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National’s priorities

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, September 8th, 2012 - 74 comments
Categories: jobs, privatisation - Tags:

(From the Greens’ Facebook page)

In related news, I see Steven Joyce has met with Solid Energy and the Spring Creek miners. He’s got a solution: not a dollar to help the mine stay open. Instead, he says the workers could go work in Christchurch. No plan to help them get jobs there or create additional jobs there – just ‘go to Christchurch’. Yeah, Christchurch: that place that where there is not a single job for skilled miners, which has lost 32,000 jobs since the quakes began and which  is still losing jobs.

74 comments on “National’s priorities ”

  1. weka 1

    He probably means they can go work as labourers on building sites. 

    I hate that idea that people can just up sticks and move. What about their families and communities, their homes, their lives that may be tied into where they live, their kids who have a school and friends and a life where they already live etc? Having a subset of the workforce that is relocatable makes sense when you have young people without dependents wanting to move around and try out new things. But expecting anyone/everyone to do that destabilises families and communities.

    It’s like people who work are economic units now rather than people, much in the same way that stock on farms are no longer animals but economic units. It doesn’t really matter what happens to any individual unit, so long as the profit is made.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Labour-force mobility is one of the strengths of the US economy.

      This is a contributing facet as to why the US economy has had such weak growth in the last couple of years: the housing crisis left many homeowners underwater on their loans so they couldn’t afford to sell their houses and move to find new jobs like would normally happen.


      • weka 1.1.1

        Sure, economic growth at the expense of family and community. Who is the economy meant to be for?

        • BM

          New Zealand.

        • Lanthanide

          I’m not playing it up as a really great virtue or anything, just pointing out that in other cultures moving around a lot isn’t seen as that big a deal.

          • weka

            Whereas I’m definitely saying it is a big problem. The US is not a very good example of a country that values family and community 😉

            I don’t know the West Coast very well, but I’ve seen what’s happened to other small and rural communities when economics trumps. You don’t have to take too many families out of a small community for that to affect the number of teachers at the local school for instance. Supporting  the stability of communities should be one of our highest priorities. 

            • Colonial Viper

              The US is not a very good example of a country that values family and community

              Well you’re talking about Democrats and Republicans messing around in power in DC. But that does not represent the rest of the US.

              • weka

                Right, I said that in the context of a discussion about governments that run economies for reasons other than the good of the people in the country they govern. 

                I’m not sure about the US people themselves. Seems to me that the US is a whole lot of countries on a continent and it would be hard to generalise about something like the value of family and community. 

                However I would say that New Zealanders seem to be valuing those things less and less. It’s changed alot in my lifetime (I voted for the first time in 1984). 

    • Fisiani 1.3

      There are more people employed in New Zealand NOW than at any other time in history.
      More nurses, more doctors, more midwives , more teachers.

      • mike e 1.3.1

        more part time house maids

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.2

        There are more people employed in New Zealand NOW than at any other time in history.

        Especially more than the time of the Moa.

      • Lanthanide 1.3.3

        More people living here. Also more people leaving for Australia.

        Which ones do we get gold stars for?

      • locus 1.3.4

        … such a profound comment… let’s add… more poverty, more income disparity, more toxic debt, more finance company bailouts, more economic mismanagement, more excuses, more rwnj prejudice…..

      • Macro 1.3.5


      • bbfloyd 1.3.6

        just strolling through, and wasn’t intending to join in, but fisi….fisi…fisi…sigh….

        To be fair, here’s one for you….

        There are more people in new zealand now than at any time in history…..

        If we had a government that actually governed, then the proportion of those record setting population figures that worked would be reaching much…..much greater historical heights…

        Wouldn’t that be spiffing……

  2. Policy Parrot 2

    “National’s priorities” are a joke.

  3. Ben 3

    Many people haven’t made the connection that the tens of thousands that have left for Australia are making this figure look better than it actually is.

    • Tiger Mountain 3.1

      Thats right if all the “mozzies” and others had not decamped things would be a lot rawer here and unemployment huge. The real figures are not 6.8% but more like 21% when chronic underemployment is added in.

      The insidious effects of 30 years of neo lib alienation “it’s all about me, did I mention me…” led to the lower turnouts in succeeding general elections and low political participation generally.

      Why are we running a country at all really, soon there will only be beneficiaries here (national super, Working For Families in work tax credit middle class welfare, and the real “dirty filthy bennies” at WINZ (those that don’t get kicked off by the two Paulas of course). Along with immigrant and local precarious underpaid service and aged care workers, and a continuous sinking lid public sector. One of our biggest exports is repatriated profits to overseas finance capital via the current account deficit.

      Manufacturing is on the ropes. A sector of polluting Dairy Farmers and our very own international corporate Fonterra, and that is about it. In the Far North median income is just over $19,000 pa fer crissakes! National is meant to the party of aspiration, so lets hope lots of people aspire to a whacking great student loan and burger flipping or sex work.

      • David H 3.1.1

        Or they could just watch Star Trek Voyager series one episode one, about 5 minutes in, where they show New Zealand as a Prison country. Now that would Give Ahab (Joyce) a warm shiver.

        • Lanthanide

          Watched that a few weeks ago. It’s a “penal colony”, rather than a “prison country”. But really all that means is that there’s a star fleet prison there.

          New Zealand actually gets mentioned a lot throughout the show, perhaps one of the countries on Earth that is spoke of the most (since they rarely discuss Earth in any of the series). I think it’s most prevalent in DS9. One of the writers had a spouse from NZ or something.

  4. fabregas4 4

    For Maori in particular ‘just moving to Christchurch’ displays a sad understanding of links to local whenua, marae, whanau. This is one of the main reasons that the government needs to be involved in job creation in NZ if they really have a commitment to Maori. They need to help regions build job opportunities.

  5. mike e 5

    Jobs for Conmankeys Goldman sachs mates

  6. fatty 6

    Christchurch cannot house people at the moment. The degree of homelessness at the moment is Chch’s biggest issue. NGOs are bearing the brunt, shelters have been packed for months, and the problem is not improving.
    Unless people are coming to Chch to assist in the building of residential homes, they are compounding the effects of the earthquake.

  7. The letters from winz are out,older women living on their own are expected to look for work
    and be work ready regardless of health issues, if you dont look for work,benefit is cut or reduced.
    What was it again that p benefit worked in? b—–l,it might have to be an option for some
    of the women over 50, perhaps they may have to enlist some help and prior knowledge from the the top level, i understand from the media they are paid well above the minimum wage.
    Wouldn’t it be best to focus on the youth unemployment,the child poverty ?
    Message to key,benefit,joyce etc,leave the ol’girls alone, they have worked and bought up
    families,contributed to society,they are on a benefit for a reason not because they desire to be.
    National’s priorities are evident,more favouritism for the elite.less recognition of the
    average nz’er.

  8. gobsmacked 8

    “We turned the West Coast blue” – quote from John Key, Radio Live, commenting on the 2008 election result.

    They’ve certainly got the blues now.

  9. captain hook 9

    for all its pompous rhetoric about freedom and democracy this National Government shows a tru;ly paranoid inability to let people make their own decisions for themselves.
    All the tories can do is interfere in other peoples lives.
    they are very sick.

  10. BM 10

    Bit tough for the miners especially with the mining economy in Oz collapsing, no where to run to unfortunately.

    But I don’t think the taxpayers should be subsidising these guys jobs

    • mike e 10.1

      Just put them on the dole BM then get rednecks to demoralize them even more.

    • Lanthanide 10.2

      “But I don’t think the taxpayers should be subsidising these guys jobs”

      Yeah, I am also weary at this.

      CV jumped on me for saying it and came back asking wouldn’t I like it if the shareholders in the company I worked for took a loss in the pocketbook to keep my job going for a while until conditions improved? My answer to that is, of course, yes, I would like to keep my job as long as possible.

      But that’s not quite what we’re talking about here, because the government, and tax revenue, is not the same as a private business. For shareholders, the sole purpose of a business is to return a profit and if they can reasonably see that if they ride out an immediate trough they’ll return to profitability further down the line, then that is a risk they might be willing to take. But government tax revenue is used for all manner of different things, such as education, health and benefits.

      It doesn’t seem very fair to me that the government should step in and keep these jobs going while losing money (and average salary is going to be north of $80k, which (sadly) is good money in NZ) but that other people who are on the employment benefit don’t get anywhere near that money. It also seems to be arguing that the government should step into private businesses and prop them up when they’re going through a tough patch. The entire point of the SoE model is that they’re run as independent private companies: the government is unlikely to bail out The Warehouse or Farmers, so why should they bail out Solid Energy?

      Against that of course there are other strategic decisions, like keeping skilled workers in NZ so that when (if) the jobs come back again the workforce is there and ready and the government can reap the tax rewards. But my feeling is that in this case the threshold isn’t really met; contrast that to the government’s procurement of rolling stock overseas when an economic analysis would almost certainly show a net positive if the work had been done here.

      • BM 10.2.1

        Against that of course there are other strategic decisions, like keeping skilled workers in NZ so that when (if) the jobs come back again the workforce is there and ready and the government can reap the tax rewards. But my feeling is that in this case the threshold isn’t really met; contrast that to the government’s procurement of rolling stock overseas when an economic analysis would almost certainly show a net positive if the work had been done here.

        It’s a global market place so getting skilled people isn’t as tough as it used to be.
        If you advertised for 100-200 miners you wouldn’t have a shortage of applicants.

        • Colonial Viper

          Time to import lower wages and lower living standards into NZ. Maybe from Indonesia or Africa?

          Push Kiwi’s further down into the dirt.

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.2

        Lanth. Government, more than private enterprise, needs to take a long term view of the country.

        You lose those jobs you save the Government money. But you COST those COMMUNITIES the same amount of money. Do you not understand that.

        • BM

          So they just keep digging out the coal and stockpiling it until the market picks up again?

          • Colonial Viper

            The coal is still worth plenty mate.

            • BM

              That’s what I mean, is it better to close the mine while the market is depressed or just keep extracting the coal and sell it once the price picks up again.

              According to this article though all the easy coal has been dug up so the current form of underground mining at the current price isn’t viable.


              • Colonial Viper

                Of course its viable, you just use future and recent profits to pay the miners today.

                • Lanthanide

                  Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    disaster in the lives of these miner’s families and the communities they live in doesn’t count? What happened to the record monies Solid Energy was crowing about at the start of the year.

                    • Bored

                      From a business perspective the real disaster would be a loss of the skills as people move away, and the destruction of capital assets as they rot unused. Local businesses would also feel the chill wind, another disaster. The reality is that we would probably have miners on the dole and an impoverished community when for a little more cash we could indeed stockpile coal / utilise elsewhere in the NZ economy. Remember every dollar of dole is lost from productive use.

        • Lanthanide

          So why should the government step in for Solid Energy in Greymouth, but not any other number of anchor industries in small rural towns? Why shouldn’t they prop up a failing freezing works or sawmill that employs 40% of any random rurual town’s people?

          The fact that it’s an SOE doesn’t magically mean the government is responsible for it. The whole point of SOEs is that they operate as private companies.

          In that light, the government is at least being consistent when they didn’t step in and make Kiwirail buy their locomotives locally as the strict cost of them was higher than the alternative. However in that case I believe it would have been the correct thing to do, as the returns would have been short term, readily accountable/calculable and would provide a skills base in NZ that could maybe some day could become an exporter for the country.

          Coal mines don’t export anything except coal, and once it’s gone it’s gone. But there’s no strict physical limit on the number of trains or other heavy machinery that a company could create, as long as the demand and raw materials are present.

          Finally I ask, what happens if the coal prices took a long time to pick up? What if they never pick up again (new technology, or a massive disaster strikes the demand centres)? What if in 5 years time the prices have exploded? Better to leave the coal in the ground now, when it’d be running at a loss to extract, to save up the wealth for the future.

          • Colonial Viper

            Lanth the points you raise are all good ones. What I am asking is that peoples lives and the communities that they live and love in are not treated like disposable throw away shit.

            Is that really too much to ask. It frustrates me because you are such a smart guy yet buy into the narrative that there are no alternatives. Which is bullshit.

            Solid Energy made a tonne of money and up until Q1 of this year during record high coal prices. How about spending a few million of it helping cushion the blow? I hear that there is a real shortage of highly trained mine safety inspectors in NZ. Why don’t we use this opportunity to train another 25, for instance???

            If you really want to learn what can be done maybe we could look at what a private sector company which actually cares about its staff like Toyota does during a major downturn? And more than anything its their ***corporate philosophy*** which is important.


            “We take care of the people who make our product, and we provide them with one of the industry’s best wage and benefit packages,” James said. Toyota demonstrated that philosophy during the recession. “As you can imagine the results of shutting down a plant is quite costly,” James said. “But in the long run we think that the cost of sending everyone home and laying them off is even higher. “Why? Because we believe when you do that, you actually squander the opportunity to retrain and refocus your workforce. We wanted to take advantage of our team members’ capabilities, so we had them making improvements to their processes. We used their ideas to make the lines more efficient. While our plants were idle, we got creative.”

            • Lanthanide

              I agree that the sentiment is poor, but it’s the norm. Maybe we should change that, and could start changing it with the SOEs leading the way? Unfortunately I think the average NZer is just too selfish for this and we won’t see any substantial change without a massive cultural shift which would probably take a crisis to induce (like the great depression).

              As for your specific question about mines safety inspectors:
              1. Difficult to be a safety inspector if there aren’t many operating mines
              2. It seems that companies in NZ aren’t willing to risk the substantial cost and time input to train someone when they could go to Auzzie or elsewhere and easily fetch 50% higher pay.

              The solution to #2 is of course higher wages, or some sort of bonding scheme. Or just selecting the right applicants who have strong ties and won’t leave (life circumstances can change quite suddenly though).

              • Tiger Mountain

                What happened to “we take care of our own”?

                A “new deal” style realignment and groveling repudiation of TINA (there is no alternative to neo liberal crappola) is urgently required from the Labour Party which is why that organisation’s rejigging of structures and procedures is so important, and to some extent the Green Party too.

                We are going to have our ‘Greek moment’ here sooner rather than later.

                • Colonial Viper

                  which is why that organisation’s rejigging of structures and procedures is so important

                  To be blunt, its a rejigging of people, attitudes and mission which is the more important and that is NOT covered at all in what is coming up.

                  Organisational failures are rarely primarily a failure of structure and procedures (although they can play a contributing role). They are usually primarily a failure of leadership.

  11. mike e 11

    from south africa

  12. Rusty Hellback 12

    Time for the righteous Generation X to stand up and be counted!!!

    before the boomers con the slackers into doing nothing and passing the reins over to the brainwashed Xers to continue the raping and pillaging on their behalf.

    Forget class war. This conflicts intergenerational. Ideologically intergenerational.

    EVOLVE or DIE…

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Noticed a bunch of walking dead with gold cards in the shopping malls today…

      • Rusty Hellback 12.1.1

        Zombies are an apt analogy. Not so much for the gold carders but for the brain dead poltically unmotivated ignorati who dont know what time it is…

        • Colonial Viper

          I should clarify, with gold credit cards, not Winston’s ones.

          • Lanthanide

            Gold credit cards are a scam, only suckers fall for them. Or the very very wealthy, that do actually regularly need the increased credit limit and still pay it off every month. But I’d guess that probably makes up 2-3% of all gold CC holders.

  13. Lloyd 13

    In the 1980s Norman Tebbit recommended the use of a bike for British unemployed to get to the next job. Remember ‘on yer bike’?

    If John Key’s cycleways had been built the National party could also recommend the use of the cycleways after getting ‘on yer bike’.

    I think National have missed a minor PR coup.

    It must also be remembered that only hardened Torys thought Norman Tebbit wasn’t a heartless git.

    • kiwi_prometheus 13.1

      So how is Labour and the Left planning to vanquish unemployment?

    • kiwi_prometheus 13.2

      Because unemployment has been around since I can remember – as a teenager in the 80’s, I remember dad took the golden handshake from Telecom, the glass towers going up in Auckland City, farmers walking off the land, the sharemarket euphoria then crash. All while Labour was at the helm.

      Then the long grind of austerity under National during the 90s then Helengrad and a 9 year false new dawn of a property bubble, followed by the greatest crash since the 1930s and more National austerity.

      • Draco T Bastard 13.2.1

        Yep, Labour got taken over by the neo-liberals in the late 1970s and it was them who decimated the NZ economy through the term of the 4th Labour government. We’ve been going backwards ever since.

        • TheContrarian

          Yeah, it certainly didnt suck having to apply to the government for overseas spending money.

          • kiwi_prometheus

            You sound like one of those Remuera posh cows I once heard lauding the ‘miracle of deregulation’ back in the day.

            Her evidence? You could now find a choice selection of Italian and Argentinian marble for the bathroom, on the high street in Newmarket. Fabulous darling!

          • Draco T Bastard

            I didn’t say it was perfect.

          • Colonial Viper

            Yeah, it certainly didnt suck having to apply to the government for overseas spending money.

            Yes because having the country bear a massive balance of payments deficit every year is a great alternative.

  14. Frankie and Benjy 14

    Long term, history has shown that the West Coast will need something else other than mining to sustain the local economy. “Extractive industry” will always come to an end. Or at least that what I was taught in geography classes at school many years ago.
    “In 1884 the Waiorongomai Township boasted three hotels, nearly a dozen stores and a school. There were regular buggy rides from Te Aroha. A miner’s life was harsh, however; diggers worked away in the hills for months on end and they established the settlement of Quartzville high in the valley.”
    Surely miners and their families know that this could be a longer term reality?

  15. captain hook 15

    national party adherents think that jobs are things where you get people in a financial trap and browbeat them psychologically while you watch them squirm.
    everything else comes from china.
    are you dopey or something?

  16. Karl Sinclair 16

    There is an old adage that a fish rots from the head. If presidents and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will? And if no one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?


    On the importance of paying taxes. With specific reference to Mitt Romney and the US but Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and former World Bank chief economist, says this goes far beyond petty politics or indeed America. “Economies in which government provides public goods (such as education, technology and infrastructure) perform far better than those in which it does not,” he says. But public goods must be paid for. “If presidents and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will? And if no-one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?”

    Democracies rely on a spirit of trust and cooperation in paying taxes. If every individual devoted as much energy and resources as the rich do to avoiding their fair share of taxes, the tax system either would collapse, or would have to be replaced by a far more intrusive and coercive scheme. Both alternatives are unacceptable

  17. infused 17

    complaining about mining, mining shuts down and still complaining… I see now.

  18. Roy 18

    Does Joycey realize that you can’t just commute from the West Coast to Chch? They would have to move their whole families over to Chch to live in…what? There is no housing in Chch.

    • infused 18.1

      That’s what happens. You think jobs magically appear? No, you move closer to work… what do you think happens @ WINZ? If you live too far away, you don’t get a benefit. You need to live closer to the work.

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