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The mess that the new government inherits

Written By: - Date published: 11:47 am, October 23rd, 2017 - 51 comments
Categories: accountability, climate change, Dirty Politics, Economy, economy, education, Environment, global warming, health, housing, labour, national, poverty, useless, water - Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This post is too long to read. Its purpose is to serve as reference material, a “one stop” snapshot of where we are as a country. The mess that the new government inherits. The consequences of the nine long wasted years of National. The magnitude of the challenge ahead of us.

I hope that it will serve as a useful source for other authors or anyone trying to deal with the onslaught of lies and spin that will be flung at the new government. It’s not finished, I just ran out of steam, sorry ’bout that.


I’ll spend longest on “the economy”, because that’s the area where the new government is most likely to be attacked.

Having been left in a strong position by the previous Labour-led government (according to Bill English), the Nats promised an “aggressive” recovery, that we would be “roaring out of recession”. What happened was the opposite.

I summed up National’s first three years here:
How we got where we are
Also worth remembering from our archives, the near double dip recession, the rising unemployment, the credit downgrades, the fall in the dollar and the like:
Roaring out of recession
National cause of dire economy
English lashes out
Key’s economic bravado now reduced to whining
Excuses excuses

In short, National delivered us the slowest recovery from recession in the last 50 years. The “growth” that we do have is mostly just a reflection of increasing population / immigration, in per capita terms we’re almost standing still. Our productivity is weak. It’s a debt fueled housing bubble fueled accident waiting to happen.

To the extent that the economy did recover it did so not because of the Nats, but in spite of them. As usual the fruits of the recovery went to the rich, not to wage earners. The multiple failures of the neoliberal paradigm.

Anyway, here’s what’s in the news at the time of the incoming government of 2017:

The state of the economy the new govt inherits

Opinion is divided between economists on whether the country is heading for an economic slowdown or just taking a breather for another period of solid growth.

Certainly, economic growth has settled. A year ago the economy was growing at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, driven by a booming construction sector, record immigration and record numbers of tourists. That’s slowed to 2.5 percent in the June quarter, but foreign visitors and settlers are still providing the momentum.

The end of last year and the start of 2017 were on soft side, with the building industry finding it tougher to find staff to get jobs done, and some projects being delayed because they have become uneconomic.

Business and consumer confidence have taken a hit in recent months. The NZ Institute of Economic Research’s quarterly business survey of business opinion slipped 10 points to a net 7 percent optimism level, with everything from bad weather, politics, to a weaker housing market being blamed. But it’s not universal, worker confidence has perked up to its highest level in nearly a decade.

Growth in house prices has fallen to around 2 percent in the past year from 10 percent, which reflects Auckland’s market slowing, but homeowners are still sitting on solid gains and are still showing confidence about buying big ticket items.

The economic pie has been inflated by the record immigration, which has stoked domestic demand and consumption, although the share of the pie per head of population rose less than 1 percent in the year to June.

Wages have risen on average 1.6 percent in the past year, just keeping pace with inflation, but unless workers are in a sought-after trade or sector, the chances of significant rises are limited.

Slowing, even falling, house prices makes consumers cautious about spending, and reduced immigration keeps a lid on the services sector.

“There are risks to the economy and they are a little bit to the downside, from slower housing, reduced immigration, and other drivers such as construction that are peaking,” said ANZ senior economist Phil Borkin. …

Pattrick Smellie: On whose watch does the rock star economy give up?

Whoever forms a government this week, they may come to curse the timing. After a long, robust run, there are signs of a slowdown in the New Zealand economy.

The 2.5 per cent annual growth rate achieved in the year to June, and announced in the last week of the election campaign, was unexceptional by the standards of the last five years. It should arguably have been ammunition for the Opposition parties in the lead-up to polling day but, oddly, they failed to bite.

The factors are mainly domestic. If anything, the global economy is performing a little better now than it has been.

But in New Zealand, there’s mounting evidence that the two main sources of recent economic strength – housing and inward migration – have run their course, at least for the moment.

If Jacinda Ardern became prime minister and the economy tanked, she might get an unfair amount of the blame.

So, for a new government of any political stripe, there are political risks in this somewhat less vibrant domestic economic environment.

It will be all too easy to blame political change rather than economic circumstances if, by Christmas, the shine seems to be coming off the rock-star economy. …

Nation of Debt: Half a trillion dollars and still rising

Our national debt has topped half a trillion dollars and is still rising, despite signs that the pace of borrowing is starting to ease.

The Herald has tallied the country’s total gross debt – combining household, business, agricultural, central and local government debt.

The grand total of $528.7 billion is up 7.3 per cent from a year ago.

The latest Reserve Bank figures (for the year to April 30) show household debt has topped $250b, driven by rising property prices and an increase in consumer borrowing. That’s an increase of more than 60 per cent in 10 years.

As well as continuing vulnerability to international shocks, New Zealand now faces a risk to economic growth as the borrowing trend slows, Ranchhod says.

“With interest rates set to continue gradually rising over the coming years, we expect house price inflation will remain modest through 2017 and 2018. That’s likely to continue dampening credit growth, and will weigh on spending and economic activity more generally.” …

Liam Dann: Next Government must be ready for a market crash

It’s hard to know if all the turmoil of global politics has eased off in the past few weeks or if I have become more numb to it.

The risk of a crash is always lurking though. Timing is the thing, not predicting that the boom times will end.

There’s always an end.

Immigration shows signs of slowing

Immigration has come down from its record peak, with one economist saying the economy could slow as a result.

The country’s economic growth in recent years had been largely due to high immigration, so a slow-down in those numbers could also slow the economy, Mr Stephens said.

“[High immigration] has led to some distributional issues with a lot of low-skill immigration coming in and maybe keeping low-end wages down.”

Mark Lister: Next Govt could face a rougher ride

This month we should find out what sort of Government we’re in for over the next three years. Someone is going to come out on the wrong side of the negotiations, and it may not be a terrible battle to lose.

The economy has been running hot over the past few years, but this might be coming to an end, regardless of potential policy change.

Migration has had a significant influence in recent years, with population growth running at the highest levels since the 1960s, boosting economic activity.

Early signs are emerging this may have peaked, such as a pickup in the number of non-residents leaving in the past few months. If this trend continues, it could dent the domestic growth story heading into 2018.

Slowing house-price inflation is another factor. Many have put recent softness down to election uncertainty but I don’t buy that entirely.

Tourism and construction also look close to their respective peaks, so it’s hard to see those sectors adding much more to the growth picture during the next three years.

None of these issues is a show-stopper on its own, but combined they could have an impact.

A few less people, sluggish house prices and a small but steady rise in borrowing costs could quite easily dent our outlook.

If it all pans out that way, the tax take could end up a little lower than expected, making the government books look less rosy. We’d see some heat come out of the NZ dollar, adding to price pressures on things like fuel.

Who wants to preside over an economic slowdown, rising interest rates, a housing market that’s run out of puff and missing your surplus forecasts?

Brian Fallow: Future written in red ink

Want to cheer yourself down? Take a look at the Treasury’s newly updated projections for the long-run outlook for the Government’s finances.

What the Treasury officials do is take existing policy settings as given, then make projections about big drivers like the age structure of the population and labour productivity growth. They assume the tax take relative to the size of the economy will remain about where it is (29 per cent of gross domestic product).

Then they extrapolate forward, to see what happens to big fiscal numbers like the primary balance (revenue minus spending, excluding interest costs) and the size of the public debt.

It is OK for a few years and then it gets ugly. … if nothing changes on the policy front, and if the projection’s assumptions hold good, we would be looking at a primary deficit of 4 per cent of GDP in 30 years’ time and net debt of 94 per cent of GDP.

That sort of trajectory is not remotely sustainable, especially when most NZ government debt is held by non-residents and the household sector is up to its nostrils in debt.

The projections also assume labour productivity will improve at an average annual rate of 1.5 per cent. Unfortunately, the average over the past decade was just 0.9 per cent. The difference between 1.5 and 0.9 per cent gets pretty material if it continues, compounding for 30-40 years. …

Other recent headlines:
New Zealand’s economic growth driven almost exclusively by rising population
Nation of Debt: Ready, set, crash – could New Zealand be next to fall?
Second quarter of slow growth for economy
NZ economy grows smaller-than-expected 0.5% in 1st quarter
Higher NZ deficit disappoints and surprises banks
Big Read: Hey! Where did my pay rise go?
NZ’s weak productivity in OECD’s sights
A cure for a productivity recession
Economy not meeting the needs of working people – where is the Governments strategy?
Our environment’s crucial role in the economy
NZ economy growing, but house prices a risk – OECD report
Prime Minister Bill English admits wage growth isn’t ‘hot’
NZ’s wealth divide continues to grow – report
NZ’s Rich List revealed: ‘The rich are getting richer – there’s no question about that’
The rich are getting richer
Is National really better than Labour with the Government books? Well, not really
National and Labour’s nine years in charge – what the data shows

Housing and homelessness

Current warnings:

Goldman Sachs: New Zealand houses most over-valued

Investment bank Goldman Sachs says there is a 40 per cent chance New Zealand will suffer a housing market “bust” in the next two years.

It has put out a report that looks at housing markets in the G-10 countries, according to Bloomberg. It reportedly found New Zealand’s was the most over-valued and at risk of correction. …

Home buyer ‘heartbreak’: Struggle for finance as banks tighten belts

Tighter lending restrictions means more “heartbreak” for home buyers who are seeing sale and purchase agreements on a new house fall over at the last minute when they are unable to get finance.

Sales nationwide have been sluggish, listings are down and sale times have been extended, says the head of one of the country’s larger real estate firms – Century 21.

Meanwhile, anecdotally the property market has seen a rise in the number of Kiwis unable to go through with a conditional offer on a house as lenders err on the side of caution and refuse finance.

Auckland house values fall: lack of finance blamed

Auckland’s housing market stalled in the last three months with property values falling by 0.6 per cent and buyers unable to get finance being blamed.

The QV House Price Index showed Auckland values only rose a meagre 0.8 per cent in the last 12 months – the slowest pace of annual growth since April 2011.

Despite the drop, the average current value now stands at $1,039,066 – putting most houses out of the reach of first-home buyers. …

Liam Dann: Housing warning for new Government in inflation stats

Inflation data out today shows the cost of construction in Auckland rising at a rate 6.8 per cent year – an ominous sign for the new Government regardless of its political colours.

Both major parties have promised historic programmes of residential construction to relieve Auckland’s housing shortage and affordability issues.

But today’s data suggests the industry is already bumping up against capacity issues, making any acceleration in building very difficult – or costly – to achieve.

The latest REINZ House Price Index showed Auckland prices down 0.7 per cent in the year to September.

It is a dynamic that adds risk around delays and timing as rising costs and stagnant prices alter the financial equations for developers and have the potential to create funding issues if they have not been adequately factored in.

It may also deter private sector developers at a time when expectations for new house building are extremely high.

With Labour in the picture the housing party is definitely over

I’m going to say it: The housing party is definitely over. It probably already was. The real estate industry claimed that the slowdown of recent months, with turnover down more than a quarter on the year before, was due to little more than pre-election uncertainty. But the change has felt more fundamental than that.

The banks have cut down their mortgage lending dramatically and borrowers have been turned away for deals that might have been a sure bet just six months or a year ago.

Loan-to-value restrictions layered on top of that bank caution kept many budding property investors out of the market, now they are required to have at least 40 per cent equity in any deal.

The current housing market conditions should be seen as the new normal for the next couple of years, at least. Whether we’re talking a plateau in prices or a more significant fall from here will remain to be seen. There are predictions of as much as 10 per cent or 13 per cent price falls over the next three years. …

Building Company Collapses Predicted

Some New Zealand construction companies will begin to fail in the next 12 months as the impacts of a new law begin to bite.

So says James MacQueen, advisory partner in the construction and real estate sector for business advisory and accountancy firm BDO. He says the sector is largely unaware of the impact of amendments to the Construction Contracts Act which came into force on March 31. …

Other recent headlines:
One in 100 Kiwis homeless, new study shows numbers quickly rising
Calls for increase in social housing as nearly half of the homeless are children
Families with children now 53% of NZ’s homeless
Calls for increase in social housing as nearly half of the homeless are children
New Zealand housing crisis forces hundreds to live in tents and garages
Work and Income sent families to garages
Minister vows to hold slumlords to account
Anger over ‘slum landlord’ Government
Housing NZ to look into slum claims
The slums of Jebson Pl
Slum warning over Auckland CBD
Government abandons social housing target of 65,000
NZ housing market crash warning
NZ house prices look set to fall 12% by 2020 as rates rise and population growth eases, Infometrics says
Urgent housing need ‘big concern going into winter’
Agency that put up rent ‘week on week’ accused of price gouging
House prices rose $90 a day outside Auckland
Will the Budget help mums and dads sleeping in cars?
Housing market could collapse on 7 percent mortgage rates
Housing affordability plummets across New Zealand
Auckland housing affordability tumbles
Housing affordability ‘crisis point’
Auckland houses ‘severely unaffordable’
‘I see no way of ever being able to own my own home’
Loans for first homes jump 43% in 2 years
NZ ‘half a million houses’ short
Auckland needs to double number of new homes – data
Young house hunters should just give up
New HAM measure is powerful but won’t stop the spin
Homelessness to reach a new crisis point this winter
Fast-growing numbers of homeless putting pressure on freedom camping
Housing New Zealand waiting list quadruples in Palmerston North
Homeless families: ‘We’ve got nowhere to send them’
No further homeless policies needed – Govt


Recent headlines:
New Zealand’s most shameful secret: ‘We have normalised child poverty’
Most homeless are working poor – Otago Uni
Number of New Zealand children hospitalised with malnutrition doubles as food costs bite
Poverty NZ’s ‘new normal’ – report
Working poor at ‘crisis’ point
A third of NZ children live in poverty
Research finds pockets of extreme poverty
Third world diseases affecting NZ children, says doctor
Housing crisis blamed for Auckland’s rheumatic fever rates
Findings on disease rate ‘a disgrace’
Shock look at NZ’s child poverty
Poverty blamed for leap in infectious disease admissions
Disease figures a national ’embarrassment’
Auckland homelessness: Rough sleepers tally doubles
Demand high at Auckland City Mission
Hamilton plan to ban rough sleeping
Big hike in food parcel demand – Salvation Army
Work and Income sent families to garages
A week at Te Puea (and Marae has fears of ‘smear campaign’)
Steep rise in child poverty
Income inequality: How NZ is one of the worst in the world

I used to write a series called Poverty Watch.


Think of your health when voting this September, nurses urge

New Zealanders are being asked to think of the health system when they cast a vote this September. A nurses’ union released an open letter saying “it’s getting harder to do the work that we trained for”.

“Health underfunding means that sometimes we’re not able to give you the best. We are often short-staffed, rushed, and need a little more time to give you care,” the letter says.

“We are sad sometimes because of what we couldn’t do for your tamariki, your grandparents or your neighbour. Many of you are feeling frustrated by delays in getting the healthcare you deserve and expect. We are frustrated, too.”

The letter tells voters who they back is a personal choice and doesn’t name any political parties, but makes clear the organisation’s position that health funding is not adequate under the National-led Government. …

Frustration, disappointment over health funding in Budget 2017

Patients and healthcare workers say they have been left frustrated and disappointed by “inadequate” funding for health in the 2017 Budget.

They said the Government’s announcements on Thursday would not go nearly far enough in addressing concerns about overworked staff, access to new medicines, and access to mental health treatment.

The Government said total health spending would be a record $16.77 billion in 2017/18 – an increase of $879 million, with an overall increase of $3.9b over the next four years.

However, the record claim does not take inflation into account, and sidesteps the fact that almost half the spending will go toward mandated wage increases as part of the pay equity settlement. …

Study shows ‘damning’ level of unmet health care need.

“The Government needs to demonstrate its commitment to the health of all New Zealanders by addressing the high levels of unmet health need as a matter of priority.”

Nurses spending their own money to help patients – union.

“The Nurses Organisation says hospital patients are soiling themselves because there aren’t enough nurses to help them to the bathroom.”

Leaked document shows 10 District Health Boards face budget cuts: King.

“Labour claims that health has been underfunded to the tune of $1.7 billion over the last five years…”

Researchers claim NZ health budget declining, publicly-funded surgery on way out.

“New Zealand’s health budget has been declining for almost a decade and could signal health reforms akin to the sweeping changes of the 1990s, new research claims.”

Families’ despair as hospitals face severe shortages for acute mental health treatment.

“Hospital beds for people suffering from extreme mental distress are stretched to breaking point, with double as many people being seen for crisis assessments as there are bed nights available.”

Auckland’s crumbling mental health services.

“The problem was a lack of funding as more people accessed mental health services and Auckland struggled with an increasing population and rising house prices…”

Thousands of patients going without hospital care, figures show.

“Dr Mackay says funding levels for health are a “disaster waiting to happen…””

Call to government to address rural health crisis.

“Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), representing over 40 rural based organisations, says the country’s rural health and social workforce is in crisis.”

Patients turned away.

“Nearly a third of orthopaedic patients referred for a first specialist assessment are being turned away from Dunedin Hospital, and the situation is becoming “untenable”…”

Despite denials, poor service plagues our health system.

“New Zealand’s public health system, which was once the pride of the developed world, is clearly ailing.”

New Zealand’s declining health care system is slipping behind other countries’.

“Our national health system was once the envy of the world; it is no longer. The facts show that we underperform in many areas.”

Other recent headlines:
Serious mental health shortcomings exposed in Auditor-General report
Mental health wards ‘discharging people to caravan parks’
Teens waiting more than eight weeks to get mental health care
Children forced to wait more than a year for dental check-up
Blow to 400 patients as cancer nurse funds axed
Auckland’s crumbling mental health services
Chch mental health funding slashed despite overwhelming demand
Chch mental health cuts ‘put lives at risk’
Mental health services facing cutbacks (ODT)
Cuts to mental health acute care ill-advised say psychiatrists
Coleman’s cuts create crisis
The stark reality: New Zealand no longer has a functioning Mental Health Service
Half a million Kiwis not receiving healthcare because of cost


Dumbing down a generation: Performance of NZ schoolchildren plummeting
NZ 10-year-olds worst at maths in English-speaking world
Children’s learning not improving under National Standards measurements
The trouble with NZ’s primary schools
What PISA tells us about grade inflation in NCEA
Why no one wants to teach in New Zealand
National standards pass rates plateau as distress rises
Tertiary enrolments fall as cost of living rises
Schools to axe core subjects as shortage of specialist teachers reaches ‘crisis point’
Education funding cuts laid bare
Hundreds of schools over capacity or at risk of overcrowding
NZ tumbles in education ranking
Teachers’ unions warn strikes over pay likely in 2018
Immigration scam: ‘Corruption, organised crime’ with student visas
NZ dream turns to nightmare for international students
Student visa fraud: ‘It’s not about education’
Student visa scam – It’s the tip of the iceberg
The Big Read: The $25 million student funding scandal
More tertiary providers under investigation by Serious Fraud Office


Water infrastructure needs billions in investment
‘Damning’ rivers and lakes report: Nitrogen levels rising, fish threatened
NZ needs to act now on rivers, top official warns
Dairy continues to damage water quality
North Canterbury drinking water making people sick, residents say
New water guidelines labelled “sneaky backdoor attack”
Federated Farmers: It’s damn lies and alternative facts
When the river runs dry: The true cost of NZ water
National is ruining our rivers
Majority of waterways not covered by freshwater policy
Diving into the muddy water of ‘swimmable’
Unswimmable lagoon now deemed swimmable under revised standards
Fourth group quits water forum
Dirty water: Swimmers warned off beaches
Gastro outbreak hits Hawke’s Bay
‘Widespread’ vomiting and diarrhoea gastro outbreak in Havelock North
Animal faeces in water supply may be causing Havelock North gastro outbreak
Gastro bug in Hawke’s Bay water may have claimed a life
About $19b of property at risk from climate change effects
The great climate change rort
ETS proposals ‘last nail in coffin’ – expert


Current warnings:

Living in New Zealand now even more expensive – especially if you are poor

The release of the September Consumer Price Index (CPI) by Statistics New Zealand shows that incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living. “Prices are rising faster than wages, and some of the biggest price rises are basic necessities for the lowest paid” said Sam Huggard, Council of Trade Unions Secretary.

Prices rose 1.9 percent in the last year, mostly driven by the escalating cost of food and housing. “Food and shelter are the most basic and unavoidable costs, but they make up a bigger percentage of the budget for families earning the least” Mr Huggard said. “Even petrol prices have risen faster than most costs and wages over the last year. Those who are struggling to get by are trying to keep up with higher relative inflation than people who have a bit more financial flexibility.”

Full Statistics New Zealand figures are available at www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/economic_indicators/CPI_inflation/ConsumersPriceIndex_HOTPSep17qtr.aspx

Gordon Campbell on the Peters/Ardern triumph

In reality of course, Labour /NZF have absolutely nothing to learn from National when it comes down to economic management. The last time Labour was in power it ran nine years of surpluses and – rather than spend up large – it paid down government debt to an extent that enabled New Zealand to survive the Global Financial Crisis in good shape. What Labour/NZF have inherited is nine years of National’s neglect of glaring social problems and inequalities. That will require government spending, to redress the social deficit. That’s a good thing – and the stimulation is likely to be useful in the context of a slowing economy. The work of renewal begins immediately. …

Jacinda Ardern upbeat but ‘inheriting a lot of problems’

Clark said the incoming goverment would be different from National because it had an explicit commitment to a fairer New Zealand including addressing key issues such as housing, mental health and water quality.

“They have challenges but I’m absolutely confident they will be focused on fixing those problems.”

“Jacinda, Winston Peters and the Greens, they inherit a lot of problems. Who would have thought in our lifetimes we would see home ownership in New Zealand fall to 50 percent. Who would’ve thought we’d see the degree of homelessness. Who’d have thought we would see what’s happening to our water and the level of pollution.”

“So they have challenges but I’m absolutely confident that they will be focussed on fixing those problems.” …

And the rest:
Duncan Garner: After nine years in power, why is National’s report card so full of fails?
Climate change is coming for the economy, and New Zealand needs to adapt
Politics in crisis and trust issues: How Kiwis feel about how the country is run
‘This community is in crisis’ – Northland community leader calls for State of Emergency over deprivation
NZ ranked near bottom on children’s rights
New Zealand tumbles down the political corruption table
High-profile deals behind corruption slide – report
Official crime stats reveal burglaries and crime rising
Food bank pantries bare, emergency food grant dropping – report
CYF facing ‘unfunded cost pressures’ of millions, Government admits
Lifeline faces closure as Government rejects pleas for funding
Suicide rates highest since records began
NZ suicide stats highest ever recorded
The highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world
The Horror of NZ’s Suicide Rates
Prime Minister Bill English ‘puzzled’ by high numbers out of work and education
Bill English describes some Kiwis looking for work as ‘pretty damned hopeless’

The culture that National leaves behind:
How much information is being withheld from us?
National’s long history of intimidation
Another term of Nats bad news for democracy
Nats – lousy at government – “brilliant” at opposition
Joyce’s fiscal hole lie
Dirty politics

There’s – quite a lot for the new government to deal with…

51 comments on “The mess that the new government inherits ”

  1. Bill 1

    Bloody ‘ell!

    And the Encyclopedic Post Award goes to…. 🙂

  2. Ed 2

    Thank you for your time and effort.

  3. Venezia 3

    A huge thank you for this Anthony Robins.

  4. red-blooded 4

    And we’re already hearing the rumblings and grumblings from those who want us to believe that National have been “sound” and “fiscally prudent” and “business friendly” and (ridiculously) that they’ve had a good record in terms of paying off debt. THEY sure as hell weren’t blamed when the economy slid straight after they were elected (yes, I know, GFC – but they also spent years and years and years blaming all problems on the previous Labour led government, to the point that most of our journalists seem to have bought that line now). They slashed funding to health, education, DOC and other government responsibilities, reduced business and government contributions to Kiwisaver, stopped investing in the superannuation fund (despite the fact that this didn’t make economic sense) and prioritised tax cuts over their core government responsibilities.

    Good luck to the new government. They won’t get everything right, and they’ll have to balance a lot of things up, but at least they’ll be operating from a more caring, responsible set of values. And that’s not incompatible with economic nous.

  5. simonm 5

    National spent 9 years claiming the previous Labour government was responsible for every problem that occurred during its term.

    Therefore it’s only fair that Labour should be allowed to put the blame for the myriad of disasters they’ve inherited at National’s feet for at least two terms.

  6. The Real Matthew 6

    The Labour led co-alition has inherited a dream compared to where most countries are in the world.

    We are one of the few developed countries in the world running a surplus. In the last 12 months running a 4 bilion dollar surplus and paying back 2.4 billion in debt. Our health and education systems are world class and we’ve finally found a way to increase achievement of underprivileged students via charter schools. Unemployment is less than 5% and job opportunities are everywhere you look. A government entering an almost unprecedented 4th term scored over 44%, higher than the Labour Party has managed in the history of MMP.

    I’m looking forward to The Standards appraisal of our imminent sign-up to the TPP subject to a foreign investor provisions being included. Will be fascinating to see how those who marched in the streets against this react. Also looking forward to seeing how the Kermadec marine sanctuary is resolved. I sincerely hope it happens.

    This co-alition government is already creating excuses that simply don’t stand up to analysis. It appears even they don’t believe their own policies will benefit New Zealand!

    • Macro 6.1

      What a load of nonsense.
      Still living on Planet Key I see…. and the public debt is??

    • Dv 6.2

      Charter school success rates are poorer than state school.
      Unemployment less than 5% because all you have to have is 1 hr work a week
      Education is going backwards, and health has major problems.

    • In the last 12 months running a 4 bilion dollar surplus…

      Yeah, deferred maintenance is good like that – as long as you’re only looking at the short term.

      …paying back 2.4 billion in debt.

      The people living in their cars will be impressed, I’m sure.

      Unemployment is less than 5%…

      When unemployment is genuinely below 5% there’s upward pressure on wages. When a government is scamming us that there’s low unemployment when there actually isn’t, there’s no upward pressure on wages. Haven’t noticed any upward pressure on wages recently…

      • Incognito 6.3.1

        Haven’t noticed any upward pressure on wages recently…

        You’re obviously not a CEO then 😉

        Although CEOs are not on a wage; they receive a ‘package’.

        • Foreign waka

          Or a golden handshake with amounts that any of the ordinary people only dream off winning at lotto.

    • Sacha 6.4

      “paying back 2.4 billion in debt”

      Can you provide a link for that please.

    • Zorb6 6.5

      National racked up more total borrowing in their terms than in the rest of NZ’s history.Got to well over $100 billion.Then ran an economy reliant on property inflation and immigration.Productivity has been flat for about 5 years.The FIRE economy,non productive and parasitical has boomed,but the underlying tradeable sector has been stagnant.’ In the last 12 months running a 4 bilion dollar surplus and paying back 2.4 billion in debt’…(the real Matthew)..at that rate only around 50 years including compound interest to repay it then.National never has any vision for future generations.They just kick the can down the road and let others deal with the problems they create.John Key had his 4 point plan to tackle house prices in 2007 ,10 years later he sells part of his Parnell property for way over valuation to a foreign buyer.What a payoff,what a surprise.Love to see his ‘blind’ trust investments.

    • cleangreen 6.6


      “In the last 12 months running a 4 bilion dollar surplus and paying back 2.4 billion in debt.”

      What is the crown debt total for 2016 for the last financial year as it stands now Matthew?

      How much is the “interest only” payment for that crown debt please?

      I warn you we have been advised what the interest payment is supposed to be.

  7. cleangreen 7

    Nine terrible years of destroying our beautiful country into a cesspool now is the inherence we get from National slash & burn and sell everything worth anything politics is our prize.

    I say bring them to justice.

    The new government will be opening the records and financial record books of this toxic national party and we will learn of their sabotage shortly.

  8. Stunned mullet 8

    Pathetic, the new government hasn’t even been sworn in and the apologists are already preparing excuses.

    Why not let them perform – who knows they might just surprise you.

    • The country’s economic growth has been based on high immigration, and the incoming government’s planning to cut immigration – so, yeah, they had better prep us for bad economic news, but at the same time it’ll be nice to have a government that can think past using immigration to cover the lack of economic growth.

    • cleangreen 8.2

      Stunned Mullet,

      I did also mean “all government books”, not just the treasury reports that were made public.

      But we need the full reports of all agencies of government, with full ledger of all expenditure and losses/disposals and operating deficits/surpluses as some of these agencies would not devulge those details.

      They often say “commercially sensitive information will not be released.”

      We asked for the Kiwirail full ledger of their accounnts and their were 65% redacted reports omitted.

      Oh it will be so revielling when we see them all to see the waste this last administration operated under.

  9. Tuppence Shrewsbury 9

    But new measures of things being introduced will cut the mess in half in no time

  10. Gristle 10

    Low productivity growth in NZ has been a key determinant in why the economy has struggled. Productivity is in part determined by low competition.

    Take for example KiwiSaver. Increasing the size of the funds invested does not increase the costs of the managing the funds. However, the fund managers do not drop their fees and bank ever increasing profits. This type industry institutionalises unreasonable profits. The NZ’s Goverment has a role in breaking these types situations. This could easily be done by the NZ Superfund being given the mandate to also provide services to the public. The NZ Superfund has outperformed every KiwiSaver provider. Why this hasn’t occurred is that the National Government has said it cannot compete against the private sector. In its mind, competition is only achieved through using the private sector. Where as here the industry can be reset on a lower profit expectation and greater performance expectation through getting the government involved.

    (This could occur simply by the NZ Superfund buying an existing KiwiSaver fund manager for the IT platform and customer base. Wait on it already part owns Kiwibank.)

    Looking at NZ banking and one of the prime reasons the Australian Banks dominate is that the Government refuses to further capitalise Kiwibank to allow it to expand. How many billions of dollars of profit have been unproductively stripped from NZ and been exported from NZ?

    My call to this Government is get away from the claptrap that only the private sector is productive.

    • feijoa 10.1

      I like that idea Gristle

    • Zorb6 10.2

      Of course the National Govt was against capitalising Kiwibank,funding Kiwi Saver at existing levels,and contributing to the ‘Cullen Fund’.Not only did they not initiate those schemes that keep profits in NZ for New Zealanders ,they were unpopular with foreign financiers who are extremely generous donors.I believe the ex P.M is now Chairman at ANZ ,ostensibly an Aussie bank(and a KB competitor),but in reality the major shareholders are apparantly Wall St domiciled.

  11. Macro 11

    Excellent summary r0b…
    But here are some more National disasters to add to the list…
    Mining in Schedule 4 conservation areas:
    Growing cost of inaction on Climate Change
    Increasing numbers of Unemployed people
    Here in Thames, with a population of around 7,500, over 300 people have been made redundant in the past 4 years with mill closures and A&G Price going into receivership. – But not to worry – with the roll out of Fibre optic cable we will all be able to watch netflicks and lightbox as Scott Simpson reassured us before the election.

  12. Rightly or Wrongly 12

    Yeah its disgusting how the Nats have left the economy:

    Inflation at 6% and rising
    Interest rates knocking on 8%
    Unemployment getting close to double figures.
    Budget deficits at records highs and growing.
    Sharemarket crashes a regular occurence

    Oh wait um maybe not??

    How come no mention above of the following:

    Key Government inherited a decade of budget deficits.
    Global Financial Crisis – described as worst since the great depression.
    Three of the worst earthquakes in living memory in terms of damage caused.
    Interest rates kept at historic lows.
    Inflation close to non existent.
    Unemployment at close to historic lows.
    NZ Share-market at a historic high.
    Budget surpluses increasing year by year.

    In 2008 no party left or right was promising 10/15 billion in new spending as there was no money to do so.

    2017 all parties both left and right were throwing new spending promises around as there was money in the kitty – thanks to National.

    Don’t get me wrong Key and English could have and should have done some things different but it is pretty clear that NZ Inc is in much better shape in 2017 than it was in 2008.

    Will the same be said in 2020?

    • Rob 12.1

      Yep in 2008, we had the Govt of the day proudly tell NZ that there was nothing left in the kitty for any changes as they had spent it all. Well they did manage to fit in a hip hop tour.

      Good for this new Govt to have some room to actually do something. Although the solutions coming forward to fic everything that was worng now that they are in Govt are a lot less than when they were wanting our votes, funny that.

      • Macro 12.1.1

        Well they did manage to fit in a hip hop tour.
        Which would have actually been of cultural benefit to NZers. Just because you are too old and flabby to enjoy Hip Hop doesn’t mean others can’t. Dance is a vital part of culture and has benefits for all who participate. You should try it sometime.

        Now kindly tell us how NZ benefited from the millions wasted on that sheep farm in the Saudi desert.

    • SpaceMonkey 12.2

      NZ Inc is the problem. NZ is not a bloody incorporated company. It is a nation. And as such has all the issues that go with managing a society. It’s been easy for the previous Government, or anyone for that matter, to crow about the economic success of NZ Inc as that ignores any of the social needs of anyone who falls outside of the Inc model… basically anyone who can’t contribute to it. This is reflected in the plethora of shameful headlines in Rob’s post. Bottom line is the NZ nation has been left in very poor shape by National.

    • Foreign waka 12.3

      Problem is that NZ is not an Inc at all and a country needs a leader that is able head a team with policies that includes all citizen not just the privileged few who, by might of their money blackmail the rest to comply to their ideas and ideals.
      This behavior is in no uncertain terms called a plutocracy and not democracy. But with all the comments coming now from those on the right proclaiming to be the rightful heirs it is not surprising that they do not understand these fine variances, they never will.

    • cleangreen 12.4

      What crap Rightly or wrongly,

      You carefully ‘tip toed’ over the massive Crown Debt that we will have amassed under national as we will see a full disclosure of after this week.

      Then you will have to explain why when they sold so many of those public assets we still have a balloned crown deficit that costs us $6 billion now every year just to pay interest of that money still left unpaid!!!!!

      But our crown debt is over an estimated $70 Billion Dollars still now when it was only at $8 Billlion when your infamous National party took over from Labour in 2008, so how come you omitted this in your glowing former government report card?

      Oh by the way national were working through the forced sale of all our seaports as well, so did you know this too?

    • Macro 12.5

      Well at least you get your name sort of Right – because everything you have written is total Billshit!
      I suggest “Wrongly” is a more accurate name.
      Key Government inherited a decade of budget deficits.
      This statement is a flat out lie – equivalent to the $10B hole in Joyce’s head.
      When National took control of the Beehive in 2008, debt was just over $10b
      By 2013 Government debt had reached $60 billion, having climbed $27 million a day since John Key became prime minister – That was despite tax returns being higher than expected and Govt expenditure lower than forecast.
      The reason was not due to an earthquake nor because of a GFC but due to stupid tax bribes / cuts for those who frankly didn’t need them. The increased tax take was not from those who could afford to pay but from the increased tax take on food and essential items paid mostly by those who could not afford to pay it.
      But perhaps your biggest lie is this one:
      Unemployment at close to historic lows.
      Tells the lie to this.
      When 1 hour of “employment” per week equates to being in employment and therefore not unemployed – and there are thousands in this category – this measure is simply a flat out lie.
      Budget surpluses increasing year by year.
      let me see now when was the “surplus”? Oh yes that was last year! And how was that achieved? Oh yeah! Pulling millions out of Housing NZ, Cut mental heath services (services of which I would think you are in desperate need), Cuts in education, cuts in Welfare – kicking people off benefits etc. Yeah great caring society..

    • Zorb6 12.6

      Can you provide evidence of this?’Key Government inherited a decade of budget deficits.’.Cheers.

    • NZJester 12.7

      The outgoing National government did not inherit a country in bad financial shape, quite the opposite. What they inherited from the Labour government before them was a well-balanced economy that had used all the spare money to pay of the debts run up by the previous National Government before them. Our debt was virtually paid off and the tax intake and money to be received from state-owned enterprises were sufficient to keep funding the countries public services for a few years to come.
      National immediately screwed that up by borrowing money for a tax cut for the rich that they did not need. They also while claiming it was not a tax increase, increased GST basically doing a tax swap that lowered costs for the rich while increasing costs for the poor helping to create an even greater gap between the rich and the poor, accelerating the growth of poverty in New Zealand. Under their government they stared a new class of working poor people the like of which has not been seen since Victorian times.
      Under every Labour government our international debt has gone down while our government services have been kept adequately funded and under ever National Government it has gone up while our government services have been starved of funds by budget increases not being kept up with inflation.
      Then there is the partial selling off of state assets for a song and the loss of a lot of the cash they used to generate.

  13. Tamati Tautuhi 13

    … at least we are getting everything recorded here on this list, ready for the new Government to have something to get stuck into when they get hold of the reins.

  14. Sparky 14

    So lets take their mess and run with it by signing the TPP11 even though we said “no” to the TPPA first time around. Sorry to belabour this point but this is about the worst thing ever to come up under National and no self respecting supposedly left leaning coalition should ever entertain it. That they are makes me think its a case of “more of the same” with a few trivial tweaks and lots of “lip service” to the idea of reform without actual reform. I may be wrong but somehow based on past experience I doubt it. What they need to keep in mind is veteran voters like myself are growing tired of their shit so either get it together or watch us stay home and watch Netflix come next election.

    • RedBaronCV 14.1

      Or change the whole face of the agreement by putting in serious sovereignty provisions, ecological, work rights and community rights. I’d love to see one that enshrined the obligation to have state health care otherwise we can sue.

  15. RedBaronCV 15

    Well I think the first steps are to reduce the stuff that we taxpayers have to front up for.
    Start with the big corporates and apply some serious pressure to get them to move jobs away from Auckland to the provinces to reverse Auckland’s population & growth problems. That way we can use some of our existing housing and infrastructure stock – non Auckland – and we save on the costs of the infrastructure rebuilds that are going to have to be funded by the taxpayer & Auckland ratepayer. I wouldn’t bother with any carrots either – total up employees by Gst or tax grouping and apply some payroll infrastructure levies . And cut the welfare bills. They have had the cheap labour benefit – time to pay the costs

    Then look at the basics most have to pay
    power, telco, rates and get the costs of those down to free up cash in people’s hands. If it means salary caps on Local body head honcho’s go for it , undermine power prices with local green schemes, prevent excess distribution of profits overseas.

  16. Enough is Enough 16

    r0b lets not go overboard here. National always blamed the previous government for every issue. Lets not go down that negative route. Gladly I think Jacinda will be relentlessly positive and looking forward rather than back.

    As Brian Gaynor recently observed the first point to note is that the country’s unemployment rate has declined from a recent high of 6.7 per cent in September 2012, to 5.2 per cent at the end of 2016 and 4.8 per cent in the latest survey. Our 4.8 per cent unemployment rate compares with 5.5 per cent in Australia, 4.4 per cent in the United States and 5.9 per cent in the OECD group of countries.

    Our employment rate – the extent to which people available for work are being used – is 76.1 per cent compared with 72.4 per cent in Australia, 70.0 per cent in the United States and the OECD’s average of 67.4 per cent. These figures have been adjusted to standardised ILO guidelines.

    The New Zealand economy created 181,000 additional jobs over the past two years, with 93 per cent of these being full-time employment and the remaining 7 per cent part-time.

    Over the same two years, the Australian economy created 459,200 new jobs of which only 57 per cent were full-time.

    Accordingly, the New Zealand economy has created 9.0 per cent more full-time jobs since mid-2015 while Australia has generated only 3.2 per cent additional full-time employment positions over the same period.

    This largely explains why New Zealand is experiencing record net migration levels at present.

  17. UpandComer 17

    It’s an admirable compilation of data and deserves praise for the effort.

    But no one is every going to believe Labour’s re-writing of history that they inherited a bad economy when they’re spending $20-25billion worth of surpluses in the next 6 years. A Labour Force Pariticipation Rate at record highs. Unemployment low with Government vastly smaller then 2007 so these are real jobs.

    Publications from unions on health and education crises, alleged, are like the news reporting on the weather. It’s a fact of life.

    Closing down mental health providers that don’t work and don’t achieve anything isn’t a ‘crisis’. The country can’t wait for the proliferation of NGO’s like the last time, all rated on who can express the most puerile and saccharine expressions of care and support for the wonderful Labour government. Performance and changing lives will not be measured and not be considered.

    Homelessness only exists under National. We’ve actually read the Otago University material that Al Jazeera cited. It showed per capita homelessness barely increased from Helen Clark’s utopia in 2005, even though an entire city was destroyed. Now Labour own it. Lets see them abolish it. National had plans to end homelessness and use data-tech to get live real-time updates and deprivation maps using social investment. Now we’ll be back to 5 year data bombs based on the census.

    Debt is $100billion less then it would have been.

    It’s going to be funny because everyone knows Labour’s policies are going to stall then degrade the economy. Even Winston knows it. But you guys own it. National achieved growth. At best Labour will cash National’s cheques for two terms. There is enough money and borrowing capacity for huge dumb-bomb spending to paper over the problems inherent in Labour’s policies for a while, being very generous. By the last year of Labour’s second term (that’s a big if) we will back in semi-permanent deficit forecasts, all our social issues will be either unchanged, or unsustainably changed (you can’t just give everyone free stuff forever), and Labour will blame it on capitalism. It’s entirely predictable. Take a screen-shot.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1


      Funded by budget deficits in public services. You actually fall for this crap.

  18. CHCOff 18

    To any logistics of space issues regarding the Auckland port, a half-way house could be it is kept and streamlined for disembarking and embarking only, and the Northland area developed for storage, sorting and distribution where space is at less of a premium. Then overtime a parallel Northland port could be developed for working in tandem with the Auckland one.

  19. ianmac 19

    Just arrived home and so great vote of thanks to Rob for a mighty effort, even if it takes me a day or so to process it. Thanks Rob.

  20. Philg 20

    Well done Rob. You have served the public well by publishing this information. It makes the MSM not look quite so bad.

    • ianmac 20.1

      Good point Philg. Rob does what journalists used to do and should be doing now. I bet Nicky Hager would have respect for Rob’s integrity.

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