’ is that capitalist automation will continue to improve productivity and reduce the length of the necessary working week, and that this is inevitably a growing problem for capitalism as a system based on wage labour.

          That ‘growing problem’ is not an alternative to replacing capitalism; it’s actually a precondition for being able to do so.

          • Tiger Mountain 8.1.1.2.1

            true collective ownership of all the world’s productive activity (the definition would have to be changed to include caring, research/science, culture, personal development, homelife etc.!) would see many concerns about managing a transition to a post capitalist future covered

            but, the question asked since Marx’s time will no doubt be asked again-is a peaceful transition to a new way of organising society possible?-will the 1%ers and their armed force, control of finance capital’s digital money transfers, control of mass media, control of the bourgeois parliament etc. hand over their ill gotten gains voluntarily by the ballot box or negotiation?

  9. Bill 9

    Two quick thought s for the day….

    Yuval Noah Harari: “Billions of people are likely to have no military or economic function. Providing food and shelter should be possible but how to give meaning to their lives will be the huge political question.”

    It’s not too unreasonable to suggest that people all across Africa were viewed as having no military or economic function. And we could have provided food and shelter to all of them, but we didn’t. So why will we suddenly change our ways and provide food and shelter to billions in the future if those billions have no military or economic function?

    Second thought.

    ….can they say how providing universal basic income is so different to the state owning a larger part of the economy.

    A UBI is predicated on notions around equality of opportunity. State welfare is predicated on notions around equality of access/outcome. Under a UBI, there is a very real possibility that many, many people get ‘thrown under the bus’ of (for example) profit driven private health care provisions that they can’t afford, while the fitter and healthier shake their heads at those people having an apparent inability to utilise their equal opportunity. There was a very good reason why UBI was very much ‘flavour of the day’ among some of the most rancid and rabid right wing economists….the welfare state ‘dies’ and everything falls back to personal responsibility and the decisions individuals make in a supposed environment of equal opportunity.

    • Olwyn 9.1

      That is my concern about the UBI Bill – that under the current ethos it might be used to kill off what remains of the welfare state, and then let wither to the point where it cannot fulfill the function we are being assured it will. While capitalism does not have much interest in supporting those with no “military or economic function”, it does not want them to be free either – free people are not forced to be compliant. So under current conditions it seems unlikely that a UBI will turn out to be quite what we hope it will.

      It is perhaps worth remembering that the sub-prime mortgage disaster began its life with Bill Clinton being sold the appealing idea of a “property-owning democracy” by the banking industry. We know how that turned out. I will only be happy when I see neoliberal capitalism either losing or conceding ground. I am not much reassured by the solutions that it believes it can afford.

  10. jcuknz 10

    There has to be a change from the welfare state which breeds mental state of “whatever I do the state will look after me” to a combination of capitalism and welfare softening the hard edges off capitalism.
    Without consumers to use capitalism is doomed.
    Likewise without consumers having sufficient money to pay.

    • aerobubble 10.1

      Whatever they do the state will look after them… …what!

      Doctor visits cost money. Cas cost money. Homes are cold damp. Food sucks, fast food abounds.

      What exactly is govt looking after them, giving a paltry amount of cash to keep them from living in ghettos, from eating poorly,fromental and other problems.

      Who the frack believes the state will look afer them. Facts are that what passes for welfare nowadays is designed to keep a underclass lethargic, keep disease down, citizens avaliable to new drugs etc that make wealthy people live longer. Every aspect of welfare has a greater payoff for the wealthest.

      Take our roading network, those who profit the most are the wealthiest, yet we all pay the same. Take diplomatic services, wealthy people us them more, yet we all pay the same for a passport. Progressive taxes have been dropping, the giant tax switch, gave wealthy people more financial freedom and no compareable benefit to the other 90%.

      So you want to talk about welfare, tlk about the free ride monied people have thanks to the majorities taxes paying for them. Using our colectively paid resources far more than anyone with less cost thanks to Key. Its as if they think the govt will look after their rich smug behinds.

  11. Rae 11

    Maybe we would get further if we ditched the term “welfare state” and used another, perhaps something like “interdependent state”.

  12. trendy leftie 12

    A UBI is not necessarily based around notions of equality of opportunity. As much as anything, conservatives propose it as a way to put money in the hands of displaced workers to ensure they continue to consume, thus propping up a market economy, which cannot be sustained if no-one has money to buy anything.

    Famous non-Marxists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman were proponents of the UBI.

    • Chris 12.1

      “Famous non-Marxists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman were proponents of the UBI.”

      Yeah, but paid at a pittance. Enough to see people eating 4 and a half days out of 7. Just like what benefits do now, but better because no admin costs. Very rational.

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  • 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
    3 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
    3 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    4 days 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
    4 days 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
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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
    4 days ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
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    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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
    4 days 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
    4 days ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
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    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    4 days ago
  • National Network on Cuba (USA): “Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founde...
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    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Alarming decrease in calves increases fears for endangered Hector’s dolphin
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    SciBlogsBy Otago Marine Science
    5 days ago
  • Time for Grant Robertson to reveal package #2?
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    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    5 days ago
  • Saving lives
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days 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
    5 days 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 ...
    5 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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 ...
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 4
    . . Lock Down: Day 4 – A photo essay with observations . March 29: Usual wake up routine as RNZ snaps on my radio-clock. Jim Mora’s voice slowly enters my conciousness; there’s talk of a second wave of covid19 taking hold in South Korea; the week in Parliament – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 vs New Zealand
    Yesterday, New Zealand recorded its first Covid-19 related death on the West Coast. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the only fatality, with the virus now being found in every region of the country.However despite the significant danger, people are still unfortunately breaching lockdown rules.There’s really only one main very ...
    6 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #13
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    6 days ago
  • Rāhui day 4
    The kids did surprisingly well today – meltdown count was about 3, and mostly fairly short ones. (And a fourth while I was writing.) Game-wise I had a go at Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark. It’s a fairly standard RPG with turn-based combat and what they call a “mature storyline” (it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    6 days ago
  • Letter to a friend
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 22, 2020 through Sat, Mar 28, 2020 Articles Linked to on Facebook Sun, Mar 22, 2020 In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters by Chelsea Harvey, ...
    1 week ago
  • Rāhui day 3
    I’m here in lockdown with my flatmate and her two girls (6 and 2) and it. is. a time. They’re usually really active so to start with the only boardgame in the house is the copy of Guess Who that the 6 year old got for her birthday. Flatmate commented ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    1 week ago
  • A test of civil society.
    The CV-19 (COVID) pandemic has seen the imposition of a government ordered national quarantine and the promulgation of a series of measures designed to spread the burden of pain and soften the economic blow on the most strategically important and most vulnerable sectors of society. The national narrative is framed ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 2
    . . Lock Down: Day 2 – A photo essay with observations . March 27 – Day 2 of our Strange New World. The Park and Ride near my suburb, usually filled with hundreds of vehicles, had just… four; . . Another drive into Wellington City on a highway nearly ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    1 week ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    1 week ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    1 week ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    1 week ago
  • After the Pandemic
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    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    1 week ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    1 week ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    2 weeks 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
    2 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
    2 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
    2 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    4 days 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
    4 days 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
    4 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago