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Open Mike 17/12/2016

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 17th, 2016 - 164 comments
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164 comments on “Open Mike 17/12/2016 ”

  1. The Chairman 1

    Should beneficiaries be given a Christmas bonus (a one off double payment) to help them through Christmas?

    • Cinny 1.1

      It’s a thoughtful idea Chairman, but I’d suggest a grocery voucher (no smokes or booze allowed) and credit on the power bill instead. That would still leave a bit extra in the pocket, full cupboards and power sorted.

      • JanM 1.1.1

        Careful, Cinny, that sounds a bit as though you are looking through a deficit lens. These are adults you are discussing, not ‘naughty children’.

        • greywarshark

          There is a need to keep a clear head when doing something of a helpful nature for people in need. It is NOT unreasonable to take measures to ensure that people use the help in the most effective way to aid themselves and ease their lives, and those of who are dependent on them.

          We know that we can all be tempted to do things which are not the best steps we should take, or use opportunities well. Cinny is just being realistic and you are using PC cant and not understanding people’s basic drives at all.

          • Draco T Bastard

            We know that we can all be tempted to do things which are not the best steps we should take, or use opportunities well.

            And sometimes, for their health, people need to let their hair down. Such a double payment would, as far as I’m concerned, be for that precise purpose.

            • jcuknz

              Is that not what Muldoon did some years/decades back ?
              I would also suggest that it only applied to those simply on the Benefit/super and not to people with secondary pensions.

          • Observer Tokoroa

            . Hi Greywarshark

            . You are so patronising and dismissive towards JanM. It is true that not everyone is as wise as you, or as wise as Cinny.

            But among the people you are despising by saying what they shall eat and drink, will be many who excel way and above you. Now and in the future.

            • greywarshark

              Observer Tokoroa
              I thought that Jan M was patronising actually and now you. You are so much, that you can’t learn anything from someone who knows stuff and who has thought about that stuff.

              The trouble with people like yourself is that you are too rigid, first you want people to have the greatest freedom with what you hand out. Then others who truly despise the struggling classes feel free to step in and say how useless the poor are because they didn’t use the help in the way that the rigid expect.

              People often get quite despairing and give up trying to follow rules when they are hard up and live from day to day. They may become alcoholic which will soak up every dollar they are given, or spend extra funds at Christmas time on expensive toys that soon get broken, leaving not much left for afterwards.

              An example – I believe in Glasgow the drinking men there had priorities for money – food, alcohol, gas or electricity, shoes, then rent. And the greatest of these is alcohol. But in NZ today as well, there will be credit card payments etc.

              Don’t be so snotty some of you wet charity givers. When you want to do good, think around the problem just not chant slogans about freedom and the nobility and wisdom of adults. Everyone can fall into temptation of overspending, the housing and credit bubble is affecting the supposedly wealthy.

              Why should those at the bottom with few comforts and kind consideration from the government re living wages, decent social hours etc etc – why I ask should they automatically direct their extra money where it needs to be, what about some fun for a change? Many of them would just buy a dozen of beer and fish and chips and have some fun for a change. Which is okay but something has to be held back for the other important things. And both partners in a family would need to show restraint also, something not always seen in domestic violence unhappy valley NZ.

              In other words, people who haven’t had spare money for a while need to receive help with thought. Even Lotto winners of millions need help in controlling their spending – in a couple of years people can be back to hard times.

              • Rosemary McDonald

                “In other words, people who haven’t had spare money for a while need to receive help with thought. ”

                Totally agree.

                And it does not undermine the leftie narrative…empowering people to be sensible and very, very careful with what they have. Encouraging people to think ahead is a good thing.

                Teaching people budgeting skills is a good thing…and if you want proof of this from a leftie viewpoint…look what our right wing government did to those who need this help during these very, very tight times….


                • JanM

                  It does undermine the ‘leftie narrative’ actually. The whole concept of keeping a poorly paid ‘underclass’ to whom the wealthy can hand out charity as they see fit is a very right wing narrative

                  • Rosemary McDonald

                    “It does undermine the ‘leftie narrative’ actually.”

                    Which bit?
                    ’empowering people to be sensible and very, very careful with what they have’, or ‘Encouraging people to think ahead is a good thing.’

                    Or, ‘Teaching people budgeting skills is a good thing.’ ???

                    • weka

                      Except the state is made up of organisations that are most definitely not using an empowerment model. You know this from your experiences with Health and WINZ. And in the context of that, treating all beneficiaries as people incapable of making the best decisions for themselves, is at the least buying into the RW narrative JanM is talking about.

                      Trying to teach people budgeting skills when they don’t have enough income to live on is dehumanising, patronising and in the end a mindfuck where the people enforcing the teaching are the same people who made sure those people didn’t have enough to live on in the first place. Under those conditions if some beneficiaries want to blow their mythical Christmas bonus on beer or cigarettes or whatever else gives them some temporary relief, then let them, because the solutions to their problems and in fact society’s problems are not to be found in do-gooder classism.

                    • greywarshark

                      You contradict yourself, and also manage to support people in need going on a total splurge which would end up with them feeling worse than they started with none of the money left to do something valuable to them.
                      Under those conditions if some beneficiaries want to blow their mythical Christmas bonus on beer or cigarettes or whatever else gives them some temporary relief, then let them,
                      Just go and binge is your answer is it? Instead what about a few bottles of beer, fish and chips and a visit to the $3 shop and op-shops and get max benefit. Is that a stupid, mean idea. Trying to ensure that they get a range of value from the one payment is nasty do-gooder classism is it?

                      Some of you people have no compassion or love for others, just slogans and social service teaching through tertiary training. A model to follow blindly. Also many people just offer charity with a bit of a sneer or have some PC filter that stops them seeing the reality of what the person actually both wants and needs.

                      You are getting mixed up with dissatisfaction of government policies in general with an example of practical help to particular people at a particular time.

                    • weka

                      You contradict yourself,

                      Where’s the contradiction?

                      and also manage to support people in need going on a total splurge which would end up with them feeling worse than they started with none of the money left to do something valuable to them.

                      Yes, I believe that beneficiaries have just as much right to self-medicate, make mistakes, fuck up, or make the best of a bad situation as anyone else.

                      You’re making an assumption that a splurge is always bad for someone. I disagree.

                      “Under those conditions if some beneficiaries want to blow their mythical Christmas bonus on beer or cigarettes or whatever else gives them some temporary relief, then let them,”

                      Just go and binge is your answer is it?

                      No, it’s my compassion. I’m not suggesting we mandate it.

                      Instead what about a few bottles of beer, fish and chips and a visit to the $3 shop and op-shops and get max benefit. Is that a stupid, mean idea.

                      How would the state make that happen?

                      Trying to ensure that they get a range of value from the one payment is nasty do-gooder classism is it?

                      No, treating all beneficiaries as the same, but separate from other NZers simply because they are reliant in welfare, and then controlling how they spend their money, in the guise of what is best for them, that’s the do-gooder classism.

                      Some of you people have no compassion or love for others, just slogans and social service teaching through tertiary training. A model to follow blindly.

                      ‘you people’? My PhD is in welfare, and no, I’ve never been to uni, and many of my peers have been beneficiaries. I’m part of the underclass you are discussing.

                      Also many people just offer charity with a bit of a sneer or have some PC filter that stops them seeing the reality of what the person actually both wants and needs.

                      How about an opt-in option then. Beneficiaries choose whether they get their Christmas bonus as cash in the bank or a voucher.

                      You are getting mixed up with dissatisfaction of government policies in general with an example of practical help to particular people at a particular time.

                      No I’m not. My comments are all in response to the idea that the govt should pay via a conditional voucher rather cash. If you are talking about individuals needing and wanting specialist or targeted help that’s a different thing.

                    • Cinny

                      Re teaching people budgeting skills

                      We should teach all the kids how to handle money/finance via the state education system, from say year five or six (stnd 3 & 4) onwards, building up skills for more complex understandings at high school.
                      Money is a fundamental part of life at the present, and so many are unable to handle it simply because they have not been given the skills, and it sucks. Just like how they push us out of the hospital with a new born and a lack of knowledge and then they wonder why some are having trouble copping.

                      I think as adults people can be more sensitive re money, deep down probably just embarrassed because they were not educated about it. But also maybe sensitive because no matter how they try they just can’t get ahead simply because housing cost is so high.

                      Financial care on the tv news every night, cut the sport segment in half lolz. Maybe that’s a way to teach the adults without financial knowledge, a how to segment sponsored by Kiwibank the bank our government uses (next government best ditch westpac for kiwibank, that move is long long over due) …

                      In summary of my big sidetracked novel lmao..

                      Grocery Voucher (possibly tax write off for WINZ), 2 week limit to spend it, automatically loaded on to their Community Services Card, because it is different in appearance from the current ‘green payment card’ checkout operators would be told that shoppers can buy whatever they like as long as it doesn’t require ID, such as booze etc.


                    • weka

                      There are special skills needed to live on an inadequate income, but the govt should not be the one to teach them (esp as they create the situation in the first place).

                      Grocery Voucher (possibly tax write off for WINZ), 2 week limit to spend it, automatically loaded on to their Community Services Card, because it is different in appearance from the current ‘green payment card’ checkout operators would be told that shoppers can buy whatever they like as long as it doesn’t require ID, such as booze etc.

                      Why should other NZs be allowed to spend their Christmas money on alcohol but not beneficiaries? Serious question.

                      Why the 2 week limit?

                • weka

                  “In other words, people who haven’t had spare money for a while need to receive help with thought. ”

                  Totally agree.

                  So make help available to those people then, if they want it. No need to treat all beneficiaries the same, or separate them off as a class because they are on welfare.

                  • Cinny

                    with a food voucher it’s usually a 3 day limit, 2 weeks is longer, maybe 4 would be better?

                    The money one would save from not having to buy food one could spend on booze or whatever they like.

                    Just brainstorming is all. Personally beneficary bashing disgusts me, what Paula did to those ladies now that just pure nasty.

                    TBH Drunk people gross me out, I’m not a boozer and have trouble understanding why everyone wants to get so wasted at christmas. Grow some herb it’s cheaper and the food becomes superb, no hang over, no aggression, no dramas, just be safe after all it is still illegal (the stupid it hurts it really does)

                    Anyways i’ve seen many things, but one of the worst is booze in the supermarket, if it wasn’t in the bloody supermarket or available to 18 yr old kids (thanks national for those laws, you dumb fucks – please excuse that outburst). It wouldn’t even be a stumbling block with the supermarket voucher idea.

                    Time for a change so much is broken.

                    • weka

                      Why have a time limit at all?

                      “TBH Drunk people gross me out, I’m not a boozer and have trouble understanding why everyone wants to get so wasted at christmas.”

                      Yeah, but do you get that the thing that was proposed (voucher bonuses), would stop a beneficiary from having a glass of wine on Christmas day? Why the assumption that they would get totalled?

                      And why target beneficiaries and not all poor people?

                  • Rosemary McDonald

                    “Yes, I believe that beneficiaries have just as much right to self-medicate, make mistakes, fuck up, or make the best of a bad situation as anyone else.”

                    Yes, but the outcomes of fuckups are soo much worse for those of us on very limited incomes.

                    And those who dole out that limited income to us do not care one tiny little bit if we fuck up. No amount of leftie one upmanship will change that.

                    And if it is not patently obvious that the government is determined to grind us to dust with their ‘welfare reforms’ and ‘social investment policies’ and ‘resilience building’…they care not for those who the system drives to despair or violence towards themselves or others. I can’t understand why more people don’t see this. This is war.

                    And since they don’t care…then we must. And one aspect of caring is sharing knowledge and experience about how to get through the really, really tough times…how to take another hit and suck it up…how to save the cents so they turn into dollars, how to derive joy and delight from free stuff…and if you get a few dollars extra…put it aside for the rent, the power, the food….because oh…the relief, of just being able to pay that one bill…

                    • weka

                      “Yes, I believe that beneficiaries have just as much right to self-medicate, make mistakes, fuck up, or make the best of a bad situation as anyone else.”

                      Yes, but the outcomes of fuckups are soo much worse for those of us on very limited incomes.

                      That’s true, but we’re not talking about people on very limited incomes, we’re talking about beneficiaries. Or you are suggesting that the govt apply this principle across the board to all people on low incomes?

                      And if it is not patently obvious that the government is determined to grind us to dust with their ‘welfare reforms’ and ‘social investment policies’ and ‘resilience building’…they care not for those who the system drives to despair or violence towards themselves or others. I can’t understand why more people don’t see this. This is war.

                      And since they don’t care…then we must. And one aspect of caring is sharing knowledge and experience about how to get through the really, really tough times…how to take another hit and suck it up…how to save the cents so they turn into dollars, how to derive joy and delight from free stuff…and if you get a few dollars extra…put it aside for the rent, the power, the food….because oh…the relief, of just being able to pay that one bill…

                      Of course (and I’m pretty sure those if us making the political argument against vouchers are well aware of the war). But the argument is centred around what the government should do, not what we can do, were the govt to give beneficiaries a Christmas bonus – give them cash or give them a conditional voucher.

                  • Rosemary McDonald

                    “Why should other NZs be allowed to spend their Christmas money on alcohol but not beneficiaries? Serious question.”

                    Because we beneficiaries need, really, really need to have our wits about us one hundred per cent of the time.

                    I’m serious…we are in midst of the fray, enemies are all around us and we must be vigilant. If we fall further…they will say its our fault.

                    I am not going to risk giving the bastards that pleasure.

                    (And also…its an awful lot of fun sitting back and watching pissed richer folk making arses of themselves.) 😉 🙂

                    • weka

                      “Because we beneficiaries need, really, really need to have our wits about us one hundred per cent of the time.”

                      Fuck, no pressure there then.

                      I appreciate what you are saying, and if that’s what works for you all power to you. I’m not going to lay that pressure on all beneficiaries though, and the only people responsible for the state of the country in this regard are the successive govts who implemented policies designed to make and keep people poor.

      • The Chairman 1.1.2

        A grocery voucher would also be helpful. But the stipulations they contain is a little condescending. How would you feel if your employer paid you in vouchers, limiting where and how your pay could be spent?

        • weka

          +1. It’s also the idea that beneficiaries shouldn’t spend their bonus on ‘luxuries’.

          • Whispering Kate

            I know of people with a food grant who have been questioned at the till by the nazi police (over important till operators) why they have kitchen/bathroom cleaners in their trolley and heaven forbid if you want some Vit.C to get you through the winter, also back to the hygiene products us females need on a monthly basis.

            • Cinny

              Whispering Kate, that really really blows, how horrible for the shopper going through that experience. I’d boycott said supermarket if they were do such things to people. Wankers. With that in mind i can see where you are coming from now.

              • Whispering Kate

                Even shampoo and deodorant have been questioned. I don’t know where the till workers get their instructions from but its pretty obvious that the vulnerable and poor are not permitted even a smidgeon of a half decent lifestyle, heaven forbid that they may enjoy even a bit of fun on special occasions. We have regressed back to the dark ages in this country and are far from a civil society, it has become de rigueur these days to bash people when they are down, the new “in” thing to do.

          • North

            To the grinch people……ever thought that an extra week of benefit might end up as Christmas presents for kids whom otherwise mightn’t get any ? FFS !

            • weka

              nailed it North.

              • JanM

                Thank you for grasping what I was saying and explaining it better – lots of well-meaning people seem hard-wired to believe that charity is a reasonable alternative to justice. They don’t see the awful power game inherent in it

            • Cinny

              so get the extra week as a grocery voucher/rent/mortgage payment, power credit you know the basics and spend the cash on the kids. More cash for the kids pressies crikey one could even buy some pressies at the supermarket

              Just brainstorming not pigeon holing

        • Craig H

          I would point out that paying wages in that manner is a breach of employment law.

          A voucher for a Christmas bonus/gift, on the other hand, is quite common, and perfectly legal.

          However, paying an extra $100 at Christmas would be easier than messing around with vouchers, so I’d suggest doing that anyway.

          • The Chairman

            I wasn’t implying wages should be paid in that way, I was merely suggesting they consider how condescending it would feel to be paid and limited in that way.

            While a voucher for a Christmas bonus/gift may be quite common, and perfectly legal, the condescending implications can reduce its shine. Not that it wouldn’t be helpful and better than nothing at all.

          • alwyn

            I worked for a company back in the 1980s that gave out vouchers upon the completion of a major project that had been finished on budget and on time. Most unusual for large scale computer systems
            We were told that if they gave us cash it would have to be declared as income and would be taxed. If the gave us vouchers it wouldn’t have to be declared and wasn’t taxable.
            I didn’t really see the difference but I assumed they knew what they were talking about.
            Is that still the case, at least for employees? Would benefit payments come into the same category?

            • Cinny

              Good question Alwyn i wonder if a voucher for a beneficiary would fall under the same category.

            • Ch_ch chiquita

              I don’t know about benefit payments, but as far as wages go, a cash bonus is taxable, where as a voucher, which can not be redeemed for cash, up to the amount of $300 per quarter is not taxable and no need for FBT either.

              • weka

                supplementary benefits and grants are non-taxable income irrespective of the amount, a bonus could be set up like that.

            • In Vino

              Respect, alwyn. You weren’t an egg this time.

        • Cinny

          True but that’s how they do it anyways at WINZ for a food grant. Monies is loaded onto a card, 3 days to spend it, must be spent where specified, the local supermarkets and not the local dairy etc.

          With the food paid for people could use the extra cash how they pleased

          • The Chairman

            @ Cinny

            Yes, they do. And it’s stigmatizing. We’ve all heard the stories (a number of which Whispering Kate highlighted above).

            Contrary to the right-wing narrative, due to their low incomes, beneficiaries are generally adept at budgeting and making ends meet. A number of budgeting advisors would tell you it’s inadequate income levels that is the real issue.

          • greywarshark

            Cinny you seem to be the constantly on the ball commenter here. From the rest it is just attack and how dare you apply some controls and rationality to extra payments to beneficiaries at Christmas. Or ignore the matter altogether and carry on about unfair government.

            This was the original comment:
            JanM 1.1.1
            17 December 2016 at 8:51 am
            Careful, Cinny, that sounds a bit as though you are looking through a deficit lens. These are adults you are discussing, not ‘naughty children’.

            Emotional stuff, critical of any attempt at thought. Any attempt at control of spending is an attack on good, noble people treated unkindly by an evil government. That’s it.

            As in most things there is an element of truth. If commenters spent time considering that when they write, there might be really useful things come out of the tons of words that pour onto the site. Unfortunately mostly no. What’s my element of truth here. Probably 70 for 30 against.

      • Sabine 1.1.3

        interesting that the first thing comes to your mind that a poor person would treat themselves to a pack of fags or a bottle of vino. Perish the thought, and oh my gosh, what will the good church ladies thing?

        So you would want to give the Christmas Bonus as a voucher or a credit on the power bill. great, so they use what ever benefit money they get to buy a pack of fags and a bottle of vine and maybe a gift for the kidlings.

        you solved what? nothing.

        but you got to play the narrative that people on a budget need budgeting help and would not possibly be sensible with their cash.

        Which, frankly is a load of bs. Most people on a budget are very very careful how to spend it and how to make it go as far as possible, cause frankly when they reached the end of it its gone.
        You also assume that people on low income/benefits don’t need pleasures in life but only the basic necessities to life cause poor. So no fags for mum, no beer for dad and no toys for kids.

        What was that, a bonus for Christmas? Ahh, fuck it. Lets just call it a ‘hand out’, and before you get it you must go to a seminar telling you how to be appropriately poor and meek. You know, just so they know how to be great full n shit.


    • Rosemary McDonald 1.2

      No. Christmas is a false construct of a rampant commercial/capitalist culture and should be eliminated.

      God botherers can do their thing if they like…but they should also give consideration to the teachings of their Christ…what he would have to say about how society demands we all celebrate his birth?

      I have no sympathy for foolish people who get sucked in by the Xmas hype…god, as a beneficiary I’d be even further up financial shit creek had I not have made the decision 40 plus years ago not to do Christmas.

      • The Chairman 1.2.1

        While Christmas is a false construct, it’s rather ingrained, thus some can’t easily escape it.

        It’s a hard one telling kids we don’t do Christmas while it’s marketed at and around them.

        And as it does tend to lead a number further up that financial shit creek, a one off extra payment would really help. Perhaps saving some from resorting to those high interest loan-sharks and mobile truck shops targeting the vulnerable.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “It’s a hard one telling kids we don’t do Christmas while it’s marketed at and around them.”

          yep…been there with three kids who went through the Catholic school system.

          Very hard, but like other lessons we are obliged as parents to teach, once learned gives a lifetime of reward. Teaches them critical thinking, skepticism, and a strong and abiding resistance to gross advertising.

          No, sorry Santa, I mean The Chairman, use those $$$ for some education programs on how to resist retail pressure and debt seduction.

          • The Chairman

            While advocating the benefits of not doing Christmas and advising others against getting sucked in may work for some, it doesn’t help those that can’t help but to be lured in.

            Moreover, it’s not like those on a benefit that can withdraw from Christmas can’t do with the extra payment.

          • Psycho Milt

            Must have been a laff riot at your place…

            • Rosemary McDonald

              Geez…are you completely incapable of imagining any other way of life other than your own?

              Go tell the 70% of the world’s religious who are not Christian how miserable their lives are.


              • I was just picturing the McDonald children being lectured on how they can’t have Christmas because it’s a false construct of a rampant commercial/capitalist culture.

                • Rosemary McDonald

                  Don’t know about your offspring PM, but mine were and still are quite capable of seeing the reason of it.

                  Change is hard….I know…

                  What really makes me laugh are those people who quite genuinely say to me…”Oh, you’re so lucky being able to not do Christmas, I wish I could do that!”

            • Draco T Bastard

              You can have a great time without succumbing to either the Christian BS or the crass overt commercialisation that it has turned into.

          • Cinny

            Love is the Answer Stop Buying Stuff 😀 This guy is for real, artist Matthew Silver, he is a genius, love his work.


            I guess in NZ christmas means summer holidays more than anything else, here we don’t buy into the commercial christmas, but the kids have a bit of fun learning new things making presents… go to the beach collect the shells and drift wood, come home make an outside wind chime for the grandparents for Christmas. Everyone is happy not one cent spent.

            We love the summer solstice

            • Rosemary McDonald

              “We love the summer solstice”

              21st December…harvest elephant garlic. 🙂

        • Draco T Bastard

          It’s a hard one telling kids we don’t do Christmas while it’s marketed at and around them.

          Wouldn’t that then be the marketers enforcing their views upon you and yours against your will? Should they really have the right to do that?

          I don’t that they should.

      • james 1.2.2

        “No. Christmas is a false construct of a rampant commercial/capitalist culture and should be eliminated”.

        Well said Comrade.

        We must eliminate Christmas. While we are at it we will destroy Good Friday and Easter Monday as well.

        I feel for you – because it seems you are extremely bitter about a lot of things.

        Lighten up – It dosnt need to cost much, and can be done without all the god bothering (as you put it).

        Just enjoy some summer time with days off (for those of us who work) to spend with family and friends.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I feel for you – because it seems you are extremely bitter about a lot of things.

          Why is it that you think that people who don’t believe in delusional BS are bitter about anything?

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “…destroy Good Friday and Easter Monday as well.”

          Now you’re talking!

          And thanks for the ‘feelings’. Wasted, but the thought was there!

        • halfcrown

          “We must eliminate Christmas. While we are at it we will destroy Good Friday and Easter Monday as well.”

          As far as I can see James no one has mentioned eliminating any of these Christian festivals, what they are saying is, we don’t get sucked in by the crass commercial bullshit that goes with it. I cannot see anything bitter about that, in fact, no doubt it is better than feeling bitter in Feb when all the credit card bills arrive.

          What is worshipped today is consumerism not Christianity and the new Cathedrals are the shopping malls, playing stupid Christmas songs and carols at this time of year to give the punters a “good” feeling to help to relieve them of their cash or to give the credit card another thrash.
          I have never “celebrated” Christmas as such, but it does not stop the family having a good get together with friends at the end of the year. We enjoy ourselves and best of all come Feb we know that we will not receive any large credit bills.
          Agree with Rosemary 200%.

      • Foreign waka 1.2.3

        Rosemary, Christmas – is actually a counterweight to all the hate and war as it proclaims love and peace to all. This has less to do with commercialism that was invented in the 50’s with a Coka Cola’s Santa Claus.
        Christmas – is a word combining “Christ” as in the son of god and “mes” as in mass at church celebrates hope for those who are actually the poorest.
        Unfortunately, a fat man in a red suit, a new Pagan culture has taken over the meaning and given it a make over.
        The western countries worshiping only one god and it isn’t one in any gospel, have adopted this religious celebration and made it a commercial juggernaut.
        I personally don’t participate in the stampede to the shopping centers but I do support the idea that this time of the year should make us stop for once and start thinking about our neighbors, families and relatives. Making sure that no one has to feel excluded and everybody has food and shelter.

        • garibaldi

          Don’t forget it was the Chritsians who took over equinox celebrations and planted their story in its place.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          I support the idea that basics like a home, food, power, clothing and a decent education should be available to all, all year round.

          And we should all want these things for all, all year round.

          In case it isn’t obvious…I really, really hate the whole christmas hypocrisy thing…why can’t we hold those aspirations foremost in our hearts and minds ALL the time?

          god, I feel a carole coming on….

    • Siobhan 1.3

      Maybe it’s time to just bring benefit levels up to a livable level with the same increases that Super has enjoyed over the years… and ‘let’ beneficiaries manage their own Christmas spending.

    • Foreign waka 1.4

      YES. I belief it would be one way of supporting those who have the least being able to participate and have especially children feeling included.

  2. Nick 2

    Politicians get fat bonuses, so why not…..

    • The Chairman 2.1

      Not only would it be widely appreciated and helpful for beneficiaries, but as with increasing benefits, it would be a great PR move for a National Party.

    • alwyn 2.2

      Pray tell us.
      What are these “fat bonuses” you talk about?
      I presume they are things that are not documented in the pay and allowances that the MPs get.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1

        Politicians have been granted a 2.49 per cent pay rise, back dated to July.

        Yes, I know it’s not listed as a bonus but it’s certainly going to come across as that as it’s going to be a rather large lump sum just in time for Xmas.

        • alwyn

          No it isn’t a “fat bonus”.
          That is not to say that I don’t think many politicians are not overpaid. Back when I was younger I believe that an MP earned about as much as a teacher with something called a “position of responsibility. Councillors got almost nothing.
          Now they all make long term careers of it and have to be dragged out kicking and screaming because it is more money that many of them could ever earn.

          Notwithstanding a pay increase cannot be classed as a bonus. For one thing it isn’t even a one-off. It goes on and on forever.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Notwithstanding a pay increase cannot be classed as a bonus.

            I did say that but, IMO, the backdating to July will act as one. It’s not as if politicians salaries can’t be planned in line with the new financial year.

    • james 2.3

      citation please – I doubt what you are saying is true.

  3. Paul 3

    There’s more propaganda than news coming out of Aleppo this week.

    Patrick Cockburn
    Winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize 2005
    Winner of the James Cameron Prize 2006
    Winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009
    Foreign Commentator of the Year (Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards 2013)
    Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year (British Journalism Awards 2014)
    Foreign Reporter of the Year (The Press Awards For 2014).

    There was a period in 2011 and 2012 when there were genuinely independent opposition activists operating inside Syria, but as the jihadis took over these brave people were forced to flee abroad, fell silent or were dead.

    It has just become more dangerous to be a foreign correspondent reporting on the civil war in Syria. This is because the jihadis holding power in east Aleppo were able to exclude Western journalists, who would be abducted and very likely killed if they went there, and replace them as news sources with highly partisan “local activists” who cannot escape being under jihadi control.

    The foreign media has allowed – through naivety or self-interest – people who could only operate with the permission of al-Qaeda-type groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham to dominate the news agenda.

    The precedent set in Aleppo means that participants in any future conflict will have an interest in deterring foreign journalists who might report objectively. By kidnapping and killing them, it is easy to create a vacuum of information that is in great demand and will, in future, be supplied by informants sympathetic to or at the mercy of the very same people (in this case the jihadi rulers of east Aleppo) who have kept out the foreign journalists. Killing or abducting the latter turns out to have been a smart move by the jihadis because it enabled them to establish substantial control of news reaching the outside world. This is bad news for any independent journalist entering their territory and threatening their monopoly of information.

    There was always a glaring contradiction at the heart of the position of the international media: on the one hand it was impossibly dangerous for foreign journalists to enter opposition-held areas of Syria, but at the same time independent activists were apparently allowed to operate freely by some of the most violent and merciless movements on earth. The threat to Western reporters was very real: James Foley had been ritually beheaded on 8 August 2014 and Steven Sotloff a few days later, though long before then foreign journalists who entered insurgent-controlled zones were in great danger.

    But the threat was just as great for a local persons living under insurgent rule who criticised their actions or ideas. This is made clear by an Amnesty International report published in July this year entitled Torture Was My Punishment. Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme of Amnesty International, says that in these areas civilians “live in constant fear of being abducted if they criticise the conduct of armed groups in power or fail to abide by the strict rules some have imposed”.

    Any genuinely independent journalists or activists are targeted, according to the report. Speaking of Jabhat al-Nusra (which has renamed itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and was formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), a 24-year-old media activist called “Issa” said “they are in control of what we can and cannot say. You either agree with their social rules and policies or you disappear.”

    “Ibrahim” who in 2015 organised a peaceful protest in support of the 2011 uprising. Such independent action was evidently unacceptable to Nusra who kidnapped him. He says: “I was taken to the torture room. They placed me in the shabeh position, hanging me from the ceiling from my wrists so that my toes were off the ground. Then they started beating me with cables all over my body… after the shabeh they used the dulab (tyre) technique. They folded my body and forced me to go inside a tyre and then started beating me with wooden sticks.”

    Bassel, a lawyer in Idlib, said: “I was happy to be free from the Syrian government’s unjust rule, but now the situation is worse.” He criticised Nusra on Facebook and was immediately detained. Amnesty says the main armed opposition groups are equally severe on anybody differing from them.

    There was a period in 2011 and 2012 when there were genuinely independent opposition activists operating inside Syria, but as the jihadis took over these brave people were forced to flee abroad, fell silent or were dead. In August 2013, I appeared on the same television programme as Razan Zaitouneh, a renowned human rights lawyer and founder of the Violations Documentation Centre which recorded crimes and atrocities. She was speaking by Skype from the opposition stronghold of Douma in north east Damascus where I had been the previous year, but it had become too risky for me to visit.

    Zaitouneh was describing the sarin poison gas attack that had killed so many people in rebel-held districts of Damascus and denouncing the Syrian government for carrying it out. She was an advocate for the non-jihadi Syrian opposition, but she also criticised the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam movement that controlled Douma. On 8 December, its gunmen broke into her office and seized her and her husband Wael Hamada, and two civil rights activists: Samira al-Khalili, a lawyer, and Nazem al-Hamadi, a poet. None of the four have been seen since and are very likely dead.

    It was convenient for the international media to broadcast the videos and Skype interviews from east Aleppo as if they had been given as freely as in Copenhagen or Edinburgh. To do otherwise would have damaged the credibility of the graphic and compelling material in which the speakers looked frightened, and with good reason, and there was the crackle of gunfire and the boom of exploding shells.

    None of this was necessarily fake – but there were many omissions. There was no sign of the 8,000 to 10,000 armed fighters whom the UN estimated to have been in east Aleppo. In fact, I cannot recall seeing anybody with a gun or manning a fortified position in these heart-rending films. The only visible inhabitants of Aleppo are unarmed civilians, in complete contrast to Mosul where the Iraqi armed forces are battling thousands of Isis gunmen who are using the civilian population as human shields.

    It would be simple-minded to believe that this very appealing and professional PR for the Syrian armed opposition is all their own work. Foreign governments play a fairly open role in funding and training opposition media specialists. One journalist of partly Syrian extraction in Beirut told me how he had been offered $17,000 a month to work for just such an opposition media PR project backed by the British government.

    The dominance of propaganda over news in coverage of the war in Syria has many negative consequences. It is a genuine civil war and the exclusive focus of on the atrocities committed by the Syrian armed forces on an unarmed civilian population gives a skewed picture of what is happening. These atrocities are often true and the UN says that 82 civilians may have been summarily executed in east Aleppo last month. But, bad though this is, it is a gross exaggeration to compare what has happened in Aleppo to genocide in Rwanda in 1994 or the massacre in Srebrenica the following year.

    There is nothing wrong or surprising about the Syrian opposition demonising its enemies and hiding negative news about itself. The Iraqi opposition did the same thing in 2003 and the Libyan opposition in 2011. What is much more culpable is the way in which the Western media has allowed itself to become a conduit for propaganda for one side in this savage conflict. They have done so by rebranding it as authentic partisan information they cannot check, produced by people living under the authority of jihadi movements that tortures or kills any critic or dissenter.

    News organisations have ended up being spoon-fed by jihadis and their sympathisers who make it impossible for independent observers to visit areas they control. By regurgitating information from such tainted sources, the media gives al-Qaeda type groups every incentive to go on killing and abducting journalists in order to create and benefit from a news vacuum they can fill themselves.

    • There’s more propaganda than news coming out of Aleppo this week.

      Apparently so.

      There was a period in 2011 and 2012 when there were genuinely independent opposition activists operating inside Syria, but as the jihadis took over these brave people were forced to flee abroad, fell silent or were dead.

      Oh, they had to flee or die because “jihadis.” And here was me thinking it was because of all that killing and torturing the Assad regime started on when faced with “genuinely independent opposition activists.” It does seem odd though that “jihadis” only started taking over after Assad had made it more than your life’s worth to be a democracy enthusiast.

      It is a genuine civil war and the exclusive focus of on the atrocities committed by the Syrian armed forces on an unarmed civilian population gives a skewed picture of what is happening.

      True, the western media isn’t getting any coverage of rebel atrocities, for the reasons Cockburn mentions. On the other hand, the jihadi groups carrying out atrocities aren’t claiming to be legitimate governments that should get to turn up at the UN and be treated as though they aren’t actually just a gang of murderers. Nor have they turned Aleppo into the most-destroyed city since Grozny (also a Russian special). The media focus would be on Assad and his Iranian and Russian patrons regardless of whether western media could cover jihadi atrocities or not.

      • Paul 3.1.1

        Cockburn has much stronger credentials to comment on the situation in Syria than you.
        Please explain your where your insights on the Middle East come from?
        Y ears of experienceas an independent journalist ?
        A PhD in modern Middle East politics?

        Please explain the authority upon which you can dismiss Cockburn’s views with such assurance.

        I sense readers of the Standard are reading your strong opinionated view supported by no actual substance.

        And please today.
        Express your view without recourse to aggro.

  4. Paul 4

    New Zealand is becoming increasingly the country of the haves and have nots.
    Extreme inequality – John Key’s legacy.

    Is Waiheke the new Hamptons?

    And there is a special breed of summer visitors: the super-wealthy who have built palaces that are left unoccupied for much of the year and who fly in – often literally, by plane to Mangere and then by helicopter to Waiheke – for a few weeks at the height of summer. There’s an undertone of disapproval – how wasteful! – when this phenomenon is discussed. But really it’s not that different from the usage pattern of the traditional Kiwi fibro bach: occupied for a few weeks at Christmas and left empty – and probably, back in the day, unlocked – the rest of the time.

    But you can expect more super-wealthy to invade any time now. “For people with really phenomenal wealth, and I’m talking, by and large, not New Zealanders, this is a very attractive place and, post-Trump, becoming even more attractive,” says Hawkesby. “There are quite a few non-New Zealanders with substantial properties, but when they come into the village they wear Jandals, shorts and a T-shirt. They’re not coming in white linen. They sneak in, sneak out and don’t want to make a fuss. It’s not the Hamptons in that respect.”

    Nigel Latta made a programme on this

    The new haves and have nots

    I grew up believing that this was a country where everyone had a fair shot. I believed that if you got an education, and you worked hard, then you had just as much chance of getting ahead as anyone.
    After making this programme I’ve come to realise that I was wrong—the world I grew up in has gone, and it’s been replaced with a new set of rules.
    The thing is that we were all promised if we played by those rules—and suffered through those first few years of really hard times—then the fruits of the new economy would eventually begin to trickle down, and things would steadily improve for us all.
    Three decades on, I wanted to find out if those promises have been kept.
    Do you feel like you’ve had a fair share of the economic gains of the last thirty years? Does it feel like the ‘trickle down’ has got all the way down to you yet? Are things getting easier, or are they just getting harder?
    This isn’t a documentary about other people’s lives… it’s about your life, and your children’s lives.

    • Wayne 4.1


      Nigel Latta (and possibly yourself) may well believe that 1970’s New Zealand was nirvana. I do not.

      The changes of 1984 to 1992 were essential. New Zealand is much better for them. Yes there are more wealthy people, but overall New Zealand is better off. In fact income inequality has reduced in the last little while, and income distribution has been essentially the same for the last 25 years.

      If the Left want to campaign for a modernised form of the 1970’s; fine. It would mean top taxes of 60%, govt spending of 40% of GDP, a much more extensive welfare state, and a much more regulated economy.

      National is happy to have that contest. It will basically campaign on the economy as it is now. It will be a contest of freedom versus regulation

      However, it is clear that Bill English will adjust current settings, but not in a radical way. Some more social spending (using the surpluses), but no increase in taxes, continuing to push for a more open trading economy (FTA’s), and I expect more focus on innovation.

      • Carolyn_nth 4.1.1

        The most noticeable income inequality is the comparison between the top and bottom deciles.

        Wealth inequality is more of a problem. Income inequality feeds into it, but wealth inequality is harder to turn back. In NZ, Auckland particularly, there’s a noticeable difference between property owners and renters. Bernard Hickey recently wrote about how renters went backwards during the last 8 years, while property owners watched the value of their properties increase.

        Some stats:

        Stats NZ graph on income inequality 1982-2014

        It went down during the Clark govt, and rose for most of the subsequent years to 2014.

        An explanation from the inequality.or.nz site:

        Understanding inequality

        In New Zealand, income (and probably wealth) was being shared out more and more evenly from the 1950s up until the 1980s – but for the next two decades we had the developed world’s biggest increase in income inequality.

        s the graph (at left) shows, in that time, the average income of someone in the richest 1% has doubled, from just under $200,000 to nearly $400,000 (adjusting for inflation). In contrast, the average disposable income for someone in the poorest 10% is only slightly higher than it was in the 1980s. (More details and the source of this graph can be found in Wealth and New Zealand, published by BWB.) That means many New Zealanders struggle to pay their bills and lead a decent life.

        And in Auckland the numbers of people struggling, homeless, etc has noticeably risen in the last 8 years.

        Nothing to be complacent about – everything to be concerned about . Needs more than some clever tweaking.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Everything that we see shows how capitalism brings about the worst possible outcomes for society.

        • Wayne


          You are correct about wealth inequality (which as you note is different to income inequality). With rapidly increasing property prices wealth inequality has opened up, especially between renters and owners.

          There are really the only two ways to change that.

          The first is to increase housing supply which will flatten price increases, and may even reduce values a bit. The increase in supply seems to be happening, although it has taken some time to come through.

          The second is to make it easier for first home buyers, especially those on lower incomes, to get into their first house. My solution would be a govt guarantee of interest rates for the first five years of the mortgage. For the lowest incomes, a guaranteed interest rate of 3% and for low to middle incomes 5%. The mortgages would still be bank mortgages, with the guarantee effectively being a payment to the bank of the difference between market interest rates ,and the guaranteed rate.

          • The Chairman

            Without addressing the demand side (in fact, if successful your suggestion to assist first home-buyers would add to housing demand) supply would have to vastly increase to slow the rate of property price increases.

            As for your suggestion, how do you suppose first home-buyers will attain the initial deposit to allow them to then enter the market and attain these lower interests rates you’re proposing?

            • Chris

              Precisely. When house prices are where they’re now lowering interest rates won’t touch the sides. But don’t expect a response from Spray and Walk Away Wayne.

          • Poission

            There are really the only two ways to change that.

            There are always more solutions to a problem operating far from equilibrium.

            The almost obvious solution in the interim is to reduce demand,ie unconstrained immigration of dubious qualities.eg


          • Foreign waka

            Hi Wayne -I wouldn’t support anything that involves borrowing money for a short term outcome as the same people who created that chasm in the first place will get fed some more of the hard earned money for higher profits.
            The only way you can remedy the situation is by planning housing projects that include infrastructure with the aim that you do not require ac car to get your essential provisions, health care and some entertainment.
            It also would mean that the planning needs to be done for the next 20-30 years – a feat that needs a corresponding vision – I don’t know any politician or even – god forbid – business person in this country that would qualify. Look at Auckland’s public transport system, already outdated and outgrown- this can only happen when the greedy meet the needy (for another term).

            • Chris

              And get the property developers out of the equation.

              • Carolyn_nth

                Yes. Needs regulations or taxes to stop land banking.

                Possible rent caps as a short term measure – rents are rising faster than incomes and CPI. The Green Party in Ireland is asking for a cap of no rises more than 4% per year, as a short term measure.

                Developers are only interested in building on new land, with big houses for the well-off. There’s no profit in smaller houses on already residential land. Lots of greenfields residential development happening in places like Orewa – but they will hardly be affordable.

                Building projects aimed at increasing supply, in places like New Lynn, have not produced the amount of houses promised by now.

                Need more safe, secure state housing – not with market rents. To pull down the rents & prices of houses.

                House price inflation gives a inaccurate measure of the health of our economy. tourism, immigration, house price rises – not productive investments that will ensure a sustainable economy.

      • DoublePlusGood 4.1.2

        Man, top tax rate of 60%, govt spending 40% of GDP, extensive welfare state, more regulated economy sounds amazing. Probably more important to also have higher tax on capital and finance, but still, excellent ideas, and that government spending would certainly get a lot done for the country, a hell of a lot more efficiently than the useless private sector.
        Your pitting of this as ‘freedom vs regulation’ is such bollocks. Neoliberal economics just gives freedom to people with high incomes and lots of capital. Low and middle income people are far worse off.
        I’m also fairly sure your income distribution claim is bollocks too

        And English has had years as finance minister to focus on innovation, yet the country’s R&D spend is the absolute pits. So your expectations will inevitably be dashed on the rocks of National’s incompetence.

      • Paul 4.1.3

        1970s New Zealand may not have been a nirvana , but it was a hell of a lot better for most NZers than today.
        Of course the rich are a lot better off now and you’re part of that group. So I’d expect a selfish rich person to regard the changes sine the 80s as good.

      • RedBaronCV 4.1.4

        Factually off the mark comparison Wayne. Tax rates for most people today are higher than then …..
        GST – 15% and Tax – 30% plus student loan for many – 12% = 57% for a lot of younger people
        and much of the rest it’s 45% which used to be well up the bands. And the excessive charging for compulsory government services. Looked at the cost of getting a drivers license lately??

        Only those on high incomes $150k are better off with the low tax rates.

        New Zealand may be better off in $$$ ( depends what you measure ) but all the gains over the last 25 years have gone to the small top sector or been sent offshore to multinationals. The 1984 to 1991 reforms turbo charged income inequality and it’s never recovered. Most wages have barely shifted over the last 25 years while costs continue to rise.

        As for the government being 40% of gdp spending ? Don’t forget to deduct the attached income (from better power prices for one).
        And that would have to be better than sending the same amount of money to prop up dodgy services from greedy companies.

      • RedBaronCV 4.1.5

        Oh I forgot to mention. Since there is a group like you doing so well they should be delighted to give back with higher tax rates – we could even have a 60%ter lapel badge sent out by the IRD

      • Rosemary McDonald 4.1.6

        “The changes of 1984 to 1992 were essential. New Zealand is much better for them. Yes there are more wealthy people, but overall New Zealand is better off.”

        Wayne, we were discussing student loans the other day and you pretty much spun the same line. I asked you a few questions…I’m awaiting answers…

        Daily Review 15/12/2016

        How much did you pay to enroll for your first degree?

        How much did you have to pay for accommodation and living expenses.

        How much did you have to borrow from the government to pay for your university education?

        You may just have known someone who trained for a trade while you were studying…law, was it? Anyway…how much did apprentices have to pay to train during the time you were studying?

        Funny. don’t you think, that the loudest voices demanding today’s youth mortgage potentially their entire future to pay for their education are the privileged who got their education for free.

        I firmly hope there is an especially hot zone in hell for those New Zealanders over fifty years old who do not hang their heads in shame at this betrayal of today’s youth.”

        Those “essential changes” Wayne…what negative impacts did they have for you?

        • Chris

          Spray and Walk Away Wayne has left the building.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            “Spray and Walk Away Wayne has left the building.”


            Funny how he waxes all authoritative and fiscally on to it then avoids the real questions.
            He’d argue he’s being impartial, taking a ‘big sky’ view. Typical of the privileged to ignore the damage done to lesser mortals.

        • Wayne


          I had an A Bursary plus an out of town accommodation bursary. Student fees were about 10% of the actual cost to the University of delivering the courses, (compared to fees being about 30% of the true costs today). I would note that only 10% of NZer’s went to University at that time.

          I had a job the entire summer holiday, plus part-time work during the year (about 20 hours per week).

          My possessions were personal plus a motorbike. No travel overseas or even to the South Island. I recall I seemed to be virtually broke most of the time, but I could afford to go to the movies.

          At the end of my degree I had no debt, but also owned very little.

          However, within one year of graduating we owned a house in Manurewa, on the basis of 10% deposit, some of which was borrowed from my wife’s parents. Because our income was low, we qualified for a 3% loan from what was then State Advances. But later, when buying my next house, interest rates were 15%.

          By three or four years work (after returning from doing an LLM in Canada) I had hit the top tax rate of 60% which kicked in at $22,000 income. The top tax rate kicked in on way too low an income! That all changed with the election of the 1984 Labour govt, which in my view transformed the NZ economy in a fundamentally good way.

          I personally think the combination of lower personal taxes and student loans makes much more sense than 60% taxes. There are much better incentive signals. We obviously now also have GST, but in large measure GST replaced a proliferation of sales taxes, many of them pretty high depending on the nature of the goods.

          We did not have anything like the amount of personal possessions/household chattels which seem typical today..

          My first overseas trip was when I went to Canada for postgraduate study.

          New Zealand seemed a much poorer country than it is today, and much poorer than Canada. That is no longer true. New Zealand has done quite a bit of catching up in the last two decades, especially the last decade, since we did not have anything like the level of setback during the GFC that North America and Europe suffered.

          Have a look at the 2017 Economist Yearbook for the comparative GDP per capita figures. We have passed the UK and France and are close to Germany. Not so long ago we had the same GDP per capita as Italy. They are now miles behind NZ.

          So there is no betrayal of today’s youth. The only significant problem to be fixed is housing affordability, which is primarily an Auckland problem.

          • Paul

            Of course, Wayne, there is no inequality in New Zealand.
            And it’s a paradise for everyone.
            Keep living in the bubble……………….

            • Rosemary McDonald

              “Keep living in the bubble………”

              Bubble? Or a cloud of hallucinogenic gas?

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Thanks Wayne…at least you responded.

            Others, I am sure, will highlight the flaws in your assertions.

            • Paul

              You call that a response!

              • Rosemary McDonald

                God, Paul…I’d have to go through it line by line…I consider it a win that he actually answered and showed his true colours…yet again.


                “At the end of my degree I had no debt, but also owned very little.”

                Bully for bloody you, Wayne.

                What kind of a country encourages it’s children to pursue a tertiary education AND to borrow in order to pay for it?

                THEN, THEN change the narrative so that somehow it is the Government, made up of privileged prats who at the end of their degree had no debt, that is doing this generation a favour?

                Then, then, increased GST (you vomited that up Wayne) and practically forced the young ones into compulsory Kiwisaver schemes by threatening them with no Superannuation like the privileged prats have.

                “New Zealand seemed a much poorer country than it is today, ”

                By what standard Wayne….????

                • Carolyn_nth

                  I think the “seemed poorer” is more based on the limited amount of consumer goods available back then.

                  Since then consumerism has become rampant – with non-necessities often cheaper than basic necessities for living.

                  It probably also seemed poorer to the educated and professional classes – more toys; more overseas travel, etc.

                  • Rosemary McDonald

                    ““seemed poorer” is more based on the limited amount of consumer goods available back then.”

                    You’re probably right…but that was not what I was thinking.

                    I well remember when those import restrictions were lifted and ‘luxury’ goods could be brought in to satisfy the lust of the new New Zealand upper class….

                    …and a deluge of crap for the masses to buy to give them the delusion of ‘wealth’.

          • Carolyn_nth

            “Incentive signals” to whom? The already privileged classes and their children?

            An see Barry Coates on the way the OECD stats are misleading about NZ’s economy.

            Misleading GDP figures, pumped up by property speculation and high immigration, have given the impression that all is well, masking our continued economic decline compared to OECD countries.

            In fact, we are near the top of the OECD in hours worked, but near the bottom in terms of productivity. We’re working harder and working longer hours, but not working smarter. The result is that we’re getting more stressed, with less time for families and each other, while losing ground economically.

            The latest analysis of labour productivity comes from the Productivity Commission, showing a cluster of related problems that are contributing to our low productivity. Firstly, there is low investment per worker. The Productivity Commission shows low investment in workers skills in 19 out of 24 industries, compared to Australia. With relatively low wage rates and more short term contracts, there is low investment in upgrading worker skills and improving technology. This is made worse by our education system failing to provide a decent education to kids in low decile schools and under-investing in vocational education and training opportunities.

            Secondly, the Productivity Commission report shows that, instead of investing in productive enterprise, investment is going into tax-free speculation, such as residential housing. New Zealand’s diversion of capital into residential housing is far above the OECD average.

          • Red Hand

            Impressive. And some good advice from yourself and other winners. Do you still employ domestic help ?


  5. Paul 5

    NOAA Issues ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Assessment on ‘Unprecedented’ Arctic Warming

    If President-elect Donald Trump’s appointments of a “band of climate conspiracy theorists” weren’t already stoking fears for the ever-warming planet, the latest Arctic Report Card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may well provide the ignition.

    The annual assessment, released Wednesday, finds that “persistent warming” is driving “extensive changes” to the region. In fact, the average air temperatures were “unprecendented”—the highest on observational record—and “Arctic temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase,” NOAA states.

    “Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger, or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program. “While the science is becoming clearer, we need to improve and extend sustained observations of the Arctic that can inform sound decisions on environmental health and food security as well as emerging opportunities for commerce,” he added.

    NOAA Issues ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Assessment on ‘Unprecedented’ Arctic Warming

  6. Clive Blake 6

    I am new to the mike so forgive me if I am re-visiting a subject that has been flogged to death but everytime I hear David Shearer speak as I did this morning talking to Kim Hill it re-ignites my anger with the Labour Party’s heirarchy that saw fit to dump him from his leadership role ….what a PM this guy would have made if given half a chance .A prime example of the short sighted and poll driven decision making so reminiscent of our recently departed PM . I thought the NZ Labour Party was better than that and my faith in them was rattled to the core over the issue and has still not returned sufficiently to award them my vote
    Clive Blake

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      I am new to the mike so forgive me if I am re-visiting a subject that has been flogged to death but everytime I hear David Shearer speak as I did this morning talking to Kim Hill it re-ignites my anger with the Labour Party’s heirarchy that saw fit to dump him from his leadership role ….what a PM this guy would have made if given half a chance .

      He wasn’t dumped – he resigned and he did so because he was failing badly as leader of Labour. Amazingly enough, IMO, Labour Party members don’t expect their leader to be a National Lite beneficiary basher.

      • Clive Blake 6.1.1

        I think I now better understand the level of debate

        • Chris

          Did Shearer’s comments about the sickness beneficiary painting his roof resonate with you?

        • Once was and others etc

          Or you could just accept – like he seems to have – that whilst he is/might be a really nice guy – compassionate and wanting to put his humanitarian skills to good use, that he wasn’t really cut out for politics in today’s environment.
          Let’s just give him whatever support we’re able in his new endeavours, but not try and reinvent history and paint him as something he wasn’t.
          At that time and place, he was shit. Which is not to say, given a different, less toxic time and place – he might have been brilliant.
          Who knows Clive, there might be a time in future when he’ll return (hopefully a little more charitable towards beneficiaries painting a roof)

          That was an honest interview – if he’d told the spin doctors to take a hike from the start, he might have done better. What I detected (even if he didn’t actually say it) was that he lacked the self-confidence – or perhaps arrogance to pull it off. He was probably too ‘nice’. Instead of Fran Mould, he probably could have done with a Paul fucking Henry – or even that curmudgeon Edwards

          I imagine during his experiences with the U.N. in the past, he caught a little bit of the “You don’t know how lucky we are”

          • Chris

            Matthew Hooton added a very slimy and disingenuous but essentially toxic dimension to Shearer’s rise.

    • Sacha 6.2

      I remember watching him hold up those fish in Question Time and knowing right away that he was toast.

      • Once was and others etc 6.2.1

        mmmmmm. Sardines on toast! I was trying to decide what was cheap and quick to eat for tea whilst cooking for one.

  7. greywarshark 7

    The Sixth day of Christmas on Friendship :

    What is a friend? I will tell you…it is someone
    with whom you dare to be yourself.
    Frank Crane

    (Dr. Frank Crane (1861–1928) was a Presbyterian minister, speaker, and columnist)

  8. james 8


    King to give up Rongotai.

    At last – a seat so safe that even Little couldnt lose it.

    Im picking he will take this one up – given the polling being list only is a very scary place to be in labour – even if you are at the top of it.

    • DoublePlusGood 8.1

      I think he’s living in Rongotai or close to the border, so it would make sense.
      However, it’s not that safe a seat as I could envisage a strong Green campaign in the seat.

  9. Muttonbird 9

    2TBs of data leaks from government servers according to Kim Dotcom. To be released ahead of the 2017 election.


    • Carolyn_nth 9.1

      Another Moment of Truth.

      In the article linked from Bomber’s post, KDC said that the Moment of Truth revealed something that should have lost key the 2014 election, if the MSM had written about the MoM accurately.

      I watched the MoM, and saw no shocking revelations about Key. It was a fizzer in that respect,

      Snowden did reveal that the NSA had a presence in NZ. That was the biggest revelation.

      I also think KDC over-states the bias of NZ MSM. There are some good investigative pieces coming from the likes of David Fisher, Matt Nippert and John Campbell.

      Also, Paula Penfold’s documentary on NZ prisons.

      • Molly 9.1.1

        The extent of access the five eyes network had to NZers data, was laid out in the Moment of Truth.

        This information showed the completeness of the lie Key told when discussing the new legislation. However, for most, the focus was on Kim Dotcom, and that point seemed to be ignored and forgotten.

        • Carolyn_nth

          There were two aspects to the Moment of Truth. The fizzer was in relation to KDC’s hype prior to the MoT, saying he was going to produce evidence Key lied about KDC’s arrest. This is what I meant when I said KDC’s MoT was a fizzer. KDC is responsible for over-shadowing the Greenwald-Snowden revelations, because he put himself at the centre of the MoT and made it all about him.

          The stuff told by Greenwald and Snowden was riveting – and the right wing journos in NZ tended to dismiss that. Not all the MSM believed Key though, and some thought there was enough evidence to damn Key.

          Andrea Vance reckoned the MoT did produce enough substance re-surveillance, and wasn’t interested in the KDC kerfuffle.

          Snowden says New Zealand had access to X-KEYSCORE, the data harvesting programme at the centre of the global spying scandal which his whistle-blowing sparked last year.

          Not only that, but the Government Communications Security Bureau contributed to its development and expansion.

          Snowden also says the NSA operates a facility in Auckland. None of Snowden’s previous disclosures about the US, Canada, Australia and Britain have been disputed.

          His assertions came after journalist Glenn Greenwald published details of Project Speargun – GCSB’s masterplan for mass surveillance. He backed up his reporting with NSA documents showing the operation was underway, and US and New Zealand spies were waiting for domestic legislation to complete the project.

          In his captivating broadcast, Snowden raised two extremely important questions.

          Firstly, why did Key not make details of Project Spearhead public during the public debate about the new spying laws?

          That trashes Key’s claims about enhanced transparency on intelligence and security issues. evidence to support Snowden’s claim.

          Other MSM journos had mixed responses, with the likes of Fran O’Sullivan claiming Snowden produced no evidence of the surveillance breaches:

          Dotcom set out to prove the Prime Minister a liar over moves to extradite the MegaUpload founder to the US.

          But there were no killer punches landed on John Key. Neither was any conclusive evidence revealed proving Key knew about Dotcom well in advance of the Coatesville raid. Even the email that was flicked to the Herald as positive proof that Key was involved in a Hollywood plot to spirit Dotcom to the US, was quickly dismissed by Warners as a fake.

          The mass surveillance issue was always a red herring, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden presented no concrete evidence of privacy breaches, Julian Assange was a sideshow. Snowden’s revelation that the NSA had an operation in Auckland has to be followed up.

          But Dotcom set out to demolish the Prime Minister’s credibility. He has spectacularly failed.

          The Guardian article on it talked more about the documents produced by Greenwald on Intercept in advance of the MoT as containing the damning stuff.

          The hype around KDC was of Dotcom’s own making. He hyped up the MoT before hand, saying he would produce evidence to prove the plot against him by Key and Hollywood re-his arrest in NZ. He had been talking up for a long while that that at the MoT he would produce evidence that JK had lied about KDC and his arrest.

          Just before the MoT he produced an email, and seemed to promise more in the MoT. But at the last minute he seemed to pull the plug on saying anything in the MoT. Then Warners’ claimed the email was fake.

          That is why I am skeptical about KDC’s claims about a hack of the NZ government. He likes to grandstand. If it is a big secret to be revealed next year, why is KDC leaking about it?

    • Cinny 9.2

      Looking forward to it, NZ needs more transparency, much respect to those whom are pro-active towards it. Makes one reflect on an OM post a few months back

      Re MOT.. Thoroughly enjoyed the moment of truth and build up, Amsterdam, Greenwald, Ed and Julian, wide awake sharers of information, intelligent and proactive, RESPECT.

      NZ public found it all a bit hard to swallow however, perplexed with the media spin on it, so desperate were the mainstream to have click bait on DotCom that they missed the whole point, or maybe they simply suppressed valuable information, justifying their actions by saying the public are just not that interested. Least that’s how I saw it played out in 2014.

      It’s certainly had many views

      • Carolyn_nth 9.2.1

        It wasn’t just the media spin, it was KDC’s own self-centred hype about his own case that muddied the waters.

        I seem to recall it was Greenwald that told him to pull the plug on making the climax about the MoT about KDC’s own case. He thought it would over-shadow the important stuff from the Snowden papers. But, by then, KDC had already done the damage.

        The two topics should have been kept separate.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    Facebook Is Finally Cracking Down on Fake News
    Conservatives are already freaking out.

    “We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” Facebook’s News Feed VP Adam Mosseri wrote. “We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”

    Seems reasonable and they’re certainly going about it in a careful and considered manner.

    The conservatives seem to be concerned that their lies will be found out in near real time.

  11. adam 11

    Lets deal with the legacy, and ignore the man.

    A great piece from Wayne Hope over at the daily blog, just wonderful .


    • Once was and others etc 11.1

      “A great piece from Wayne Hope…….”
      AS ALWAYS.
      He (also) has a good handle on the issue of “all those bloody foreigners and international students coming here taking all our jobs”

  12. Morrissey 12

    Cricket News: Breen on 48 and looking good
    Making good progress at 12:36 p.m.

    Coming in at No. 2 on the batting order, Breen looks like bringing up his half ton at any moment. Click below to see the historic moment LIVE….


  13. rhinocrates 13

    The Atlantic’s short documentary on the “alt-right” Neo Nazis, includes interview with Richard Spencer, current self-proclaimed front man of the “movement”:

    Have a bucket handy, but it’s necessary to know that they exist and how they operate.

    That silly haircut is known as a “fashie” by its wearers in the Neo Nazi movement.

    • Siobhan 13.1

      ” necessary to know that they exist and how they operate”…not really.

      “Richard B. Spencer greeted an audience of more than 200 at an alt-right conference in Washington D.C. last month with the cry, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” He was met with enthusiastic cheers and Nazi salutes”…oooh, 200 people.

      Thats the same number that enjoyed the Coláiste Mhuire Johnstown first ever Festive Food & Craft Fair….. followed by a Cookery Demonstration.


      and you don’t need to know about that either…

      • rhinocrates 13.1.1

        Numbers in rooms don’t matter any more when it’s streamed or if there’s one in the White House – Steve Bannon. You’re being silly.

    • ScottGN 13.2

      The rebranding going on at the moment with the neo fascist right is quite astonishing, or at least the rebranding is interesting, what’s most astonishing has been the media’s propensity to lap it all up.
      As for the hairdo, that fashy undercut is everywhere at the moment, I’m sporting a version of it myself and I’m certainly no neo-nazi. An example of the lengths to which the Alt-Right has gone to make themselves the mainstream as they’ve pivoted away from the “crazy” skinhead and Klansmen stereotypes towards a clean-cut well-dressed Hitler Youth look which the fashion world finds irresistible.

      • rhinocrates 13.2.1

        A good example of appropriation then, like Pepe the frog. Sometimes they seem ridiculous – some are trying to appropriate 80s digital music “ironically” as “fashwave” while others are split over whether they should boycott Star Wars films because they’re anti-fascist and have women in them, or watch them and root for the Empire/First Order.

  14. Muttonbird 14

    Love the lead paragraph:

    A surprise legal error may give Solid Energy access to the Pike River mine but its contractors will have to drive over 29 white crosses to get there.


  15. Morrissey 15

    Peter Williams evidently finds “Duterte Harry” and
    his extradjudicial killings to be highly amusing

    Advertisement for 6 o’clock News, TV1, 5:39 p.m., repeated at 5:47 p.m.

    In a chirpy and amused tone, veteran autocue reader Peter Williams reads out the following teaser for tonight’s News:

    “The new Philippines president personally confirms that he PERSONALLY KILLED three people in his war on drugs!”

    Peter Williams, like his vacant-eyed colleagues, has never impressed me as someone who either knows much or thinks much about international politics. But he does know enough to realise that President Duterte of the Philippines is an official ally, and therefore even something as depraved as his killing of unarmed captives can be recounted in a chirpy and amused tone.

    It’s not hard to imagine the lugubrious countenance Williams would strike, and the tone of grim admonition he would adopt if ever an official enemy, rather than an “ally” like Duterte, boasted of killing unarmed captives.

    There have been many killings lately, the officer jokes, that these days you can easily get away with any kind of murder: “You can kill him, put masking tape on him and everybody is going to think that guy is a drug pusher.”


    These were the first words Williams intoned at 6 p.m….

    Cut it Out! What President Obama said to Vladimir Putin today about Russian cyber attacks.”

  16. Ad 16

    My little ideas for the big Cabinet announcement tomorrow:

    1. Prime Minister Bill English: SIS, Tourism
    2. Paula Bennett: Housing, Auckland Issues, Associate Finance
    3. Stephen Joyce: Finance
    4. Simon Bridges: Economic Development, and Transport
    5. Nikki Kaye: Social Development, Education
    6. Todd McClay: Trade, Foreign Affairs
    7. Michael Woodhouse: Health
    8. Chris Finlayson: Attorney-General, Treaty Negotations, and Arts+Culture
    9. Judith Collins: Defence, Police
    10. Dr Jian Yang: Minister of Tertiary Education, Associate Minister Foreign Affairs
    11. Andrew Bayly: Ministry for Primary Industries (Forestry, Fisheries, Agriculture)
    12. Gerry Brownlee: Chief Whip, Earthquake Recovery
    13. Joanthan Coleman: Justice
    14. Scott Simpson: Revenue
    15. Alfred Ngaro: Corrections, Pacific island Affairs
    16. Nick Smith: Conservation, Environment
    17. Jamie-Lee Ross: Local Government

    • Cinny 16.1

      interesting Ad, is Nikki well enough to handle two big portfolio’s ? Please not Nick in environment/conservation. And Coleman doing Justice instead of Health, fascinating.

      You reckon Tolley is a goner? Wonder whom will announce resignation for family reasons tomorrow, haven’t had any quitters for two whole days now lololz.

      Do you know what time the announcement is tomorrow please? I’m curious as to the outgoing PM’s picks for the outgoing government.

      • Ad 16.1.1

        Radio NZ are coving it from 3, with commentary thereafter.

        I think Kaye is well on the mend, but if she wants to beg off, fine; I was thinking like a PM trying to keep the social investment framework integrated and accelerating. Those were the two portfolios to do it.

        • Cinny

          Thanks mate, will tune in, looking forward to reading yours and others thoughts on here afterwards.

  17. Joy FL 17

    Political discussion at tonight’s dinner table was about Ruth Dyson being the next to leave, following closely Annette King’s latest announcement.

    • Rosemary McDonald 17.1

      Strewth, not Ruth! And Annette!

      My dream is to sit down for an hour with the pair of them and have a free and honest discussion about why they didn’t sort the Family Carers issue before it went to the Tribunal in 2008.

      They had all the facts and research at their fingertips, and chose to throw us to the National wolves.

      Thanks, ladies. Your angry ranting in the House on the 17th May 2013 was nothing but crocodile tears.

      • Chris 17.1.1

        Labour took exactly the same stance towards the carers sleepover case that started around the same time. They could’ve fixed it there and then but Labour let the unions and the providers scrap it out for years before the workers got what ended up being a pretty watered down form of justice.

        Dyson tried to claim quite a bit of the glory from a number small wins in the disability sector that she in fact had fuck all to do with. She’s definitely another who needs to sling their hook.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “…carers sleepover case…”

          Hah! What had me yelling at the radio during the sleepover case was that the very simplest of solutions would have been to do what ACC was doing at the time….a tax free allowance of about $80 -90 per night for non active sleepovers…instead of the pathetic $30 odd that IHC was paying under Miserly of Health. I understand that there is an hourly rate for both now.

          • Chris

            Labour could’ve fixed it by renegotiating the contracts based on the true cost of wages. Instead they washed their hands saying it was an “employment” problem. Then when the workers were successful at the Employment Court Labour MPs started cheering “we won!” The whole thing was sickening to watch, including IHC as well, how as an employer they then took on the workers when they themselves argue for proper wages for care workers. It was a perfect opportunity for IHC to join with the workers to lobby government over the inadequate contracts. IHC’s position on that issue showed their true colours, consistent with how they’re colluding with the government to end state involvement in housing. IHC is evil to the core.

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  • District Court judge appointed
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  • Join the one in a million reo Māori moment
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