Suspending the Cullen Fund

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, May 5th, 2009 - 47 comments
Categories: national/act government, superannuation - Tags: ,

Bill English seems set to suspend the government’s contributions to the Cullen Fund.

Here’s a little-known fact, one that Bill English probably doesn’t want you to know: The Cullen Fund made money in March, the sharemarkets are rising and we’re making money on that. In fact, the Cullen Fund out-performed the market.

The markets might go down again before the recession ends but, unless you believe the economy is going to remain in recession forever, this is a great time to invest to make money in the long-run because assets can be bought at such cheap prices. Long-term investment is what the Cullen Fund is all about.

Here’s another little-known fact: the law says that if contributions to the fund are suspended, they have to be made up with larger contributions in the future. We pay either now or later but we pay. That way, it’s a sure thing that we will have the pot of money when we need it.

Put these facts together. We have to put the money in some time and if we put money in now we will get a great long-term return, far better than normal = if there was ever a time not to suspend payments it’s now, we should be buying while the buying’s good, not waiting until prices are higher before we start buying again.

The reality is that National doesn’t like the Cullen Fund, and they would get rid of it if they could. When they nicknamed it after Cullen, they meant it pejoratively (like the John Key Memorial Cycleway). Their long game is to reduce the costs of public superannuation by cutting entitlements, rather than fund those costs with the Cullen Fund. That’s what really underlies English’s move to suspend payments to the Fund because he knows once they’re suspended, it will be politically hard to start them again.

In his valedictory speech, Michael Cullen bemoaned the press gallery’s lack of understanding of fiscal policy and economics. When English cries poverty as an excuse to suspend contributions to the Cullen Fund, he will be counting on it.

47 comments on “Suspending the Cullen Fund ”

  1. Yeh right 1

    these guys are fucktards.

    can we just give the keys to the corporates and at least stop the charade? Lets stop pretending that any decision that they make is to make anything better for the majority of New Zealanders.

    no economic stimulus package. Slashing the public sector, while claiming to be protecting jobs. cutting our retirement schemes and our improving savings record. selling ACC. supercity. 90 day fire at will. Exams for 6 year olds. Gutting the RMA. Ignoring rail and public transport. reexamining the science. Russell Norman….

    ech.

    • Tane 1.1

      Yeah. Just so people know, we’ve delayed this one til tomorrow morning. Slipped out by mistake during scheduling.

      • bilbo 1.1.1

        “At just over $11 billion, the Super Fund is New Zealand’s largest pool of investment money but in international terms it’s tiny and doesn’t yet carry that much bargaining power, particularly with offshore managers.

        The Fund has been declining of late and publicly lashed for doing so – dropping from a high of about $14 billion last year to its current level. But there is some good news in the latest monthly figures with the Fund reporting a positive return of 1.12% in March, outperforming its benchmark by 0.89%.”

        The real question is what rate would we need to borrow at to continue contributing to the fund during the next 12-24 months and would we be likely to exceed that with the returns from the fund ?

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 1.2

      You forgot to mention selling off corrections. Victoria did this in 1993, the had to pay a fortune to buy the prisons back eight years later. It was a disaster.

    • The Voice of Reason 1.3

      “… Russell Norman…”

      There’s only one ‘l’ in sel out.

  2. BeShakey 2

    The real question is what rate would we need to borrow at to continue contributing to the fund during the next 12-24 months and would we be likely to exceed that with the returns from the fund ?

    Thats one question. Another is what the impact of having to make up one/two/three years non-payments would be, and if it isn’t feasible to make up those payments how we are going to deal with the huge payments we will have to make for superannuation.

  3. BLiP 3

    And so the National Party finally has the keys to the treasury and flings open the doors to be looted by business which has had its eye on the treasure ever since the Cullen Fund was founded. Villains, the lot of them.

  4. Big on supposed facts, but no balance as expected.

    As noted above, given the state of the books inherited by National coupled with the recession, we would need to borrow. Surely that’s an inconvenient truth given your pre-determined position (anything National does must by nature be evil).

    Second, what’s wrong with a bit of retrospective law changes? Seemed to work well for the last Government.

    • Eddie 4.1

      The law change wouldn’t have to be retrospective – it would be about future payments and, yes, that’s clealry the ultimate plan.
      First, stop payments,
      step two make starting them again politically impossible (flows easily from step 1),
      step three change the law/abolish the fund,
      step four cry poverty and cut superannuation.

      • bilbo 4.1.1

        Perhaps if the previous Minister of Finance hadn’t left the cupboards bare there might have been enough left to continue contributions to the fund

  5. infused 5

    Borrowing to invest… hmm yes… Makes about as much sense as buying Kiwi Rail… oh wait…

    • aj 5.1

      Borrowing to invest makes a lot more sense than borrowing for the recent tax cuts

      • infused 5.1.1

        Except they didn’t borrow for them.

        • r0b 5.1.1.1

          Except they will borrow for them.

        • Eddie 5.1.1.2

          Yes they did. If the government hadn’t cut taxes, it wouldn’t be borrowing so much, therefore, it is borrowing to pay for them.

          • aj 5.1.1.2.1

            Exactly. If there were matching spending cuts had been made then they wouldn’t need to borrow so much either. And this demonstrates National’s big problem. They want to cut spending to cover tax cuts but can’t find anywhere near the amount of fat in government spending to do it.

  6. lprent 6

    One thing that interests me reading other comments around the net is that I think that the same people who are decrying the idea of raising debt to keep building the super fund, are the same ones who still want their promised tax-cuts in 2010 and 2011- financed by debt.

    Both are ways of grabbing cash now while pushing obligations on to their kids in terms of future tax increases

    Daveski: I opposed the Labour taxcuts in 2008 and the subsequent one from National. They shouldn’t have happened for exactly the reasons that you specify. They screwed the government’s fiscal position with a economic change flooding in from off-shore. Something that was predicable to happen – just not the timing or severity. Tax-cuts are a totally ineffective way to distribute a fiscal stimulus.

    National should remove both tax-cuts and the future ones. They are after-all primarily irresponsible for raising them as an electioneering issue from 2004 onwards. They should take the political pain for their position. However I suspect that they will simply pass the pain down the generations. After all that is what National does best in government.

    • Daveski 6.1

      In fairness LP I think that’s a reasonable comment. Borrowing for tax cuts or super investments at the current time doesn’t make sense.

      I think there is a corollary to your comments tho – those that criticised the tax cuts which required borrowing are guilty of supporting borrowing to fund future super payments.

      • lprent 6.1.1

        I criticised tax-cuts period (apart from the business one in ? 2007 ?). They ALL involved raising debt as soon as we got hit by a recession.

        So you’re saying anyone going for anything but the ‘chewing gum’ taxcuts is guilty IMHO .. 😈

  7. vto 7

    “Their long game is to reduce the costs of public superannuation by cutting entitlements,”

    They should be cut. Clearly, poor taxpayers paying super to rich folk that don’t need it is simply a folly. The only logic box it ticks is the greed vote box.

  8. infused 8

    I don’t think anyone here is defending tax cuts anymore lp

    • vto 8.1

      I am infused. My family’s income is more important than the bloody govt’s income. Multiplied by 4,000,000 people.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.2

      Why not have capital gains tax? That way you could fund a decent retirement for all.

    • lprent 8.3

      Probably not, but the existing ones that went through last year and this year should also be removed. The Nats need to put in a tax increase back to the old levels. It is preferable to pay now rather than keep compounding debt into the future.

      The only one that is worth keeping is the change to company tax from a few years ago that drew us inline with aussie.

      I have to agree with Douglas, the ‘line-by-line’ waffle that English is talking about will not yield anything like what is required to stop the growth in debt. Douglas is wrong in suggesting that wholesale removal of services to the private sector will do much. There is little fat left there either (I think Douglas is day-creaming the 80’s again). English will probably move on to doing substantive effective cuts in benefits.

      These are debilitating and outright stupid as almost anyone who ran across them in the 90’s and their aftermath can testify. They institutionalize poverty, lock recession into the economy, and slow any up-turn.

      • vto 8.3.1

        lprent, why do you consider the govts income more important than an individual’s or family’s income?

        • lprent 8.3.1.1

          Because in the end we are the government and are responsible for the governments fiscal viability. Pushing too much debt on to it, simply transfers the costs to be paid to the future generations and causes far more pain later. Muldoon proved that quite conclusively.

          You give tax-cuts after you have achieved the required forward savings and covered forward liabilities. That may be because you have increased the economy, or it could be because you have achieved savings. As it stands at 2005 or 2008 we have done neither, just made a start on those processes with the ‘Cullen’ fund, Kiwisaver, WFF (the latter increased the birth rate – ie future tax-payers), and various infrastructure investments.

          To do anything else (like bloody stupid and unrequired taxcuts) was to push costs forward into the future in uncovered health costs in an aging population and rising superannuation bills.

          The point of view of the Nats was that decreased tax bills would increase productivity. My general view on that is that it is bullshit. Never seen it achieved in a developed economy where there haven’t been special circumstances (like Ireland’s proximity to the EEC for instance). What you do see is that government investment in R&D, and human and physical infrastructure did. We’d barely got started on that after we’d finished killing debt. Now the Nat’s have chopped it – eg the R&D, the Forward Fund.

          Frankly the Nat’s look like addicted gamblers. Didn’t work once – lets try it again… 1975 and 1991

        • Daveski 8.3.1.2

          Seeing we’re talking facts here LP, let’s acknowledge that even after the Nats tax cuts, the “rich pricks” are still paying higher marginal and average taxes in 2009 than in 1999. It’s therefore an interesting argument as to which “old levels” you’re talking about.

          • lprent 8.3.1.2.1

            Sure. I pay the top rate and have done so since 1999.

            It needed fixing to get rid of major fiscal drag. But the key to that was to start adjusting the boundaries to at least partially compensate for inflation. ie do ‘chewing gum’ changes frequently. The type of tax-cut that Cullen proposed in 2005 and that the electorate derided under National’s prompting.

            Politically that meant that process was stopped so a ‘decent’ tax-cut could be given for purely political reasons.

            Basically the Nat’s for their own political purposes made ‘decent’ tax-cuts a political football. Total dickheads….. I have zero sympathy for their current dilemma

  9. vto 9

    We are not the govt. It is this fundamental philosophy which sets political directions. left politics seems to see the govt as some sort of base or foundation to society.

    I completely disagree. The individuals and familys out here are the foundation to NZ society, not the govt. Once that foundation is strong then govt can strengthen. But to weaken the foundation by taking from it in order to keep the counting house on top shiny and new is a perverse logic.

    I think you get lost in the detail rather than take an overarching view of the role and position of govt in society.

    • r0b 9.1

      vto – you can’t have strong, safe, successful families without a strong, safe, successful society for them to be a part of. If the government falls apart, society falls apart, families fall apart.

      • vto 9.1.1

        other way around r0b. Families are the foundation block, not the govt.

        Govt is a subset of human society.

        I sincerely cannot fathom the reverse idea which you have espoused – that human society is a subset of govt.

    • lprent 9.2

      I’ll agree to disagree. Families by their very nature are inherently selfish when looking at other families. That is part of the biological function – ie the selfish gene.

      The problem is that our societies are so large these days and so interdependent that for the last 10k years we have been building bigger and bigger governments to handle the bigger and bigger interdependencies between families. If some families are disadvantaged to favour others, it impacts upon all families in some form. Could be crime, war, disease, famine, recession, or any of many other things.

      The problem is that a lot of families view ‘government’ as a common that they do not have to support. Typically this happens at both economic ends of society – the affluent and the totally impoverished. Both are stupid attitudes, but more understandable at the bottom than the top. The top usually justify it by ignoring the part played by government and society in their affluence.

      Damn I’d better get some work done… *sigh* blogging is more fun

      captcha: rebuffs the

      • vto 9.2.1

        Agree with some of what you say but maintain my position. I suspect our views diverge at this point here ..”Families by their very nature are inherently selfish when looking at other families.” I disagree. People are not silly and recognise that they are best served by looking after their neighbours. The very survival of human society to this point in tiome points to this truism.

        But you are correct re the size of societies and the need for some ‘coordination’ given thte larger number of neighbours. Unfortunately this tends to discolour the true role of govt in society towards the left view.

        Gotta go work now too.

  10. vto 10

    Further lprent… Maintaining that the govt is more important than individuals or family implies very directly that we are servants or subjects of the state, rather than vice versa. You know where that idea can get shoved..

  11. gingercrush 11

    This reads completely as a SP piece. When National are having to suspend its tax cuts in the future and New Zealand’s debt is rapidly increasing and unemployment is rising. Yet you expect them to put in 2 billion dollars because prices are low? Not a credible position. There is a reason the legislation Labour put into the house actually allowed for the fund to be temporarily suspended. Surely, its for these very reasons. That when government is bringing in less and less money, debt is rising and the government has less money, that the right action is to suspend contributing to the fund.

    • lprent 11.1

      Actually I suspect (from memory) that you’ll find the amount is 1 billion. 2 billion was the amount that Cullen was putting it because he was able to.

      • gingercrush 11.1.1

        No its 2 billion. Though the legislation allows for less money to be put it or even be suspended. But you have to make the repayments in the future.

  12. SPC 12

    This government was an advocate for borrowing to fund infrastructure spending.

    The OECD/IMF think well of the “Cullen Fund” and would have no problem with borrowing to fund it. It’s borrowing money to spend it that they question. They would have more problem with borrowing to finance infrastructure (less so if tax cuts were being made to necessitate doing so) than for investment in this Fund.

    Now borrowing to invest in infrastructure during a prolonged recession is classic Keynesian economics and the right thing to do. Not that the Nats like Keynes, in fact they slight this great economist as someone “anti-market”.

    The fact is Bill English led initial opposition to the Cullen Fund. Another fact is that in February “he stated” that he was committed to continued funding of the Cullen Fund and he saw good opportunities for the Cullen Fund in the current climate. No doubt the letter was written on behalf of the Minister by a memebr of staff at Treasury – but he did sign it out. The change was made at the political level and after February (should I send a copy of the February letter to Goff?).

    Highlights of the letter

    The Bill English reply to my 2008 letter on funding the Super Fund

    He says that to sustain the present level of NZ Super in the future we need to establish a reserve now to mitigate the rising cost to taxpayers. He says the government is committed to continuation of the Fund as an effective vehicle for pre-funding NZS costs.

    (All very bi-partisan in tone).

    (As to my idea of transferring state assets into the Fund rather than cash),

    he says the government will not sell state assets and says the Fund would need to be able continue trading in its assets to maximise profits – so they must reject the option of passing on state assets into the Fund

    (I suggested the Fund only off-load them in the longer term to Kiwi Saver funds so they stayed in local ownership).

    (Given todays news the most interesting thing to note is this)

    “Indeed, the Funds liquidity in a time of economic downturn is one of its advantages in the marketplace, as it is able to exploit opprotunities to acquire assets while company stock prices are low relative to future potential earnings’.

    • gingercrush 12.1

      Your Green Party are against the Cullen Fund.

      • SPC 12.1.1

        It was, is it now?

        The initial concern at the time the Cullen Fund was suggested was that we still had unemployment at high levels and we should get sufficient growth in the economy to employ more people before we saved surpluses.

        As it turned out, the international expansion of low cost credit soon solved that problem and thus the Cullen Fund was a good counter-cycle economics as well as worthy in its own right. Much of the concern was over timing (English wanted more room to deliver tax cut led growth – this could only work as a Super affordability means if Super was de-coupled from the net average wage and raised against the CPI as benefits are).

        PS I am not a Green Party member.

    • SPC 12.2

      My suggestion regarding the state assets was premised on locking up to 50% of the ownership in state assets into the Cullen Fund (in the years we did not inject cash into the Fund) and then only transferring the assets to Kiwi Saver funds when the Cullen Fund was cashing up.

      The state asset use to finance the retirement provision of New Zealanders – for some decades through subsidising the tax cost of over 65 pension super and then the private savings of New Zealanders for their retirment is much as state assets would do even if they remained in government hands directly (rather than the governments Cullen Fund vehicle or the Kiwi Saver Funds).

      Of course the other 50% of the assets would still be held by the government (in partnership with the Cullen Fund and then the various Kiwi Saver Funds). This would have made the government held 50% less able to be sold to buyers looking to takeover/control the SOE.

      It would have prevented the sale of state assets onto the market by National. I see their opposition to the idea as based on a desire to sell the assets on the open market (including foreigners).

  13. Gareth 13

    “the law says that if contributions to the fund are suspended, they have to be made up with larger contributions in the future.”
    Could you please point me in the direction of this piece of the law? Interesting, and I’d like to see what the intent is (e.g. a total of $25b invested over 25 years? a specific fund value target with assumptions around return)

  14. Gareth 14

    OK, having looked up the Act, there is no legal requirement to make up the shortfall later on at all?
    There is a stated calculation for the required capital amount, but that is followed by:

    44. Lesser amounts of annual capital contribution
    (1) If the Government intends to pay less into the Fund in any financial year than the required annual capital contribution, the Minister must include, in the fiscal strategy report prepared under Part 2 of the Public Finance Act 1989,—
    (a) the amount of the required annual capital contribution stated in the economic and fiscal update under section 42 in respect of the financial year; and
    (b) a statement of the amount of annual capital contribution actually to be paid into the Fund in that year; and
    (c) a statement of the reasons for the Government’s departure from the required annual capital contribution; and
    (d) a statement of the Government’s intentions regarding future contributions to the Fund; and
    (e) a statement of the approach the Government intends to take to ensure that the Fund will be sufficient to meet the payments of New Zealand superannuation entitlements expected to be made over the next 40-year period.

    So they need to state what they’re going to do about it, and the intent of the Act is to ensure a fully funded super plan in 40 years, but they do not legally HAVE to increase payments at a later date. Conceptually, they could claim an increase in the estimated return or a change in Super entitlements etc.
    None of this should be read as me accepting a reduction in Super contributions and it certainly is taking from future generations. But the statement about the law is incorrect.

    • SPC 14.1

      They could cut the entitlement of tax paid super back to 65% and place the amount saved with the Cullen Fund (it seems silly to pay above the 65% level now if one cannot afford the 65% payout level later because of a lack of Cullen Fund build up). The committment is to pay 65% of the net average wage now and in the future – if we cannot afford to pay above 65% and remain in surplus and or save for the future cost ….

      They could allow the Cullen Fund managers to borrow money for Fund investment when the government does not give them any or enough money. The only reason for this would be that the government would avoid the interest cost of bearing the debt and the cost of the debt would be easily covered by the dividends earned each year by the Cullen Fund). The downside would be less return for the Fund, the upside – at least they have money to buy assets while they are cheap (and buying now, even on borrowed money, is when you are not selling for 20 years going to result in a positive return).

  15. SPC 15

    Something which needs review is the misleading way the government accounts are presented in the media – shown to be in a $7.7 billion deficit for the 9 month period (after a pre-election forecast of a surplus).

    The way our accounts operate (including rise and fall in assets) the surplus in any growth period is exaggerated by a rise in asset values and any decline in asset values exacerbates the result in a recession. The extent of this swing, to and fro, is only going to increase with the increasing value of the assets funds.

    Already we have witnessed a build up of pressure for tax cuts partly because of the former rise in the asset value funds. To the extent that the way the accounts are currently structured place governments under electoral pressure to make poor decisions, there should be a change. Otherwise the current government which now blames the former government for spending too much (and being too generous in tax cuts 2008-2011?) might now over-react in the recession (as asset values fall) and make poor decisions on government spending levels.

    The important fact before making spending and revenue decisions is the long term trend and this should be made as clear as possible to the public.

    So there should be an attempt to use a simpler form of presentation the public.

    A financial statement – (government/household) budget in surplus or deficit.

    A balance sheet (assets/debts) – net gain/loss (Funds).

    ACC and the SOE reflect the “gray” area. Asset valuation and operating results needing to be separated.

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    When I was invited to come aboard and help with Greater Auckland a few months ago (thanks to Patrick!), it was suggested it might be a good idea to write some sort of autobiographical post by way of an introduction. This post isn’t quite that – although I’m sure I’lll ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    3 days ago
  • Turning Away – Who Cares If We Don't?
    On the turning awayFrom the pale and downtroddenAnd the words they say which we won't understandDon't accept that, what's happeningIs just a case of other's sufferingOr you'll find that you're joining inThe turning awayToday’s guest kōrero is from Author Catherine Lea. So without further ado, over to Catherine…I’m so honoured ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    3 days ago
  • Dissecting Tickled
    Hi,Tickled was one of the craziest things that ever happened to me (and I feel like a lot of crazy things have happened to me).So ahead of the Webworm popup and Tickled screening in New Zealand on July 13, I thought I’d write about how we made that film and ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand Webworm Popup + Tickled!
    Hi,I’m doing a Webworm merch popup followed by a Tickled screening in Auckland, New Zealand on July 13th — and I’d love you to come. I got the urge to do this while writing this Webworm piece breaking down how we made Tickled, and talking to all the people who ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    3 days ago
  • What China wants from NZ business
    One simple statistic said it all: China Premier Li Qiang asked Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell what percentage of the company’s overall sales were made in China. “Thirty per cent,” said Hurrell. In other words, New Zealand’s largest company is more or less dependent on the Chinese market. But Hurrell is ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    4 days ago
  • Review: The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison (1922)
    One occasionally runs into the question of what J.R.R. Tolkien would have thought of George R.R. Martin. For years, I had a go-to online answer: we could use a stand-in. Tolkien’s thoughts on E.R. Eddison – that he appreciated the invented world, but thought the invented names were silly, and ...
    4 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24
    A listing of 35 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 9, 2024 thru Sat, June 15, 2024. Story of the week A glance at this week's inventory of what experts tell us is extreme weather mayhem juiced by ...
    4 days ago
  • Sunday Morning Chat
    After a busy week it’s a good day to relax. Clear blues skies here in Tamaki Makaurau, very peaceful but for my dogs sleeping heavily. In the absence of a full newsletter I thought I’d send out a brief update and share a couple of posts that popped up in ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • The Book of Henry
    Now in the land of Angus beef and the mighty ABsWhere the steaks were juicy and the rivers did run foulIt would often be said,This meal is terrible,andNo, for real this is legit the worst thing I've ever eatenBut this was an thing said only to others at the table,not ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    4 days ago
  • Fact Brief – Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from the Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Is ocean acidification from human ...
    5 days ago
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
    She's not a girl who misses muchDo do do do do do, oh yeahShe's well-acquainted with the touch of the velvet handLike a lizard on a window paneI wouldn’t associate ACT with warmth, other than a certain fabled, notoriously hot, destination where surely they’re heading and many would like them ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Still doing a good 20
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • Coalition of the Unwilling?
    What does Budget 2024 tell us about the current government? Muddle on?Coalition governments are not new. About 50 percent of the time since the first MMP election, there has been a minority government, usually with allied parties holding ministerial portfolios outside cabinets. For 10 percent of the time there was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    6 days ago
  • Of red flags and warning signs in comments on social media
    Somewhat surprisingly for what is regarded as a network of professionals, climate science misinformation is getting shared on LinkedIn, joining other channels where this is happening. Several of our recent posts published on LinkedIn have attracted the ire of various commenters who apparently are in denial about human-caused climate change. Based ...
    6 days ago
  • All good, still
    1. On what subject is Paul Henry even remotely worth giving the time of day?a. The state of our nationb. The state of the ACT partyc. How to freak out potential buyers of your gin palace by baking the remains of your deceased parent into its fittings2. Now that New ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • The looting is the point
    Last time National was in power, they looted the state, privatising public assets and signing hugely wasteful public-private partnership (PPP) contracts which saw foreign consortiums provide substandard infrastructure while gouging us for profits. You only have to look at the ongoing fiasco of Transmission Gully to see how it was ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The Illusion of Power: How Local Government Bureaucrats Overawe Democratically-Elected Councillors..
    The Democratic Façade Of Local Government: Our district and city councillors are democratically elected to govern their communities on one very strict condition – that they never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to do so.A DISINTEGRATION OF LOYALTIES on the Wellington City Council has left Mayor Tory Whanau without a ...
    6 days ago
  • Lowlights & Bright Spots
    I can feel the lowlights coming over meI can feel the lowlights, from the state I’m inI can see the light now even thought it’s dimA little glow on the horizonAnother week of lowlights from our government, with the odd bright spot and a glow on the horizon. The light ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Weekly Roundup 14-June-2024
    Another week, another roundup of things that caught our eye on our favourite topics of transport, housing and how to make cities a little bit greater. This Week in Greater Auckland On Monday, Connor wrote about Kāinga Ora’s role as an urban development agency Tuesday’s guest post by ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    6 days ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 14
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s moves this week to take farming out of the ETS and encourage more mining and oil and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Climate policy axed in broad daylight, while taxpayer liabilities grow in the dark
    In 2019, Shane Jones addressed the “50 Shades of Green” protest at Parliament: Now he is part of a government giving those farmers a pass on becoming part of the ETS, as well as threatening to lock in offshore oil exploration and mining for decades. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Here’s the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Rage Bait!
    Hi,Today’s newsletter is all about how easy it is to get sucked into “rage bait” online, and how easy it is to get played.But first I wanted to share something that elicited the exact opposite of rage in me — something that made me feel incredibly proud, whilst also making ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Friday, June 14
    Seymour said lower speed limits “drained the joy from life as people were forced to follow rules they knew made no sense.” File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Friday, June 14 were:The National/ACT/NZ First ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Friendly but frank talks with China Premier
    It sounded like the best word to describe yesterday’s talks between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and his heavyweight delegation of Ministers and officials and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and New Zealand Ministers and officials was “frank.” But it was the kind of frankness that friends can indulge in. It ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2024
    Open access notables Wildfire smoke impacts lake ecosystems, Farruggia et al., Global Change Biology: We introduce the concept of the lake smoke-day, or the number of days any given lake is exposed to smoke in any given fire season, and quantify the total lake smoke-day exposure in North America from 2019 ...
    7 days ago
  • Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live
    Photo by Mathias Elle on UnsplashIt’s that new day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for our chat about the week’s news with special guests:5.00 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • Geoffrey Miller: China’s message to New Zealand – don’t put it all at risk
    Don’t put it all at risk. That’s likely to be the take-home message for New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in his meetings with Li Qiang, the Chinese Premier. Li’s visit to Wellington this week is the highest-ranking visit by a Chinese official since 2017. The trip down under – ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    7 days ago
  • The Real Thing
    I know the feelingIt is the real thingThe essence of the soulThe perfect momentThat golden momentI know you feel it tooI know the feelingIt is the real thingYou can't refuse the embraceNo?Sometimes we face the things we most dislike. A phobia or fear that must be confronted so it doesn’t ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on how moderates empower the political right
    Struth, what a week. Having made sure the rural sector won’t have to pay any time soon for its pollution, PM Christopher Luxon yesterday chose Fieldays 2024 to launch a parliamentary inquiry into rural banking services, to see how the banks have been treating farmers faced with high interest rates. ...
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Thursday, June 13
    In April, 17,656 people left Aotearoa-NZ to live overseas, averaging 588 a day, with just over half of those likely to have gone to Australia. Photo: Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Thursday, June 13 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Our guide to having your say on the draft RLTP 2024
    Auckland’s draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) 2024 is open for feedback – and you only have until Monday 17 June to submit. Do it! Join the thousands of Aucklanders who are speaking up for wise strategic investment that will dig us out of traffic and give us easy and ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    1 week ago
  • The China puzzle
    Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrives in Wellington today for a three-day visit to the country. The visit will take place amid uncertainty about the future of the New Zealand-China relationship. Li hosted a formal welcome and then lunch for then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in Beijing a year ago. The pair ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Fossil fuels are shredding our democracy
    This is a re-post of an article from the Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler published on June 3, 2024. I have an oped in the New York Times (gift link) about this. For a long time, a common refrain about the energy transition was that renewable energy needed to become ...
    1 week ago
  • Life at 20 kilometres an hour
    We are still in France, getting from A to B.Possibly for only another week, though; Switzerland and Germany are looming now. On we pedal, towards Budapest, at about 20 km per hour.What are are mostly doing is inhaling a country, loving its ways and its food. Rolling, talking, quietly thinking. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Hipkins is still useless
    The big problem with the last Labour government was that they were chickenshits who did nothing with the absolute majority we had given them. They governed as if they were scared of their own shadows, afraid of making decisions lest it upset someone - usually someone who would never have ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Exercising with the IDF.
    This morning I did something I seldom do, I looked at the Twitter newsfeed. Normally I take the approach of something that I’m not sure is an American urban legend, or genuinely something kids do over there. The infamous bag of dog poo on the front porch, set it on ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Helm Hammerhand Anime: First Pictures and an Old English ‘Hera’
    We have some news on the upcoming War of the Rohirrim anime. It will apparently be two and a half hours in length, with Peter Jackson as Executive Producer, and Helm’s daughter Hera will be the main character. Also, pictures: The bloke in the middle picture is Freca’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Farmers get free pass on climate AND get subsidies
    The cows will keep burping and farting and climate change will keep accelerating - but farmers can stop worrying about being included in the ETS. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Wednesday, June 12 were:The ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Six ideas to secure Te Huia’s Future
    This is a guest post by our friend Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which features “musings about public transport and other cool stuff in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and around the globe.” With Te Huia now having funding secure through to 2026, now is ...
    Greater AucklandBy Darren Davis
    1 week ago
  • The methane waka sinks
    In some ways, there may be less than meets the eye to the Government announcement yesterday that the He Waka Eke Noa proposal for farmers to pay for greenhouse gas emissions has been scrapped. The spectre of farmers still having to pay at some point in the future remains. That, ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • At a glance – Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming?
    On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Farmers get what they wanted – for now
    Since entering office, National has unravelled practically every climate policy, leaving us with no effective way of reducing emissions or meeting our emissions budgets beyond magical thinking around the ETS. And today they've announced another step: removing agriculture entirely. At present, following the complete failure of he waka eka noa, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Presumed Innocent?
    The blue billionaireDistraction no interactionOr movement outside these glazed over eyesThe new great divideFew fight the tide to be glorifiedBut will he be satisfied?Can we accept this without zoom?The elephant in the roomNot much happens in politics on a Monday. Bugger all in fact. Although yesterday Christopher Luxon found he ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on our doomed love affair with oil and gas
    What if New Zealand threw a fossil fuel party, and nobody came? On the weekend, Resources Minister Shane Jones sent out the invitations and strung up the balloons, but will anyone really want to invest big time in resuming oil and gas exploration in our corner of the planet? Yes, ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    1 week ago
  • Building better housing insights
    This is a guest post by Meredith Dale, senior urban designer and strategist at The Urban Advisory. There’s a saying that goes something like: ‘what you measure is what you value’. An RNZ article last week claimed that Auckland was ‘hurting’ because of a more affordable supply of homes, particularly townhouses ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • Putin would be proud of them
    A Prime Minister directs his public service to inquire into the actions of the opposition political party which is his harshest critic. Something from Orban's Hungary, or Putin's Russia? No, its happening right here in Aotearoa: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced the Public Service Commission will launch an ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths
    This is a repost from a Yale Climate Connections article by SueEllen Campbell published on June 3, 2024. The articles listed can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to solar and wind energy. Some statements you hear about solar and wind energy are just plain false. ...
    1 week ago
  • Juggernaut
    Politics were going on all around us yesterday, and we barely noticed, rolling along canal paths, eating baguettes. It wasn’t until my mate got to the headlines last night that we learned there had been a dismayingly strong far right result in the EU elections and Macron had called a ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Numbers Game.
    Respect Existence, Or Expect Resistance? There may well have been 50,000 pairs of feet “Marching For Nature” down Auckland’s Queen Street on Saturday afternoon, but the figure that impresses the Coalition Government is the 1,450,000 pairs of Auckland feet that were somewhere else.IN THE ERA OF DRONES and Artificial Intelligence, ...
    1 week ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on post-colonial blowback.
    Selwyn Manning and I discuss varieties of post colonial blowback and the implications its has for the rise of the Global South. Counties discussed include Palestine/Israel, France/New Caledonia, England/India, apartheid/post-apartheid South Africa and post-colonial New Zealand. It is a bit … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Policy by panic
    Back in March, Ombudsman Peter Boshier resigned when he hit the statutory retirement age of 72, leaving the country in the awkward (and legally questionable) position of having him continue as a temporay appointee. It apparently took the entire political system by surprise - as evinced by Labour's dick move ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • PSA: NZ's Richest Company, Zuru, Sucks
    Hi,Today the New Zealand press is breathlessly reporting that the owners of toy company Zuru are officially New Zealand’s wealthiest people: Mat and Nick Mowbray worth an estimated $20 billion between them.While the New Zealand press loses its shit celebrating this Kiwi success story, this is a Webworm reminder that ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 10
    TL;DR: The six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty in the past day to 8:36 pm on Monday, June 10 were:20,000 protested against the Fast-track approval bill on Saturday in Auckland, but PM Christopher Luxon says ‘sorry, but not sorry’ about the need for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago

  • School attendance increases
    School attendance data released today shows an increase in the number of students regularly attending school to 61.7 per cent in term one. This compares to 59.5 per cent in term one last year and 53.6 per cent in term four. “It is encouraging to see more children getting to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Record investment in public transport services
    The Government has announced a record 41 per cent increase in indicative funding for public transport services and operations, and confirmed the rollout of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS) that will enable contactless debit and credit card payments starting this year in Auckland, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“This Government is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • GDP data shows need to strengthen and grow the economy
    GDP figures for the March quarter reinforce the importance of restoring fiscal discipline to public spending and driving more economic growth, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  Data released today by Stats NZ shows GDP has risen 0.2 per cent for the quarter to March.   “While today’s data is technically in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Women continue to make up over 50 per cent on public sector boards
    Women’s representation on public sector boards and committees has reached 50 per cent or above for the fourth consecutive year, with women holding 53.9 per cent of public sector board roles, Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston says. “This is a fantastic achievement, but the work is not done. To ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Government supporting Māori business success
    The Coalition Government is supporting Māori to boost development and the Māori economy through investment in projects that benefit the regions, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka say. “As the Regional Development Minister, I am focused on supporting Māori to succeed. The Provincial Growth Fund ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Better solutions for earthquake-prone buildings
    Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk has announced that the review into better managing the risks of earthquake-prone buildings has commenced. “The terms of reference published today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring we get the balance right between public safety and costs to building owners,” Mr Penk says.  “The Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • Prime Minister wraps up visit to Japan
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has just finished a successful three-day visit to Japan, where he strengthened political relationships and boosted business links. Mr Luxon’s visit culminated in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio followed by a state dinner. “It was important for me to meet Prime Minister Kishida in person ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Major business deals signed on PM’s Japan trip
    Significant business deals have been closed during the visit of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to Japan this week, including in the areas of space, renewable energy and investment.  “Commercial deals like this demonstrate that we don’t just export high-quality agricultural products to Japan, but also our world-class technology, expertise, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Strategic Security speech, Tokyo
    Minasan, konnichiwa, kia ora and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and thank you to our friends at the Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies and NEC for making this event possible today.  It gives me great pleasure to be here today, speaking with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline worth over $120 billion
    The National Infrastructure Pipeline, which provides a national view of current or planned infrastructure projects, from roads, to water infrastructure, to schools, and more, has climbed above $120 billion, Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop says. “Our Government is investing a record amount in modern infrastructure that Kiwis can rely on as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Making it easier to build infrastructure
    The Government is modernising the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information Chris Penk announced today. An independent panel will undertake an eight-week review of the Act and advise on common sense changes to enable large scale public works to be built faster and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ enhances North Korea sanctions monitoring
    New Zealand will enhance its defence contributions to monitoring violations of sanctions against North Korea, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced today.  The enhancement will see the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) increase its contributions to North Korea sanctions monitoring, operating out of Japan. “This increase reflects the importance New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech to Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference
    Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be with you all today before we wrap up Day One of the annual Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference. Thank you to the organisers and sponsors of this conference, for the chance to talk to you about the upcoming health and safety consultation. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Ōtaki to north of Levin alliance agreements signed
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed an important milestone for the Ōtaki to north of Levin Road of National Significance (RoNS), following the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) signing interim alliance agreements with two design and construction teams who will develop and ultimately build the new expressway.“The Government’s priority for transport ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Improvements to stopping Digital Child Exploitation
    The Department of Internal Affairs [Department] is making a significant upgrade to their Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material, says Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden.  “The Department will incorporate the up-to-date lists of websites hosting child sexual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New vaccine research aims to combat prevalent bovine disease
    A vaccine to prevent an infectious disease that costs New Zealand cattle farmers more than $190 million each year could radically improve the health of our cows and boost on-farm productivity, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard says. The Ministry for Primary Industries is backing a project that aims to develop ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Making it easier to build granny flats
    The Government has today announced that it is making it easier for people to build granny flats, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop say. “Making it easier to build granny flats will make it more affordable for families to live the way that suits them ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
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