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So, borrowing to save makes sense afterall…

Written By: - Date published: 9:59 am, June 8th, 2011 - 29 comments
Categories: bill english, budget 2011, debt / deficit, superannuation - Tags: ,

Do you remember back in the day when Bill English didn’t want to put any money into the Cullen Fund? Remember how certain people on the right of the political spectrum started talking about how silly it was to borrow money in order to save money. If you go back a little further we find that Bill English himself thought the whole idea of borrowing money to save was “nonsense

Well I remembered being told that borrowing to save wasn’t a good idea, so I was a little surprised to learn that over the past few months the government has been borrowing $100 million a week more than necessary because they wanted to put the money away in the bank. Of course, they have a fairly sound reason for doing so, the government can borrow money fairly cheap now compared to what is expected towards the end of the year, earn interest on the money, and, so, both reduce its costs for rebuilding Christchurch and spread that cost over time. It’s a very sound strategy; the same strategy as putting money in the Cullen Fund now to spread out future superannuation costs, and make returns on the savings over and above the cost of borrowing.

The main thing to take from this though is that the government recognises that in some circumstances it is prudent to borrow money to invest in entities like the Cullen Fund. So, when National ignored Treasury’s warnings on lost returns and suspended contributions it had more to do with the National parties dislike for the Cullen Fund than conservative fiscal management.
-Aug

29 comments on “So, borrowing to save makes sense afterall…”

  1. ianmac 1

    Good thinking Guest. Perhaps Mr English wanted to undermine the Cullen Fund and used the downturn as an excuse? Surely not!

  2. queenstfarmer 2

    Guest’s post is a non-sequiter.

    The big error is the assertion that a borrower would “make returns on the savings over and above the cost of borrowing”. Do you have a guarantee for this, and if so please tell us? If not then you presumably think it is prudent for a government to gamble by borrowing from offshore investors (and pay them interest for years) and then send the money back to big overseas companies (which is where most of the Cullen fund goes)?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      You’re another economically illiterate Right Winger aren’t you?

      Since when is borrowing money and owing creditors at a low interest rate then reinvesting that money and getting a HIGH rate of return a BAD thing?

      And of course, if you want GUARANTEES in the investment world you must be one of the usual batch of Right Wingers – can’t stand any real financial risk, and someone who has no understanding of the real world – where there are no such “guarantees”.

      NZ can borrow from foreigners cheaply at the moment, and if we were reinvesting that money overseas through the Cullen Fund etc for a higher return, this country would be MAKING MONEY from its borrowing. A lot of money.

      Of course, English actually put a stop to investing in the Cullen Fund and as Cunliffe has pointed out that decision has cost this country many hundreds of millions in investment returns in just a short space of time.

      If your mate English has got as much of a shitty financial grip as you do, that explains a lot.

      • queenstfarmer 2.1.1

        You talk about the real world – where there are no such “guarantees”, but then go on to say “this country would be MAKING MONEY from its borrowing”. Yet given your first statement, how can you be sure of your second statement?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          Can’t deal with you pretend Right Wingers who have no confidence in NZ and no ability to take real business risks. Get some balls man.

          • queenstfarmer 2.1.1.1.1

            Glad you admit there are risks. That is my point.

            The risks need to be weighed, not pretend they don’t exist, as per the author’s glib assertion that a borrower would “make returns on the savings over and above the cost of borrowing” and which s/he calls “a very sound strategy”.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Meh. You don’t take the risks, you don’t get the payout. English doesn;t have the stomach to move NZ ahead and neither do you.

              English is costing this country a huge amount of money but what the fuck do you care as long as the already wealthy get their tax cuts.

          • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1.2

            Completely agree with queenstfarmer on this.
             
            Borrowing to invest in other companies inherently has risks that we cannot control.
             
            Bringing inevitable borrowing forward to when it is cheaper, to build a city that is inevitably going to happen, is really not the same as borrowing to invest in companies.
             
            They are fundamentally different. To suggest they are exactly the same is a nonsense, BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t say that they are similar ideas, because they are, they just aren’t exactly the same.

            • lprent 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Bringing inevitable borrowing forward to when it is cheaper, to build a city that is inevitably going to happen, is really not the same as borrowing to invest in companies.

              And the forward projection of superannuation costs is not inevitable? Please elucidate how you think that they will be covered.

              That is the fundamental precept of this post. It is pointing out that the government has cut the tax take that is required to cover the forward payments of superannuations because it asserts that a taxcuts increase the economy. At this level of cut, there is no evidence that it does. What it does do is increase the risk that the forward costs of superannuation will not be covered.

              The risk of the borrowing now at current rates and reinvesting is almost certainly less than risk of the government going belly up when it has fewer tax payers and more superannuiants in the future. Because those costs are inevitable bearing in mind the voting power of the elderly.

              • Lanthanide

                “And the forward projection of superannuation costs is not inevitable? Please elucidate how you think that they will be covered.”
                 
                That’s true, the superannuation costs are inevitable. But taking borrowed money and putting it into the cullen fund isn’t going to guarantee that you will end up with more money than you started with.
                 
                In one case we’re borrowing money now, parking it in a (low-risk) bank account and then spending it in 12-48 months time. In the other we’re borrowing money now, putting it into international markets (medium-high risk) and then spending it in 15 years time.
                 
                If you throw in a theoretical “peak oil is going to destroy the modern economy”, then investing the money in the cullen fund is even more unwise. We’re much better off taking that money and building a city with it in the very near future, which is what we’re going to do.
                 
                I have no problem with the government borrowing to put in the cullen fund, and I think that they should be doing that. What I’m trying to point out is:
                1. The timescales of these two scenarios are quite different
                2. The risk profiles of these two scenarios are quite different

                I don’t think it is reasonable to say “the government has been borrowing several hundred million dollars a handful of months earlier than they technically needed it, so by the same logic they should also borrow to put money into the cullen fund a dozen years before they will need it”.

                • lprent

                  Borrowing in the short-term to rebuild Christchurch makes perfect sense, if only because it reduces a ongoing loss. Of course there isn’t exactly a plan on how to pay that money back. The fairy tale in the budget about growth fixing the deficit is quite simply bullshit, as is the idea that enough would come from asset sales, cost cutting the rather small public service, or any of the politically accessible benefits, or that the lamearse infrastructure projects from Joyce will do anything except cost the country money.

                  That is one relatively short-term project. I think that Aug’s question is more basic and longer term.

                  The basic problem is that the total amount in the current tax take is too small to sustain government and superannuation. It is pretty clear that it will not be so for quite some years. Unless the tax rates are increased and if everything else stays the same (and ignoring further disasters), my guesstimate is somewhere towards 2020 if everything goes well on a realistic growth rate. Basically this government has proved yet again that minor drops in tax rates do not cause stimulatory or productive investment growth.

                  Tinkering at the edges (like this government is doing) isn’t going to help much. At present they’re simply pushing debt forward into future taxpayers and hoping that lot of elderly die before it comes due.

                  Aug is saying that if there is a differential between the cost of borrowing and the current ROI, then we’d be best placed to borrow now to take advantage of that. Sure we’d probably lose some possible opportunity cost of infrastructure investments. But frankly almost all of the investments that the government could make are crap – just look at the ones Joyce is trying to waste money in. And this government doesn’t want to invest in ones that would give better returns (like Auckland PT) for political reasons.

                  What we do have is a really high forward liability and no plan by this government to even start to deal with it. That liability is starting to affect our ability to borrow for consumption – ie for Nationals tax cuts. However, that doesn’t really apply if we borrow for investment.

                  In the absence of raising tax rates it is probably the most productive use of our ability to borrow at relatively low rates at present in addition to rebuilding ChCh.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Lanth this is bullshit rationalisation. English has cost this country hundreds of millions of dollars by not investing in the Cullen Fund and in KiwiSaver, that is actual money he has left on the table over the last two years because of his piss poor decision making. He was warned at the time, he ignored those warnings, and those warnings came true.

                  • Lanthanide

                    Look, I completely agree that stopping funding the superannuation fund was a dumb idea and they shouldn’t have done it.
                     
                    I am simply pointing out that saying “Government did X, so they should also do Y” because X and Y are similar ideas is wrong and by making that argument you are ignoring the important details.

                    Actually it would be more appropriate to say “Government did X because of A and B, so they should also do Y because of C and D”, in this case A and B are really very different from C and D, and therefore it does not follow that government should also do Y because they did X, actually they did X because of A and B and chose not to do Y because of C and D. I’m not defending their choice of not doing Y, I’m just pointing out that C and D are different from A and B so therefore the simple argument that because they did X, they should also do Y, doesn’t work. Now if X and Y both depended on A and B, then yes, if they did X then they should also do Y, but that isn’t the case.
                     
                    X = borrow up-front so borrowing in future months is reduced
                    Y = borrow to invest in superannuation fund
                    A = short-term borrowing that if not done in these 6 months *will* definitely be done in the following 6 months (ie, inevitable, and on a short time frame)
                    B = low risk, short time frame
                    C = Long term time-frame of 15-20 years
                    D = medium-high risk
                     
                    This, I believe, it exactly what queenstfarmer is saying, although I think he is also saying that investing in the cullen fund was a bad idea. I am not saying that, but that doesn’t mean I can’t agree with his other point.

                    • Aug

                      I totally agree with you, when I wrote this I actually wasn’t really considering whether the borrowing now or for the Cullen Fund was a good or bad idea, and in retrospect I was probably a bit blunt when I called it “a very sound strategy”.

                      What I was more interested in was the reasoning, Bill English didn’t call borrowing to save, “unwise in long term, medium- high risk investments, but acceptable in a short term, low risk scenario”,he called it nonsense. Now we find that he is borrowing money and saving it for future spending, how could I not call him on it.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Definitely agree with that, Aug, he deserves to be called out on it.

      • lprent 2.1.2

        …and getting a HIGH rate of return a BAD thing

        Depends both upon the risk and the rate of return. For instance borrowing to put in a gas to gasoline plant in the late 70’s looked like a sure thing provided that the risk of a oil price drop was low. Problem was that it was not.

        However the investment strategy being followed by the Cullen fund is about as close as you can get to low risk whilst investing. The countervailing risk of not having funds to run National’s superannuation system is pretty damn high to our ability to service debt further down the track (just thinking about what the costs are to the kids makes my grey hair disappear). It makes sense to use the low borrowing rates to hedge that risk.

        Of course it makes even more sense not to borrow to do the same thing. However that would require increases in the tax rates – which would be preferable to what this current set of idiot cowboys in government are doing.

  3. Tom Gould 3

    @ queenstfarmer, what nonsense. Both scenarios rely on projections and assumptions, which cuts both ways, either way. Stop dancing on a pin head. The fundamentals of the Guest Post are sound. As is the politics.

    • queenstfarmer 3.1

      Both scenarios rely on projections and assumptions, which cuts both ways, either way.

      That’s my point: what is the author relying on for the assertion that a borrower would “make returns on the savings over and above the cost of borrowing”? And if it there is credible authority for it, I look forward to seeing which political parties propose to borrow billions of dollars to buy up the entire market.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        I look forward to seeing which political parties propose to borrow billions of dollars to buy up the entire market.

        What, as opposed to English who is today borrowing billions of dollars more than he needs to and then doing squat with it except paying interest charges to China?

        You right wingers are financially and economically illiterate.

        • queenstfarmer 3.1.1.1

          No, it’s a smart hedging strategy. As the article says (unfortunately omitted by the Guest author):

          But Westpac senior economist Dominick Stephens said borrowing in advance was wise as interest rates were low.. “I think it’s a good prudent strategy to borrow the money, be sure that you can borrow the money before you actually need it. It’s just good cash management practices.”

          [lprent: That interpretation wasn’t omitted because I read it in the post in the second paragraph. That paragraph said exactly the same thing about borrowing under current circumstances as what you quoted. I also note that you appear to have ignored the whole point of the post which is in the end of the third paragraph.

          I suspect that you have either a reading or assimilation difficulty? Should I restrain my sarcasm when it looks like you didn’t read a post? Or should I view it as being just diversion tactics by yet another troll acting like a fuckwit? Please read the policy before answering and consider that you have just wasted some of my precious time checking your statement and writing this. I particularly detest diversion trolling when you can raise any topic you like in OpenMike. ]

          • queenstfarmer 3.1.1.1.1

            Sorry you see it as trolling, when it’s totally on topic. The quote was omitted, it is the key part as it explains the rationale – which is NOT to borrow to invest overseas. And which, as I said originally, demonstrates the non-sequiter of the guest post which is that the Govt should borrow to invest overseas.

            [lprent: Actually you are sort of correct when I look at the whole conversation. However you have to remember I read the comments backwards through time, without the threading, and I have many hundreds of them to read at a time. It is up to you not to attract my moderating attention rather than mine to dig around trying to figure out what is inside your head.

            I read exactly what you wrote – which said that the post missed THE relevant piece of the article it was commenting on – which was incorrect. You should be careful about saying things that assert posts are deliberately incorrect unless you clearly state why. Making invalid assertions about what a post said is a classic troll diversion comment style that I look for and squash.

            BTW: Your assertion here is incorrect if you look at the forward projection of risk with respect to the superannuation payouts in the future. But that is a topic for comment rather than mod warning if I have time. ]

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    The price of gold has gone from around $250 to over $1500, a sixfold increase, over the past decade. So in real terms a US dollar is now worth around 16% of what it as worth a decade ago. The change in exchange rate makes the NZ scenario slightly less bad: our dollar is worth around 25% of what it was.

    We could compare with oil, which has gone from around $20 abarrel to around $120 over the past decade or so -again a sixfold increase.

    Japan’s Nikkei index since 1990 is the classic example of failure:

    40,000
    20,000
    10,000
    12,000
    7,0000
    11,000
    9,000

    The nearly 80% drop since 1990 is a raw figure and doesn’t allow for inflation. If we factor in the drop in purchasing power we see that money invested in the Japanese market in 1990 would have lost about 97% if its purchasing power.

    Anyone who understands the money system realises that paper ‘investments’ have no intrinsic value, and most ‘investments’ will soon crash in a manner similar to 2008 (or worse), since the entire financial system is dependent on a declining real resource base.

    What is a little surprising is that the house of cards hasn’t collapsed before now.

  5. Seeing as how Key has, according to estimates, 50 mil banked, has quite an extensive investment portfolio and apparently donates his salary to charity.

    Just wondering if he has started up any businesses and invested in the local economy at a real grass roots level. Y’know, put his money where his mouth is and not his mouth where the cash cow shits from.

    same goes for English too…case of, do as i say not as i do ?

  6. I am beginning to think that the extra 5 billion borrowed is some kind of decoy. For what? The fiscal messages can be interpreted as confusing e.g. trimming government costs but borrowing to the hilt, saying the Cullen fund is unaffordable, selling off energy assets which will generate more income in the future if left untouched, proping up DHBs with one off payments because the 2011 budget will not cover DHB costs…

    There is no purpose in borrowing more than you need to get out of a shitty situation.

    • queenstfarmer 6.1

      There is no purpose in borrowing more than you need to get out of a shitty situation.

      There is a purpose to borrowing while rates are good. Very standard practice by Govts, businesses, mortgage-holders everywhere (also see hedging). No different to filling up your car because the price of petrol is about to be put up.

      • Treetop 6.1.1

        Are the exporters not paying more due to EXCESSIVE borrowing?

        English acknowledges that the government can only borrow a billion or two more.

        I first learned about the borrowing a month ago because interest rates were low and I commented on this site. The country is 5 billion in debt more than it needs to be.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Several points here:

    Firstly one of the fundamental concepts in investment is that the greater the return, the greater the risk. Therefore, assuming this principle applies in the specific situation of the Cullen Fund, borrowing money to invest at a higher return means that the borrowed investment is at greater risk. Otherwise, why would the lenders not set up their own fund rather than lending to NZ?

    Secondly, I would be interested to know if the returns on the Cullen fund are in USD. If so, the USD isn’t worth a bucket of shit at the moment. A lot of the Cullen fund investment took place when the USD was much stronger. Hence, if the returns are in USD, the exchange rate losses need to be considered to establish a true return to NZ. The exchange rate risk is a major consideration that contributors here may not have considered.

    In lefty Nirvana land where investments can be made in hindsight, there seems to be little value in considering the risk side of the investment equation.

  8. Looks like i might need to do some borrowing while the borrowing’s good too…

    …so’s i can afford to get me some of that kiwi mum and dad state asset firesale action English is touting come next National election win

    figure may as well borrow while my credit rating is still good enough to borrow against…

  9. MrSmith 9

    Our Government should never play the markets, they will get taken to the cleaners almost every time.
     
    They should instead be watching these markets like they are payed to, and if need be, they should be writing and passing into law stronger regulation of these very markets, that’s the job we elected them to do.
     

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  • COVID-19 vs New Zealand
    Yesterday, New Zealand recorded its first Covid-19 related death on the West Coast. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the only fatality, with the virus now being found in every region of the country.However despite the significant danger, people are still unfortunately breaching lockdown rules.There’s really only one main very ...
    4 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #13
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... ‘Misinformation kills’: The link between coronavirus conspiracies and climate denial   Grist / Rob Kim / Stringer / CSA Images  Scientific ...
    4 days ago
  • Rāhui day 4
    The kids did surprisingly well today – meltdown count was about 3, and mostly fairly short ones. (And a fourth while I was writing.) Game-wise I had a go at Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark. It’s a fairly standard RPG with turn-based combat and what they call a “mature storyline” (it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    4 days ago
  • Letter to a friend
    by Don Franks Hi David, Nice hearing from you, I’m glad to hear you’re getting by okay in these grim times. You asked how’s it going for us back here in New Zealand. You would have heard that the whole country is locked down and with breaks for exercise and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
    . . Lock Down: Day 3 – A photo essay with observations . March 28: First day of the first weekend in Lock Down. It feels like it’s been weeks since only Level 3 was declared last Tuesday, only four days ago. Woke up this morning to RNZ; coffee; toast, ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 22, 2020 through Sat, Mar 28, 2020 Articles Linked to on Facebook Sun, Mar 22, 2020 In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters by Chelsea Harvey, ...
    5 days ago
  • Rāhui day 3
    I’m here in lockdown with my flatmate and her two girls (6 and 2) and it. is. a time. They’re usually really active so to start with the only boardgame in the house is the copy of Guess Who that the 6 year old got for her birthday. Flatmate commented ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    5 days ago
  • A test of civil society.
    The CV-19 (COVID) pandemic has seen the imposition of a government ordered national quarantine and the promulgation of a series of measures designed to spread the burden of pain and soften the economic blow on the most strategically important and most vulnerable sectors of society. The national narrative is framed ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 2
    . . Lock Down: Day 2 – A photo essay with observations . March 27 – Day 2 of our Strange New World. The Park and Ride near my suburb, usually filled with hundreds of vehicles, had just… four; . . Another drive into Wellington City on a highway nearly ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    6 days ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    6 days ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    6 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    6 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    6 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    7 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    1 week ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    1 week ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    1 week ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    1 week ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago

  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago