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PSA launches myth busting campaign

Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, August 2nd, 2011 - 57 comments
Categories: debt / deficit, economy, Economy, election 2011, uncategorized, Unions - Tags: , , ,

The PSA is launching its election campaign this evening.   Our big challenge is to break through the government’s narrative (now reaching  mythic proportions)  that NZ is sinking under debt the likes of Greece  tooand the only solution is to cut public spending and sell assets.

As the well informed readers of The Standard know, NZ’s debt crisis is 90% private debt owed to mainly Australian banks while NZ public debt is one of the lowest in the world. So debt isn’t the reason for cutting services, it’s the excuse. 

We’ve hired a great ad agency to help us – the ones who’re doing the Power Shop ads ‘same power, different attitude’, Raybon Kan is the MC tonight and the ad campaign start tomorrow.  Let’s see if we can cut through the government’s fiscal fairy tales and start an adult conversation about the value of New Zealand’s public services and the difference between public and private debt.

NB the PSA’s not the only union upping the stakes this election.  NZEI just started TV commercials  too, you can have a look at  www.speakup.org.nz



57 comments on “PSA launches myth busting campaign ”

  1. queenstfarmer 1

    As the well informed readers of The Standard know, NZ’s debt crisis is 90% private debt owed to mainly Australian banks while NZ public debt is one of the lowest in the world.

    And as well educated readers will know, it doesn’t matter when a country is spending more than it earns. Just one reason being that a country with low productivity and low savings has far less ability to load up its public sector.

    However if the PSA wants to campaign on more debt justified on the grounds of “but Greece is worse”, and describing the situation as “fiscal fairy tales”, then more fool them. Just look at what has happened in the US debt ceiling hoopla as exhibit A.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      Exhibit A of what? Right wing politicians holding a country to ransome?

      • queenstfarmer 1.1.1

        Exhbit A of both Republicans and Democrats agreeing to trillions of dollars of reduction in expenditure.

        • Pascal's bookie


          Does that mean it is the right approach?

          Do you think the GOP is arelly acting in good faith/

          And you might want to check your facts. There are still bottlenecks to get through before trillions are cut, and if you think the GOP won’t launch the same kabuki play in those bottle necks, you haven’t being paying attention.

          Tell me, how well is austerity working in the UK for their budget? They seem to have GDP issues, who would have thought, huh?

          • queenstfarmer

            It means that the left-wing party in the US has recognised, and even embraced, the need for fiscal restraint.

            Of course the far-left unions are not happy about this, but they are flying in the face of their preferred party as well as the public sentiment on this issue.

            Austerity is working pretty well for the UK.

            • Pascal's bookie

              That’s either a singularly dishonest, or a profoundly ignorant description of what went down. Either way it’s pretty clear it’s a waste of time talkin’ with you.

              An example, to forestall expected patheticisms:

              as well as the public sentiment on this issue


              Look and see what the public thinks about a plan that only cuts spending and doesn’t also increase taxes, which has been the fundamental point of the recent debate.

              • queenstfarmer

                Thank you. Those polls fully support what I said.

                Looking at Reuters numbers, ~75% say they favour spending cuts (either with or without tax increases).

                The Pew poll numbers are even higher: ~80% favour spending cuts (either with or without tax increases).

                You are looking at the “cuts only” options, which is effectively the Tea Party position and therefore much less popular. But, exactly as I said, the public sentiment is for cutting spending.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  The cuts only option is what happened. You claimed that what happened in the debt ceiling debate demonstrated something. Specifically, you claimed that it demonstrated US public sentiment. It did no such thing.

                  • queenstfarmer

                    Specifically, you claimed that it demonstrated US public sentiment. It did no such thing.

                    Yes it did. Look at the poll data you yourself posted. 75+% in favour of fiscal restraint.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      The data supports the idea that the US people want tax hikes and spending cuts. They specifically do not want spending cuts without tax hikes, which is what the debt ceiling hostage negotiations ended up at.

                      The debt ceiling outcome does not exemplify what they want. Which is why it is bullshit to use it as an example of what they want.

                    • queenstfarmer

                      I wasn’t arguing that. Show me where I said “the debt ceiling outcome does exemplify what they [the public] want”.

                      What I actually said (read it above) was that public sentiment supported “the need for fiscal restraint“.

                      Which is exactly what your poll data helpfully confirmed. This couldn’t be any clearer.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      “Exhibit A” is a good place to start.

                      And then throughout the rest of the conversation where you assume that the debt deal is interchangeable with ‘fiscal restraint’. Either that, or you can admit that you shifted to ‘FR’ because you got busted in claiming Exhibit A was a good exhibit.

                      It was your example dude, that you introduced, of fiscal restraint. You then said that ‘far left unions’ might not be happy about the deal, but that supposedly just showed how out of touch they were with public sentiment.

                      All of that was in reference to the example you raised, as Exhibit fucking A.

                      Like you say, pretty clear.

                    • queenstfarmer

                      Now it seems you’re just intentionally trying to divert. I asked:

                      Show me where I said “the debt ceiling outcome does exemplify what they [the public] want”.

                      You answered:

                      “Exhibit A” is a good place to start.

                      Well let’s see if what I said about Exhibit A says what you claim it does. Here’s my exact quote re Exhibit A:

                      Exhbit A of both Republicans and Democrats agreeing to trillions of dollars of reduction in expenditure

                      So nothing there about the debt ceiling, or the debt ceiling being what the public wanted.

                      What the people want, overwhelmingly based on the surveys you linked to (and which the Dems and GOP are unanimous on), is fiscal restraint and spending cuts – see the surveys. I can’t imagine why you’re seemingly so keen to dispute this.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Just look at what has happened in the US debt ceiling hoopla as exhibit A.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      ME : “You claimed that what happened in the debt ceiling debate demonstrated something. Specifically, you claimed that it demonstrated US public sentiment. It did no such thing.”

                      YOUR Response then: “Yes it did.”

                      YOU now: “So nothing there about the debt ceiling, or the debt ceiling being what the public wanted.

                      Perhaps you can understand why I’m confused.

                    • queenstfarmer

                      Yes I am starting to understand why you are confused. You obviously have comprehension difficulty :-p </snark >

                      Well, it a bit OT now but we both seem to agree that US public sentiment is overwhelmingly behind spending cuts.

                      I suspect we would have similar, but not quite as high, numbers in NZ.

            • lprent

              Austerity is working pretty well for the UK.

              Not really. They look like they’re starting to get Ruthenasia style recession effects starting as the austerity cuts bite into spending. That will reflect itself in the tax take, and if it was anything like we saw in the early 90’s will chop out most of the austerity gains.

              Another shock would be quite dangerous for their economy right now – it looks to me like they’re about to get a pretty massive shutdown in their remaining manufacturing. There has been some extensive writing about it in the Economist over the last month or so.

              • queenstfarmer

                Yes, I didn’t mean to imply that the UK economy is doing well (by way of anecdotal evidence I’m getting mixed reports from a number of friends in London, but on the whole it’s a bit grim).

                It’s a question of whether it’s working vis-a-vis the alternative(s). Again, I find the US situation instructive. This little interchange frames it neatly:

                Will dismissed Krugman’s prescription. “We are a third of the way through a lost decade, but we’re a third of the way after TARP, the stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, dollars for dishwashers, cash for caulkers, the entire range of stimulus, the Keynesian approach, which, by its own evidence, simply hasn’t worked,” he said. “Now Paul says double down.”

                Krugman shot back, “people like me said in advance that [the stimulus] wasn’t remotely big enough,” he said.

                “It would be good to go to the electorate and have a Krugman election this time, saying, ‘Resolved: the government is too frugal,'” Will responded.


            • Draco T Bastard

              It means that the left-wing party…

              The US doesn’t have a left wing party. They’re both ring-wing authoritarian.

              BTW, the present economic paradigm, which was designed by the rich the benefit the rich, doesn’t work.

            • Vicky32

              Austerity is working pretty well for the UK.

              Er, according to whom? Really? That’s utter nonsense.

              • Colonial Viper

                Austerity works pretty damn well if you are in the top 1%.

                As an extra bonus entertainment you can see rows of civil servants and ordinary workers get fired weekly and end up on an ever lengthening dole queue.

                Extra chuckles come from seeing your Tory mates award a billion pound train contract to Siemens in Germany, forcing the last train manufacturers in the UK to lay off over a thousand staff.

                HAHAHAHAHAHAH so funny

              • queenstfarmer

                Not referring to the economy – see my 2:38 above.

            • Terry

              queenstfarmer, what kind of a nightmare world do you come from?

            • Terry

              queenstfarmer, what kind of a nightmare world do you come from?

      • Swampy 1.1.2

        Exhibit of the US credit downgrade based on their trillions of debt.

    • mik e 1.2

      Most of the Govt debt is going to build unnecessary motorways in Auckland if we just delayed spending and kept got debt as it was before borrowing Bill English came to power.We would have just about the same amount of Govt spending without the need to service debt this is nothing more than a vote grab in Auckland

  2. Speaking Sense to Unions 2

    did the PSA canvas its members before launching this election campaign?

    • The Voice of Reason 2.1

      When you speak sense to unions, do they just snigger and laugh? I only ask because ignorant questions like that suggests you’d be a figure of fun at the bargaining table.
      The PSA has one of the highest membership uptakes of any union precisely because they represent the interests of their members so well. While not affiliated to any political party, they have run excellent information campaigns during recent elections to advance the positions that advantage their members. Marketing and lobbying are an integral part of what modern unions do, but you wouldn’t know that because your mind is still stuck on Picton Wharf in 1978 waiting for a ferry that never comes.

      • Alwyn 2.1.1

        Do PSA members still get paid more than people who are not in the PSA but are doing the same job?

        • The Voice of Reason

          I sure hope so, Alwyn. And improved benefits too. The Labour Department keeps stats on things like that and it certainly pays to be in the union, both in the public and private sector. Chances are, if you got a wage rise in the last few years that even comes close to being reasonable, you’re a union member.

    • Craig Glen Eden 2.2

      You obviously now nothing about Unions SSU. When are you going to start speaking sense?

      I will be interested to see the PSA campaign its about time someone stood up for the public service and who better than the member driven PSA. The NZEI site looks like fun a good way to start.

  3. Lazy Susan 3

    Congratulations to the PSA for exposing this sorry little lie that NAct have been spinning. We do not have a problem with public debt in NZ however we do have a large problem with private debt. Most of this is due to households, speculators and developers loading up with debt in the residential property market and farmers farming for capital gain. The banks love it but it does nothing for the majority of the New Zealanders.

    Labour’s CGT is a great place to start to address this problem and reduce private debt. If QueenStFarrmer is still concerned with public debt rolling back the tax cuts for high income earners would be a good place to start.

    • mikesh 3.1

      Public debt is apparently increasing at the rate of around $380 million per week. That looks like a problem to me.
      A CGT may help, but a better idea would be to introduce a land tax. Either that, or make interest non deductible for tax purposes.

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        In principle a simple, broad-based land tax is a good idea and should be considered.

      • Lazy Susan 3.1.2

        Public debt is apparently increasing at the rate of around $380 million per week. That looks like a problem to me.

        And behind that headline figure are the following facts:

        1. Treasury have been borrowing more than they need to to lock in low interest rates – English’s sorry attempt at a manufactured “public debt crisis” me thinks.

        2. Christchurch earthquake, SCF bail-out, tax cuts for high income earners

        Have a look at the following – paticularly where the Westpac economist says

        Stephens said the latest net debt figure would have no effect on New Zealand’s credit rating as it was very low by international standards.

      • Mike –

        Public debt is apparently increasing at the rate of around $380 million per week. That looks like a problem to me.

        It’s not the borrowings, per se, that are the problem.

        There is a difference between borrowing $100,000 to lavish cash-gifts on family relations and friends…

        As opposed to borrowing $100,000 and setting up a business that produces widgets or services that others will buy.

        That is the problem. This government cut taxes twice (April ’09, and October ’10) – all the while borrowing from overseas.

        Does this make sense? Because John Key stated, prior to the ’08 election;

        2 October 2008

        “Nats to borrow for other spending – but not tax cuts”

        “National will fast track a second round of tax cuts and is likely to increase borrowing to pay for some of its spending promises, the party’s leader John Key says.

        But Mr Key said the borrowing would be for new infrastructure projects rather than National’s quicker and larger tax cuts which would be “hermetically sealed” from the debt programme.

        The admission on borrowing comes as National faces growing calls to explain how it will pay for its promises, which include the larger faster tax cuts, a $1.5 billion broadband plan and a new prison in its first term.

        It has also promised to keep many of Labour’s big spending policies including Working for Families and interest free student loans.

        Mr Key today said there would be “modest changes” to KiwiSaver. “


        If National had canned the tax-cuts as “nice to have” but unaffordable; and instead invested borrowings in job creation schemes on infra-structure; more state housing; upgrading our schools; etc – then that would have been an investment that I believe most of us would see as sensible.

        However, this government has been anything but sensible or prudent. Yet again, National has shown it’s willingness to Borrow & Spend. And when Labour returns to governmrent, they will have to pay it off again. As they did in 2000 – http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/financialstatements/yearend/jun10/09.htm

        • queenstfarmer

          Perhaps you haven’t noticed but a few things have happened since 2008: the Canterbury earthquakes. Worst global recession since the ’30s. Euro crises. US debt crises. High oil prices. Record exchange rate.

          And when Labour returns to governmrent, they will have to pay it off again.

          Labour pays it off? Very nice of them. Last I heard it was tax payers (and only actually a small number of them). And it’s no great acheivment. Any Govt could pay off debts very easily by putting all taxes to say 80%. It’s how you do it without harming the economy, such as the lost decade of the 2000s.

        • Swampy

          Na it was the National government of the 1990s which paid off the huge debts from the Fourth Labour Government

  4. Brett 4

    We must have some big mortgages out there.
    According to this site, we owe just about the same per person as the US

  5. Another myth to bust is that National gave New Zealand tax cuts. Actually the richest 5% got the lion’s share – and guess who paid for it. I got $100 a week extra – in a country and time when 1 in 4 kids in this country lives below the poverty line. A shameful but utterly predictable ‘priority’ for a right wing government. The saddest part is NZ hasn’t woken up yet to that nice smiling Mr Key who has sold most people down the river.

    • Appleboy –

      No only have New Zealanders not woken up yet – but some seem to be on a masochistic “kick”…

      Public servants Tony and Clare Van der Lem, of Wellington, lost their jobs within months of each other as the government tightened public sector spending.

      “It’s been a gift in a sense,” says Clare, 54. “For the first time in our married lives we’ve had time together.”

      Says 55-year-old Tony: “It might seem a double whammy but it’s a hell of a lot more pleasant to be at home together than for one to be here on their own.”


      Jesus wept…

      • queenstfarmer 5.1.1

        So as well as being stupid, blind, asleep, etc, voters who don’t mercilessly blame the Government for everything aren’t even allowed to have their own feelings now?

        Jesus wept indeed.

        • Colonial Viper

          Haha qstf talking about other peoples’ feelings.

          How bloody ironic 🙂

      • Vicky32 5.1.2

        Maybe I am naive, but that article made me vomit a little in my mouth… and why on earth did they include this guy’s opinion? Crocodile tears…

        “You hate laying them off, it hurts. I treat every one of them as I would a friend, but we’re not a benevolent society.” He doesn’t blame the government either, citing the Christchurch earthquake and the global downturn. “They are most likely doing their best. It’s easy to say they should be doing something, but what exactly?”

        I wonder if the 48 people he sacked think of him as a friend? I wouldn’t – I’ve learned a lot since the days I thought of bosses as friends.. that’s what they want of course, so they can ask for more than they are entitled to…

      • john 5.1.3

        ahhhh man ,cant wait to lose my job

  6. tc 6

    and just watch the news tonight probably being full of the diversionary crap about spending taxpayer dosh to put our highest paid clown on letterman…..perspective/relativity…..hardly.

    • Vicky32 6.1

      and just watch the news tonight probably being full of the diversionary crap about spending taxpayer dosh to put our highest paid clown on letterman…..perspective/relativity…..hardly.

      No mention of it so far on TV or radio! On TV3, we’re up to the rugby, or as they call it the sports news. 🙁

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    It is indeed about “cut through”. Over the ditch the ACTU’s TV ads played a significant role in farewelling “I’m not saying sorry” Johnnie Howard. Several NZ unions contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the ACTU campaign, international solidarity, that should wind up Gossie and various other RW swine here!

    The public service has been attacked around the world the last few years, particularly in the USA and UK. Their crime? maintaining conditions and benefits at work everyone in a civlised society should have.

    Struggling middle class welfare recipients (Working For Families), inclusive of ‘change’ voters, are second only to disengaged non voters in needing a spot of “cut through”, go the PSA and NZEI.

  8. johnm 8

    that NZ is sinking under debt the likes of Greece and Ireland. Key’s Government Lies and manipulates. Take the case of Ireland: The Government, the private banks (borrowing astronomical amounts from Europe) and the Property Developers :all were in cahoots causing the neo-liberal feeding frenzy that inflated Irish Property to SCI FI levels. Now when it burst like a huge noisy fart The Irish People and the Government that was supposed to look out for them right down to the old guy living in a cottage out on the Beara Peninsular had absolutely no debt problem at all !!! NO DEBT PROBLEM AT ALL. The European Bond Holders were going to take a scalping not a hair cut! They’d lost at the CASINO! Further bets off!

    But the Irish Leprechaun Government got squeezed somehow and they squealed “We have a Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow”! The Irish People will pay your gambles gone bad YES!

    Though there was absolutely no legal obligation to pay the bankrupt private banks and bail out all that hot money they did!? They should have done what Iceland did and quite legally. You’ve got Governments in collusion with Banksters. In the U$$$$$$$$ they can’t beat the Banksters so they take them into the Government. If you can’t beat them(Cause you’re too darn scared)join them!

  9. Carol 9

    Great to see these campaigns kicking off, and I like the speakup.org.nz site too.

  10. Deadly_NZ 10

    Something that may or may not be of interest. In Parliament today Tariana Turia was asked a question about budget cuts to the womens refuge and she got a little testy and said something a long the lines of there have been NO cuts to womens refuge. the bit you want is about 4 mins in.

    I turn your attention to Scoop,

  11. Jum 11

    Colonial Viper said at 2 August 2011 at 8:47 pm said: “Austerity works pretty damn well if you are in the top 1%.

    As an extra bonus entertainment you can see rows of civil servants and ordinary workers get fired weekly and end up on an ever lengthening dole queue.

    Extra chuckles come from seeing your Tory mates award a billion pound train contract to Siemens in Germany, forcing the last train manufacturers in the UK to lay off over a thousand staff.”

    The global pattern of greed by the likes of Lord Ashcroft, neoconservative, John Key, David Cameron and the international business rotundtables growing fat in the belly by taking the food out of the mouths of our children is very interesting to learn about.

    The mainstream media is not showing us the full picture of the agenda of not only Key’s master American corporates like Merrill Lynch that he is helping to help themselves to our state owned assets and our medical and trade sovereignty, but the intention of this government to take control over New Zealanders’ working rights to such a level as they will never recover.

    Key and Joyce have literally agreed an agenda with Cameron and Ashcroft, with the financial and lobbyist backing of American interests, to break the future prosperity of New Zealand workers’ rights and their ability to manufacture goods that advantage all New Zealanders financially, spiritually, philosophically and in a sovereign-like manner.

    This is a very dangerous path to go down for New Zealanders’ future sovereignty.

  12. RedBaron 12

    NZ does have “private” overseas debt but nobody has any idea as to the amount of assets owned overseas by New Zealanders. As far as I know no statistics are collected on this. Money in foreign pension funds, houses in Australia, UK, France etc, foreign shares, boats whatever. So if this crisis is so bad then flogging off the condo in Hawai and depositng the money in a bank here would be a ‘good’ thing to do.

  13. RedBaron 13

    How can they possibly make an accurate guess about privately owned assets? Most people I know with overseas assets don’t let the information anywhere near the RB or anywhere else and have frequently purchased them whilst working outside the country. Oh and I forgot about foreign bank accounts.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      I’m guessing that the assets of individuals are largely immaterial. The assets of banks, corporations and other major financial institutions are what counts. We are discussing net positions of tens of billions after all.

  14. RedBaron 14

    Interesting discussion. Yes I agree we know what the banks and other large corporates borrow from overseas. What I’m not so sure that we have a handle on, is the answer that we would get if everybody sold their overseas assets and put the money in NZ banks or invested in bonds issued by corporates locally. This would replace bank and corporate overseas borrowing. As to the dollars involved, 2000 people at $0.5m each is a billion? I am sure I saw some time back the amount that Aussie pension funds had where the owners weren’t readily traceable (and strongly suspected to be kiwi) was some billions. Does anybody make a guess at this?

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