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No ambition for New Zealand

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, April 11th, 2011 - 105 comments
Categories: bill english, privatisation, wages - Tags:

National came to power promising to close the wage gap with Australia. Not only have they failed to fulfill that promise but Bill English now portrays it as a good thing. His appearance on Q+A yesterday only confirms how out of touch National is: determined to sell our assets for no good reason, against our will, and happy with our low wages.

Here’s Guyon Espiner taking English to task:

GUYON Let’s talk about the logic of moving those assets on in terms of the ones that you actually want to sell. In 2010, you got $831 million in dividends from the state-owned enterprises and Air New Zealand. Now, $802 million, almost all of that, came from the five companies that you want to sell. I mean, aren’t you killing the goose that laid the golden egg here?

BILL Well, under the model the government has proposed, we would be maintaining at least 51% ownership in those companies, so we still have a right to the dividends that would come from it.

GUYON Well, half the dividends, presumably.

BILL Well, the dividends that come to our 51% share, that’s right. Half the dividends. And we believe in the long run we’re going to get better performance and more value out of those companies by having the opportunity for Kiwis to buy a share in it, get better performance from the market pressure that would be on them.

GUYON But is that true? Your own Treasury says, and I quote, in the paper that you requested on this issue, ‘There is no clear evidence to suggest that financial performance of the SOE companies is better or worse than private-sector comparables.’ It says, ‘There’s little evidence to suggest that privatisation would significantly improve the financial performance of many of the SOE companies.’

BILL Well, we simply don’t agree necessarily with Treasury on that, and we have a number of—

GUYON But Treasury aren’t exactly left-wing sort of hand-wringers on this, are they?

BILL Well, they’ve had no experience of these kind of asset sales now for 10 or 15 years, so it’s not something they’ve dealt with.

GUYON Where are you taking advice from? Is it just you and a few other Cabinet ministers? I mean, if Treasury don’t even believe, and they say there will be ‘modest economic gains’, where has your evidence come from?

BILL Well, we are of the view that the model, like Air New Zealand, has worked very well – mixed ownership where a combination of market pressure, an arm’s-length relationship with government has allowed that company to go through considerable changes and achieve what’s very difficult to achieve anywhere in the world, and that is be a successful regional airline. So we’re more convinced than Treasury that we’ll get better performance out of those companies, but we have other objectives as well, which are to provide some kind of investment opportunities that New Zealanders think would be useful for them, particularly longer term solid investments after all the negative experiences that they’ve had.

In conclusion: English wants to trade our dividends in the future for cash up front. He and a few buddies reckon that getting the private sector in will make the SOEs more competitive but even Treasury thinks that’s just more billshit.

GUYON Can I talk about the real economy for people? They see the cost of living keep going up. They see wages really not— if not quite keeping pace with that, certainly not outstripping it much. I mean, you said at the weekend to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum that one of our advantages over Australia was that our wages were 30% cheaper. I mean, is that an advantage now?

BILL Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it? I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well.

GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia?

BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for Australia. So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia. We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians— Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact. We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing. This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia. That’s lifting the standard. They’re closing up the gap.

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia. So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand. If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

GUYON The last headline I saw said Australian had dropped its unemployment rate to 4.9%, added 37,800 jobs. Unemployment here pushing 7%, wages 30% higher over there – why wouldn’t you go?

BILL Well, some people will, and that’s fine, but why would we sit round being mesmerised by the fact that some Kiwis go to Australia? We’ve got a long-term plan to lift the performance of this economy, because we need higher incomes and we need more jobs.

Uh, huh. Wasn’t making middle-class women afraid their kids would emigrate to Australia central to National’s 2008 election campaign? You know, John Key standing in an empty stadium? Now, emigration is rising but it doesn’t matter and the low wages that are driving people away are a good thing. What a joke.

105 comments on “No ambition for New Zealand ”

  1. Bored 1

    Adfector ergo sum.

    Who needs ambition when you can “aspire”?

  2. Lanthanide 2

    If having wages 30% lower than Oz is so good and going to encourage so many Oz companies to move over here, how come over the last 15 years where we’ve had lower wages (since National ballsed everything up in the 90’s) we haven’t had streams of Ozzie companies setting up shop over here? (not counting the banks, of course, because they’re leeches).

    • Bored 2.1

      Oz companies don’t come here because we pay people doodly squat and we can’t afford their offerings. Instead we send people there, whilst the cash in NZ is hoarded by the squatocratic kleptocracy who work as merchant bankers, landlords and rentiers .
      For Joe Average in NZ having a job per se is the big one. If it’s in Oz good, and if its 30% better paid, well that’s lotto.

  3. Cadwallader 3

    English is right! 

  4. Zaphod Beeblebrox 4

    What a disasterous comment. What he is saying is that becoming a third world country is a good thing. You can’t interpret it any other way.

    • PeteG 4.1

      You can interpret it other ways if you think about it. English wasn’t being Politically Correct in how he talked about it, but he’s right.
      Having wage rates 30% lower than Australia is a differential we’d rather close, but while we have it we should try and use it to our advantage.

      • mickysavage 4.1.1

        So PeteG
        How do you feel about the fact that Blinglish and smile and wave lied to the NZ population?  They promised NZ would catch up with Australia but are now saying that it is beneficial for us to have poorer wages.

        • PeteG

          They promised NZ would catch up with Australia

          When did they promise that? When did they say we would catch up?

          are now saying that it is beneficial for us to have poorer wages.

          If you read the transcript in the post you will see:

          GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?
          BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact. We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete…

          Poor interview for English, he left the door wide open to poor comprehension (or deliberate misrepresentation) from people like MS.

          • mickysavage

            When did they promise that? When did they say we would catch up?
            Aww PeteG you are now into serious troll mode.

            • PeteG

              If I make unsubstantiated claims I get called a troll and am asked to front up with something to back it up. You?

              • I am not sure why I am wasting time on you.
                I called you a troll because you asked when National promised to catch our wages up with Australia and when did they say we would catch up.
                There are blind eskimos in Greenland without internet access who are aware that National promised this continuously during 2008 and 2009 and that it had to happen by 2025.  You have just confused and mangled another thread.  This is why I called you a troll.

                • PeteG

                  Instead of wasting time on me maybe you should spend more time reading the transcript. I don’t see anywhere in it English saying:

                  “We want to lock our wage rate at least 30% below Australia’s right through to 2025, and when they run out of minerals to mine we will shoot half our cows to ensure we stay below them”.

                  And you should also try and get your head around the idea that anyone who believes that a policy target for 17 years in the future when there are likely to be several changes of government can be construed as a set in concrete promise they need to learn about political reality.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    PeteG’s now saying that it is “political reality” to consider anything that comes out of English’s and Key’s mouths about the future as facile, convenient lies, nothing to be taken seriously.
                    Hey mate I agree.

                    I don’t see anywhere in it English saying:

                    You also don’t see where English has a plan to close the gap with Australia. Or indeed, any plan for the people of this country whatsoever. Apart from being wage serfs of course.

                  • RobC

                    MS – Pete does have a point.

                    We shouldn’t be wasting time on him. I know it’s so tempting but there comes a time where the fun turns to boredom. It gets a bit pointless, I’m beginning to think he is not mischievous at all and might have an intellectual disability. I’m beginning to feel sorry for him.

          • Alexandra

            We were told that the goal was to close the wage gap by 2020. Of course no quarantee but no actual plan to close the gap either. The gaps widened in the Nats short time in govenment and now were being told the wage gap will encourage aussie investment here. English can’t argue the advantages of our low waged economy and pretend that its not a good thing.

        • Herodotus

          MS same as Labour regarding OECD rankings Nat = Lab. For me progressing up the rankings means improving not going backwards !!!
          Also how are Mum & Dads suppose to be able to afford to buy into these coys when/if they are partially sold?
          I know in my situation it will not be easy eating the insects (especialy as the Cidas are now out of season) around my house to save for the this households share allocation. Looks like I will have to be short term in my approach and clean out the worm farm !!!

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2

        You can interpret it other ways if you think about it.

        Only if you’re in the habit of lying to yourself.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.1.3

        So 40% or 50% will be even better?

        • Drakula

          I get your drift Zaphod; how about slave labour, no unions, minimal conditions and police surveillence?

          Pure utopia!!!

          They would do Ill Duce proud!!!  – – – -Wouldn’t they?

  5. Steve Withers 5

    Poor Bill English. He let the cat out of the bag. They TALK about raising wages, but they DO everything they can (90-day trials, union busting) to prevent it so NZ workers will be – and remain – cheaper. 

    Every Kiwi should learn at least THIS much about National between here and the election. It’s why their kids are all on employment contracts offering minimum wage with no overtime paid for over time..and you work whenever and for as long as required. Or piss off. 

    A lot of National voters must either hate their kids….or they don’t see how abstract policies they support affect their own kids in the real world. 

    Next comes more expensive student loans so we have an even larger pool of this cheap, unskilled labour. 

    If I was 18yo, I’d get the hell out of New Zealand. There is no future here unless your parents are already rich. 

    • George D 5.1

      Labour has no plans to reintroduce overtime. And yes, I’m considering moving back to Australia.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        Yeah, I noticed that and yet it’s the simplest way to provide full employment and to encourage actual investment in productive capital.

  6. millsy 6

    Well I was watching Sunday’s movie last night, which was a rather lame Ben Stiller vehicle, had some funny moments, but I kept waiting for it to get better, anyway, part of the movie took place in Mexico, at a holiday resort where rich Americans would relax and the local population would wait on them hand and foot.

    With the news that Bill English has said what he said about wages, it only reminded me of how we are going to the Mexico to Australia’s USA.

    • south paw 6.1

      Yeah, apparently Hollywood industry already refers to us as “Mexicans with cell phones”.

      • Jum 6.1.1


        Thanks South Paw.  That information will come in very handy over the next few months.

        At least my intention not to enter any cinema for the two Hobbit films will lose $30 profit to ‘them’.  I will pay $1 each for renting the DVDs when they come out or I won’t watch them at all.

        To think back to the Lord of the Rings films when our whole family would leap in the car and go to Auckland; they were special times.  Not anymore.

        Just one more reason to hate the American puppet-boy Key.

        • Drakula

          I can just see the likes of Dame Edna Everidge having a little Kiwi (Mexican) peddling the dynamo in the celler!!!!!

          When we get more outages!!!!

  7. Samuel Hill 7

    Please tell me if I’m wrong. But, it seems to me that the current goal of the worldwide financial system is to take as much money from workers and put it in the hands of the capital market? Isn’t this just National playing along with that idea? They are now using the tax payers money to keep financial markets moving. Soon the money will run out from all the bailouts, and the taxes and  global prices will increase.

    We’re screwed aren’t we.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      I’d tell you that you’re wrong but you’re not. And, yes, we’re screwed.

      • Campbell Larsen 7.1.1

        Strategies people please, not despair.
        Jane Kelsey of TPP watch has one: Governments when they fail in their obligation to consult with the public that they are supposed to represent are without mandate and thus the populace is entitled to refuse to abide by any agreements negotiated in this manner.

        When our economic policy is determined by blackmail from the IMF, world bank and ratings agencies we are also entitled to distance ourselves from the debt obligations that have been created by successive spineless (or more kindly, powerless) Govts

        The lack of an independent free press in NZ (by independent I mean free from commercial/ political interference) is beginning to erode our democracy to the point that even elections cannot be held to be binding.

         What does a future that addresses these points look like? Very different, and not without challenges but at least not bleak.

  8. On one hand we have Bill English saying low wages are good, then on the other hand, John Key is saying that environmental campaigners disrupting oil exploration off the East Cape are standing in the way of “better jobs and better incomes”.


    Two opposing points of view, both promoting the needs of corporations.

  9. millsy 9

    On the topic of oil drilling, does anyone see the irony in the government promoting privatisation, etc but sells oil drilling rights to a company controlled by the Brazilian government?

    • Afewknowthetruth 9.1


      Privatisation is the euphemism for transferring control of assets and resources to international corporations for them to exploit for profit.  It is always sold as ‘for the public good’.

      That’s how an Orwellian society operates  -war is peace, ignorance it strength, the chocolate ration has been increased from 25g to 20g.  

      • Jum 9.1.1

        Yes it came to a contact firm near me, sending a letter beginning “we are pleased to announce an increase in the cost of your power…

    • No its a SOE it has big loans from Chinese state banks and partnerships with private big oil, so its one of the biggest PPPs you could dream up. Even bigger than NZ as a branch of the Chinese state. Anyway we all know that PPPs are just front loaded bailouts.

  10. Afewknowthetruth 10

    The major reason Australia is doing well is because they are digging up the place and selling to China. The money acquired is being used to fuel unsustainable urban expansion and keep the bubble economy inflating. NZ can never compete with that.

    How long unsustainable mining and unsustainable urban expansion can continue is anyone’s guess, but Oz is headed for long term economic and environmental catastrophe, just like every other nation, but is more vulnerable to environmental collapse than many.  

    I would imagine Bill English’s ambition is to fulfil the instructions given to him by the Bilderbergers etc. and get his reward  -a knighthood or a position at the UN or as an ambassador-  for his part transferring wealth overseas, just as his predecessors did.

    What is good for NZ or NZers doesn’t even come into the argument. 

  11. Steve Withers 11

    PeteG: National made a huge issue of the wage gap with Australia in the 2008 election year. Links are everywhere to be found via a Google search….even now. Granted the National Party itself has cleansed its web site of any *current* policy reference to it, but press releases from 2008 betray the real history. The target date was 2025 – under Don Brash and no one ever said it stopped being policy. They have just quietly dropped it as they know that with their current policies the gap can only get wider….not shrink.

    • PeteG 11.1

      Weren’t Act the main actors there? The 2025 report was a sop to them and pretty much dissed by National.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        PeteG, National spinmeister history revisionist.
        Actually now that I recall, English and Key have always thought that lower wages in NZ was a good thing.
        So you are right

        • felix

          “Tax cuts? I don’t remember National mentioning anything about tax cuts…”
          – Pete George, tomorrow morning.

  12. Steve Withers 12

    Samuel: We’re screwed if people keep electing National Party governments. But then they will find out eventually it is voters themselves who are collectively accountable to themselves for their ignorance…and its consequences. Of course voters are terrible at accepting the blame for anything. Much like the people they elect in that regard. We’re all taught at school that if we know nothing, we can’t possibly be responsible for anything, right? But their comes a time when collective determined ignorance results in general ‘punishment’ without blame. It affects everyone.

    • Afewknowthetruth 12.1

      ‘We’re screwed if people keep electing National Party governments’

      Very true. However, the difference between genius and supitity is that genius has limits  -Einstein.

      The people of NZ have been carefully trained to vote National or Labour. It’s rather like a game of ping-pong in which the voters are the ball. The basic policies of both parties are the same, of course, dictated by the international money-lenders.  

    • Samuel Hill 12.2

      I agree with you somewhat. I think we the citizens can take some of the blame, due to the fact that there are hardly any strong voices speaking out against our governments. But the media and other ideological states aparatuses of NZ keep this “blue-red” system in power. When we can vote for individuals and forget party affiliations we will be getting somewhere.

      • Steve Withers 12.2.1

        Samuel: Political parties are inevitable. The world is HUGE. Even tiny NZ is HUGE with 4.5 million people compared to only one of each of us. We, as individuals, can’t scale. If 100 people want to talk to us for an hour each, it would take a week…..and a very full one at that with little time for family, friends or meals.

        Run a campaign? With what resources? You *need* an organisation of some kind, even for just an electorate. I’ve leafleted 5,000 homes in a week. For even that simple task, it leaves little time for anything else and each electorate averages 19,000 homes.

        Want to form any *useful* policy? You need experts and access to their time. None of us can be experts on everything…or more than a couple of things. “Common sense” is too often half-baked, uninformed nonsense.

        What we CAN do is share values and ideas…and gather under banners that (supposedly, ideally, hopefully) make it clear what values and ideas we support. Then, together, we can scale to meet the challenge of communicating with those around us whatever message we seek to share with them. 

        Don’t call it a political party if you don’t want to…..but by any name it will end up doing exactly the same things. The reason for it is each of us is tiny, limited, largely ignorant about almost everything in detail….and we NEED each other to get the job done together.

        I’d rather vote for competent diverse team with values I share than a prima donna. This is another reason First Past the Post is a steaming heap of turds. All it gives us is a couple of prima donnas to choose from – if we’re lucky enough to have any choice at all.

        • Samuel Hill

          I don’t like voting for a party list. I think each electorate should have two MPs.

    • Galeandra 12.3

      Yes, Steve, but there are still an awful lots of people genuinely worried about the current motley crew but who  feel filled with fear by the thought of another Labour government. Can you blame them for a frying pan/fire perception? The MMS can’t be blamed entirely for the view that Labour have in recent times been autocratic, or inept, or in denial about the necessary responses to the brewing global  storms.

  13. Morgy 13

    People are missing something here; Bill English said it wasn’t good to have this gap but the fact is it offers a strategic advantage at the moment. He then goes on to say they want that closed….therefore the advantage to diminish. Why do you fail to see that on this thread? You are again creating a story of paranoia out of half a soundbite. DUMB! Do you really think he is looking to lock in that differential? There are some very stupid comments in here…..and I know I will get lambasted….but only from those refusing to accept that there isn’t actually a story here. I am a national voter BUT if he did say that I would be the first to agree with you. I just wonder if there is a chance for political debate here rather than strange people living in a world of ever decreasing circles. Christ, you are all sounding like Bomber Bradbury!

    • Galeandra 13.1

      And you sound like a National voter. That’s bad for John Key!

    • RobC 13.2

      Morgy, just think about it (and I’ll use simple language)

      The income gap is not good.
      The income gap is an advantage.

      Do you see any contradiction there? I mean, if the income gap is an advantage, why would you want to close it?

      Either the income gap is an advantage and therefore good …
      Or the income gap is not good and it really isn’t an advantage at all.

      Hope that helps.

      • PeteG 13.2.1

        The preference is to close the gap. But while there is a difference we should try to exploit any advantages that the difference provides.
        Hope that helps.

        • Colonial Viper

          The preference is to actively suppress New Zealand wages while increasing returns for shareholders.

          National is turning NZ into the sweatshop of the South Pacific.

          • PeteG

            I didn’t expect you to get it. I was surprised RobC’s superior intellect and sanity doesn’t appear to help his understanding.

            • Colonial Viper

              Oh I get it just fine. Bill and John want to see NZ wages fall, like they have said all along.
              It’s ‘advantageous’ (to the corporate class) after all.

            • Draco T Bastard

              I am unsurprised that you don’t get it.

      • Morgy 13.2.2

        RobC you again miss the point; CONTEXT….which is so clearly obvious if you read the transcript….so let me work it into your day…..

        The income gap is not good and we want to fix it, it is however a fact that whilst it is this big, it is an advantage. An advantage expected to deminish as the wage gap closes.

        You are either just being ‘clever’ or you are so “LABOUR GOOD…..NATIONAL BAD” you can’t see it.

        • Colonial Viper

          Business leaders have no interest in closing the wage gap
          The wage gap is good for profits
          They will keep the wage serfs around as long as they can via programmes of active wage suppression.
          More and more of our best most motivated talent is leaving for Australia.
          Apparently this is “advantageous”. According to Crosby Textor.

    • Steve Withers 13.3

      Morgy: I absolutely agree that Bill English is promoting the current wage gap as an advantage. I’m not sure I can agree National still wants to close the wage gap with Australia as it no longer appears among the policy goals on the National Party web site. What does appear there is coded language like “flexible work force” – translating into people who do what they’re told for what you’re offering and they don’t argue or they won’t have a job. We can quibble over the details, but that IS the result of the 90-day trial law and the moves to further weaken union capabilities to effectively represent workers. Let us also not forget that each time National has won government, unemployment *always* goes up….which results in competition for jobs and this also keeps wages and conditions down. You don’t need to take my word for this. It has been a consistent pattern for the past 30 years. Check it out. 

      • Morgy 13.3.1

        And Steve when the other mob are in, we fill the public sector up. There is no coded message. There is the way National do things and the way Labour do things. No surprises here at all. The right would argue that the more Labour locked into welfare (WFF) was simply to dumb down the electorate and secure more sycophants. But at the end of the day it is what they do isn’t it. Labour = Mum knows best, employers are likely to treat employees poorly etc and National are the opposite; you know best so live your life, the poor employers are by far the minority so lets write legislation to encourage a better opporutnity for both employee and employer. No code here at all.

        • millsy


          Does it bother you that it appears that employers will only hire someone if they can get rid of them?

          Doesn’t it make workers for all intents and purposes, expendable ?

    • Draco T Bastard 13.4

      Do you really think he is looking to lock in that differential?

      Tax cuts for the rich
      Tax increases for the poor
      Removal of work rights
      Throwing lots of people into unemployment

      I think the answer is a fairly obvious yes, that’s exactly what he intends to do.

    • Puddleglum 13.5

      Hi Morgy,

      I can see your point but you need to think it through a bit further. Bill English is basically saying that, currently, having lower wages in NZ than Australia will drag Australian capital over here – despite Australia’s other, current, advantages. If English wants, eventually, to “diminish” that advantage then will Australian (and other) capital then go back to Australia (or elsewhere – e.g., places with wages at about NZ’s present level)?

      If so, then why seek to equalise wages between NZ and Australia? If not, then, ‘why not’? (i.e., what advantages will NZ at that point have that Australia, currently, does not have, sufficiently, to stop capital coming to low-wage NZ)?

      Is that the kind of “political debate” you would like to have?

      • Morgy 13.5.1

        Much better Puddlegum…as opposed to Draco’s drivel….

        It’s a valid point  but it depends. I work for a massive Australian company who have big interests here in NZ and employees thousands. They have set up, have gained market share and will, as long as the ROA is relevant, stay. If, like John Key said this morning, an Australian company has set up a call centre here (Canon I think) because it was more economic to do so plus they needed a greater skill than an 018 service that can be outsourced in the Phillipines, they may eventually head home…they may not. We are reducing company taxes, the exchange rate is a big part of the equation and of course labour costs will dicate what they do. Bill English wasn’t for a second saying this was the silver bullet. He just layed out a fact. I have been interested in the ‘sell’ on this though….in terms of closing the wage gap. If I remember correctly they wanted this closed by 2025….am I right that this was their policy? I can’t recall anywhere that this was to be closed by now.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Poor Morgy got upset by the facts.

        • RobC

          Oh, you want a rational discussion?

          You original post had such words as DUMB and stupid which rubbed my superior intellect up the wrong way.

          So let’s start again. English’s premise is the current wage gap advantages us to the extent that it should attract capital inflow which in turn will diminish that gap.

          The wage gap has not suddenly appeared – it’s been around for a while. There is no evidence, currently, that the 30% gap has, or will, attract the capital required to improve the economy. What I see is the opposite – dividends flowing offshore closely followed by 20,000+ Kiwis a year.

          So sorry, I don’t believe there will be a miracle of foreign investment to improve our economy anytime soon. To be honest, it disturbs me to think the current Minister of Finance actually believes this will occur.

  14. randal 14

    forget all the blather.
    national came into government with the firm intention of looting public assests and unless they are stopped at this election then they will.
    no amount of high blown rhetoric disguises the fact that they are thieves in sheeps clothing and uber greedy to boot.

  15. Irascible 15

    GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?
    BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact. We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing. This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia. That’s lifting the standard. They’re closing up the gap.

    Here’s the answer – competition to close the gap is confined to sport not to work according to English. In the context of this Q&A his analogy should relate to industry and wages not to sporting teams who neither provide large numbers of productive employment or  build or create anything of value in the economy. His analogy is shallow and insulting in the context of this discussion. It’s a wonder Guyon didn’t pick him up on it and expose English for the inadequate minister that he is.

    • Jum 15.1

      Yes, I could not believe it when he tried to use sports as an example of starving Kiwis lifting their standards.
      So English equates playing with a ball in the dirt as being the same I guess as human beings fighting in the gutter for their next loaf of bread.  That’ll get my support, not.  Not sure about the other two thirds of New Zealanders who welcome seeing fellow Kiwis being broken down into serfs.

  16. johnm 16

    Does NeoLiberal The Old Bill English need a face lift? He’s not giving Kiwis any lifts for sure : He wants to sell off what’s left of our sovereignty and wealth into Private hands, that means ordinary dumb kiwis will end up even poorer, But Hay! Key’s great looking and sooooo nice vote for him and more selfish tax cuts the common wellbeing doesn’t count any more and that requires we keep our wealth in our hands not sell it to foreign investment sharks!

    • Morgy 16.1

      Ok John. How should the tax system work? What is a high wage? What should the highest tax rate be? What should company tax be? Love to hear your economic revolution. Where is the evidence he wants to sell off our sovereignty and wealth….oh I get it….that loathsome idea of giving us the opporutnity to buy a part of our SOE’s? The ones that no one can buy more than 49% of and no one entity can buy 20% of?
      Selfish tax cuts…what a joke!

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.1

        lol Morgy the issue is quite simple, the already rich are getting richer and the poor are struggling even more.
        It’s not brain surgery yeah?

      • Draco T Bastard 16.1.2

        that loathsome idea of giving us the opporutnity to buy a part of our SOE’s?

        We already own them and get the advantages of that ownership. Selling them will give those advantages to overseas owners as the Treasury report says (it’s one of the few times that treasury actually gets it right).

      • Jum 16.1.3

        Not only did I think you were stupid Morgy, but you’ve just proved it.
        Buy back our own assets?  Duh.  I think that is the problem with New Zealanders.  They are essentially bright, clued up people, but when the government tells them they can buy their own assets, again, in fact probably for the hundredth time, they naturally start to think they’re missing some vital economic fact.
        Well, no, they’re not.  They’re just admitting they don’t have a cynic gene.  They have an overload of trust and naive genes.  They actually trust Key – now that is dumb.   So, I’ll have to revise my attitude towards people; they are bright, clued up, but they’re trusting and naive and blind.

        • Morgy

          Jum, I have shares in Australian interests. This decision has made me (and I suggest many others) consider bringing the value of these back into NZ firms and I will look forward to the dividend cheques.
          Based on your reply mate, you must live with a permanent furrowed brow….take a breather…..not all of us are cynics……greater than 55% of the voting public at last count.

          • Colonial Viper

            Jum, I have shares in Australian interests. This decision has made me (and I suggest many others) consider bringing the value of these back into NZ firms and I will look forward to the dividend cheques.

            Hey so when will you have enough share dividends to offset the $2.5T that Australian banks repatriate to their homeland across the Tasman Sea?
            Or maybe in reality the cash outflow from NZ to Australia outweighs any pittances you bring back over.
            I’ll give you another thimble, and you can keep bailing out the Titanic with it, OK?

            …..not all of us are cynics……greater than 55% of the voting public at last count.

            55% of the voting public earn less than $30,000 p.a.

            I’d say frak all of them have shares in Australian companies. You are in a small minority my friend, even though you make out like you are the majority.

            • PeteG

              I’d say frak all of them have shares in Australian companies. You are in a small minority my friend, even though you make out like you are the majority.

              I’d say there are probably more than you think who have interests in Australia companies. Apart from individual investors, Fonterra’s 10,000+ shareholders own several Australian companies, and other New Zealand owned companies will have Aussie interests. There will be a lot more small investors with unit trusts, and a large number of KiwiSavers are likely to have something in Aus.
              It may not be a majority (impossible to know) but it certainly won’t be a small minority.

          • Jum

            I’m not your mate; I’d rather slit my wrists than buy into the crap you rightwingers are spreading.  How do you live with yourselves, you hollow men?
            Well, well, the vultures are coming back to NZ to steal what’s left of our treasures; kiwi-slavers like roger the cur, fay richwhite brierley, the extended nzbusrotundtable -that excitement will surely get them out of their gold-plated wheelchairs to slaver and spit over the remains after the hotchin types have finished.  But sitting there in first place, with the positioning to get the inside track shall we say will be John Key and Steven Joyce covering their eyes, except for that little gap in their fingers where they can see through their blind trusts.
            Yet, you’re probably right, morgy – 55% of New Zealanders who believe what the papers and the talk backs tell them, lies and more lies about the state of the country’s books will find out on the 27th November that they have new masters, neither National nor Labour but TPPA transnationals.

  17. randal 17

    no morgy.
    I voided and you are it.

  18. randal 18

    and morgy I just read your last mishmash of nonsense assertions and all I can say is a fool like you can ask more questions than a wise man can answer.

  19. Morgy 19

    But all I see is blame but no solutions Randal. What is the answer??

    Draco T Bastard 12.4

    Do you really think he is looking to lock in that differential?
    Tax cuts for the rich
    Tax increases for the poor
    Removal of work rights
    Throwing lots of people into unemployment
    This is the sort of shit that comes from the left blogs? I guess I will never understand the way you see things….and vica versa eh? I would love to see ideas….I am not for one second saying that National has all the answers too by the way….it’s the Labour good and National bad philosphy that is dumbfounding. It’s an ugly cycle that is obviously difficult to break eh?

    • PeteG 19.1

      While the likes of DTB and CV have their slogans off pat they have their logic out of whack.
      Forcing the poor majority into unemployed poverty is not good for business. The more money people have the more they will waste on stuff they don’t need.

      • Draco T Bastard 19.1.1

        You’re illogical posts prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you wouldn’t know logic if it hit you.

    • Draco T Bastard 19.2

      No, that’s the sort of shit that comes from a National government.

  20. RobC 20

    Pete, you handing out advice about being logical is akin to Brownlee handing out advice on healthy eating.

    • Jum 20.1

      Yeah, RobC.
      I’ll be looking for a piece of Brownlee if times get tough.  And it won’t be to have a word.

  21. HC 21

    Who says Bill English has “no ambition for New Zealand”?
    I think the man has very great ambitions to head this country into the extreme “right” direction, which will force 80 or more per cent of the population into living standards that will be equal with our neighbours in the South Pacific (e.g. Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and so forth).
    As long as the “creme de la creme” of his elitist slice of the population can maintain their perks and privileges, he is not worried, is he?
    Never mind the 80 % of lazy “lay abouts” and dole spongers. Get them working until their hands bleed!
    It is so clear to see that this man has immense ambitions for him and the top 10 to 20 % of our population. Or would you perhaps doubt this???

  22. Pascal's bookie 22

    I see English’s defenders are all ‘look at the transcript’ and ‘ooh what about the context’

    Fair enough. The context; she is important.

    The context of that transcript is that English was trying to explain what he had originally said. That transcript wasn’t the initial comment; it was the fall back position for the general public.

    The initial comments are reported here:


    “The fundamental competition is for capital, including Australian capital, he said, and over the next few years New Zealand’s advantages would become more apparent.
    “One is the wage differential. We have a workforce that is better educated, just as productive and 30 per cent cheaper,” he said. Another is a better regulatory environment.
    “While Australia had the better approach, consistent and steady reform over time, it stopped 10 years ago,” English said.”They were better at it. Now they are not, while we are getting better at it.”

    Which is pretty straightforward. He says that our advantages, which will become more apparent over the next few years, are a better regulatory environment and low wages. That regulatory environment, one could easily enough conclude, is better because it produces the other.

    • Herodotus 22.1

      And some believe that we are a 1st World economy !!!
      Low wages what do people think.
      At least Bill was being honest, look at Taiwan, India, china etc all built on what we have now … Cheap Labour force

  23. mikesh 23

    Is it a coincidence that English adopted this line of argument shortly after a visit by Julia Gillard. Does anyone think that she may have suggested it?

  24. Steve Withers 24

    Morgy: WFF is targeted tax rebates for families. In effect, tax cuts. But they need to be overseen by a body that can ensure people aren’t cheating and claiming entitlement they ought not to. It isn’t “welfare”. When that programme was begun, we had HUGE surpluses…and Michael Cullen warned there would be rainy days ahead and we should be prudent. 

    As it happens, I agreed with him on at least that, as I could see the 2008 crash coming well ahead of time….as could any person not bound into the myth-making machine that caused it in the first place. I knew a crash was inevitable from about 2003….but wasn’t sure when. As events wound on, I could see in mid-2007 if was about a year away. By April ’08 it was obviously going to be pretty much any day…..as I sold my farm on April 22nd ’08 to cash up and avoid it.  

    Why National couldn’t see the crash coming and instead crowed for tax cuts year after year as the storm clouds were *obviously* gathering………is just one more indication they aren’t objective, prudent….or competent.

    Now we’ve had the crash…and two major earthquakes…and the fiscal consequences of National’s lack of prudence is staringly obvious to anyone with a functioning pair of eyes. They cut taxes *anyway* after the Crash…..and now blame everyone but themselves for the exploding deficit. So people who are blameless are losing their jobs because National lacks foresight, good judgement and prudence.

    Sorry. I can’t support such obviously incompetent people…and they don’t listen. They are are business repeating the same mistakes they made in the 90s. How dumb is that? Pretty dumb.

    • PeteG 24.1

      Steve, when Cullen announced tax cuts in May 2008 did that indicate he was objective, prudent….or competent? Or did he not see the crash coming either, did he not see the “storm clouds were *obviously* gathering”?

      • Pascal's bookie 24.1.1

        Storm clouds were all done with the gathering at that point Pete, they were up to the ‘bursting all over everything’ part.

  25. Jum 25

    Hope you all are ready and angry enough to join me in the streets of New Zealand in a few months time to take our evidence of NActMU’s betrayal of New Zealand to the public’s attention.
    I am beginning to see what is actually happening.  The initial disbelief at the brazen contradictory statements and actions of NAct have been replaced by the simple fact that when we go to the polls on November 26 this government will have already done the deals that make it impossible to turn this country back to a proud and desirable place with an enviable lifestyle for all New Zealanders.

  26. RobM 26

    Where the bloody hell are you Australian multi-nationals?

    You don’t know how fortunate are the circumstances:

    We’ve got low wages, low skills, expensive broadband, insanely great fuel costs and a bunch of friendly SOEs that we can guarantee to gouge you in the electricity department. 

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      Where the bloody hell are you Australian multi-nationals?

      Apparently being a piss poor country full of badly paid wage serfs isn’t that much of an actual business advantage, unlike what Bill English thinks.
      More seriously, the multinationals are only interested in treating NZ like a mine to be exploited, and a low class market to be dumped on.

  27. I now expect the John Key and his favoured few to come out and ask the workers of New Zealand to accept low wages to get New Zealand businesses up and running, if this sounds familiar, it is, it’s the same line Ruthless Ruth used on the NZ public back in the 90s, she promised the workers they would be compensated once business could afford it.

    Back then the workers were gullible enough to believe the line because they wanted NZ to do well .

    Workers went without wage rises for four years and then when the workers said “it’s our time now, we want wage rises” they were told by the government it was nothing to do with them it was up to employers, employers said “if we give wage rises we loose our investment capital” so there was no wage rises for the worker, surprise surprise.

    Do we have another National governing party in the process of doing the same thing all over again, the question will be, will the worker fall for it again this time.

    Vote National at your peril.

  28. Frank Macskasy 28

    “GUYON But is that true? Your own Treasury says, and I quote, in the paper that you requested on this issue, ‘There is no clear evidence to suggest that financial performance of the SOE companies is better or worse than private-sector comparables.’ It says, ‘There’s little evidence to suggest that privatisation would significantly improve the financial performance of many of the SOE companies.’

    BILL Well, we simply don’t agree necessarily with Treasury on that, and we have a number of—

    GUYON But Treasury aren’t exactly left-wing sort of hand-wringers on this, are they?

    BILL Well, they’ve had no experience of these kind of asset sales now for 10 or 15 years, so it’s not something they’ve dealt with.

    GUYON Where are you taking advice from? Is it just you and a few other Cabinet ministers? I mean, if Treasury don’t even believe, and they say there will be ‘modest economic gains’, where has your evidence come from?

    BILL Well, we are of the view that the model, like Air New Zealand, has worked very well – mixed ownership where a combination of market pressure, an arm’s-length relationship with government has allowed that company to go through considerable changes and achieve what’s very difficult to achieve anywhere in the world, and that is be a successful regional airline. So we’re more convinced than Treasury that we’ll get better performance out of those companies, but we have other objectives as well, which are to provide some kind of investment opportunities that New Zealanders think would be useful for them, particularly longer term solid investments after all the negative experiences that they’ve had.”
    We watched that interview on Sunday night and simply couldn’t believe what we were witnessing!!

  29. Frank Macskasy 29

    From Radio New Zealand today;
    Telnet, the largest privately-owned call centre in this country, says the wage gap with Australia and the low New Zealand dollar have created an opportunity for businesses here to build their market share.
    Finance Minister Bill English said on Friday that 30% lower wages help give New Zealand a competitive advantage over Australia.
    Telnet chief executive John Chetwynd says the gap has greatly benefited his company.
    He told Morning Report that while the situation is likely to be temporary, New Zealand companies should take advantage of it and grow their business.
    Mr Chetwynd said he pays his employees about 25% more than the minimum wage.” – http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/business/72724/low-wages-seen-as-opportunity-to-build-market-share-call-centre
    John Chetwynd says the situation is likely to be temporary, New Zealand companies should take advantage of it” – until, of course wages rise, and then Call Centres will (again) relocate off-shore to places like India, Philippines, etc.

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    Pacific businesses will get a much-needed financial boost as they recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the new Pacific Aotearoa Regional Enterprise Fund, said Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.  The new $2 million fund will co-invest in Pacific business projects and initiatives to create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago