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TV3 on the cost of living

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, May 14th, 2011 - 43 comments
Categories: budget 2011, class war, cost of living, welfare - Tags:

TV3’s Campbell Live has been doing some useful reporting lately, in the run up to the budget. Over the coming week they are highlighting the rising cost of living, falling wages, life on the pension, and so on. In short, exactly the sort of stuff which should be front and centre of any budget, and any election campaign.

Some of the coverage looks like it will be gimmicky. A reporter and family living on the average wage for a week, a semi-retired person living on the basic pension for a week. Hell anyone can do it for a week. It’s the month after month after month that kills you. But none the less it will raise awareness of the issues, let people know that they’re not alone. And no doubt some of the coverage will be really good, such as last night’s feature on the cost of living (ht Red Alert):

Good work Campbell Live. More please…

43 comments on “TV3 on the cost of living ”

  1. The cost of living reality experiment is being too soft. I want to see an example of a school leaver living on the unemployment benefit.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      I think most school leavers in that situation would be living with their parents. Sure, there might be a few out on their own, but not many.

      • Treetop 1.1.1

        I’m surprised WINZ do not make it mandatory for an 18 year old to live at home in order to reduce the rate of the unemployment benefit.

        Unemployment rate for an 18 year old.
        Single 18 – 19 years at home $134.26 (net).
        Single 18 – 19 years away from home $167.83 (net).

        Google A – Z benefits – Work and Income for further info.

        Rate of accommodation supplement depends on the area a person lives in and the amount of rent or board they pay.

      • David Clark 1.1.2

        Yesterday I met a school leaver living at home trying to make ends meet. A supportive family really struggling. Voted Key last time, but won’t this time.

        I’ve written up the family’s story here:

        • Treetop

          Thank you for the link, I did read it. I used to do benefit rights advocacy over a decade ago and I have done family advocacy as well.

    • Peter 1.2

      TV3 could try unemployed graduates with student debt

  2. Mike1765 2

    I wish they would stop using the average wage as a measure all the time. Most people perceive the average wage as being the wage level that represents the mid level or typical NZ wage. Regardless that it isn’t, that is the way people perceive the term average. The media involved never seem to explain or mention that I think around 70% of wage and salary earners receive less than the average wage!

    It would be much better for them to use the median which is a reflection of the midpoint. At least then viewers know that half of earners are above and half below that level.

    Accounting for things like insurance, car rego, dentist visits, etc, etc, etc would be good too! (Sorry if they do include those sorts of things, I haven’t watched the video yet as am on mobile broadband and videos cost heaps!)

    • Yes, one of the sad things is that the word ‘average’ is commonly used in all sorts of situations by most people as a synonym for ‘ordinary’ or ‘usual’ yet, in mathematics, it doesn’t mean that at all.

      The political use of the word ‘average’ in relation to economic and financial measures is widespread probably because it levers off that ‘ordinary’ usage while remaining technically very different, giving the impression that the ‘usual’ situation of ‘ordinary’ New Zealanders is not too bad, really.

      My pet hate phrase – which is a variation on the ‘average’ theme – is ‘per capita’ in relation to ‘income’. For example, I’m completely uninterested in ‘catching up with Australia’ in terms of national income (or GDP) per capita because we could easily do that by having open slather and a binge on our resources while most New Zealanders’ incomes remained pretty much the same as now. I’m very interested in ‘catching up with Australia’ in terms of wages for equivalent jobs.

  3. todd 3

    $287.75 to license my car for a year. $198.46 is for an ACC levy. How much of that money is being spent on people who need it and how much is being invested insecurely overseas?

  4. Tangled up in blue 4

    general public – “it’s because of the recession”.

    general public – “it’s because of the recession, right?”

  5. Herodotus 5

    In 2007 there was no interest by the then govt on the cost of living, and thene there was the increase in martgage rates from 6 to 10.4% floating, screwing between $80 – $200 out of a family budget. But as inflation excludes interest rates (and a few other items) who cares we kept inflatio down to 2-3%. Well my outflows were excessove of this, and so were many others. then we have that much of the non tradables are things that are essential e.g. rates, power, water. Those cheep TV’s,dvd players that kept inflation down are things when it gets tight we can make decisions. You cannot escape power and the likes. Then we had petrol 2.18/l & the looming local bodies add ons of $0.10/l + GST.
    Also when reviewing Cam Live the families unfortunate ever increasing food budget. Nappies are a killer, large vol. and expensive. A great day financially when toilot training has been achieved.
    And re average wage, a better measure for me is the medium and average disposable incomes, as this include taxes and govt assistance e.f. WFF. Remember we include incomes there is a large spike at the Nat pension level as all those retirees influence the stats, and many Salary and Wage eanrers are not full time, this has to be taken into consideration and is why full time wage is often used, it also excludes beneficary payments + Pensions.

    • KJT 5.1

      It should be median family income against the real cost of normal food and household items, housing, power and transport. Contrary to popular belief, low income families tend not to spend much on new cars, wide screen tv’s and telephones.

      The CPI has been fiddled to make the CPI less since its inception.

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    ‘ it will be gimmicky’

    Of course. It’s all about ratings and political posturing.

    And that means none of the key drivers of the mess we are in -peak oil, population overshoot, overconsumption of resources, fiat currencies based on financial scams etc. – none of them will even get a mention. Nor will the suitable strategies -permaculture, community gardens etc.- get a mention, since they do not fit the corporate agenda of the mainstream media.

    So, as global oil extraction continues to fall, as world population continues to rise, and as fiat currencies continue to become increasingly worthless, the collective hole we are in will get deeper and deeper until, at some stage in the not-too-distant-future, the entire system collapses.

    • Herodotus 6.1

      People need to see trhe syptoms before they will react. At least with peak oil carbon emissions will decrease thru reduced burn off.
      I was surprised on “That interview” hardtalk that we have no optium population target. This is not only directed at Nat, Lab are the same. With the greens the only party I am aware of that has commented on the subject. The marginal cost of immigration seems to be to me greater than the benefits. Creating stress in infrastructure, especially within the greater Jafa area. Areas like Chch (pre quake) were going at a modest rate that was not placing pressure on their city and the city could grow in a controlled and planned manner.
      Smaller house lots means that there is no ability for the likes of gardens, fruit trees to be planted. Even using the sun to dry clothes is questionable in many properties today, also smaller lots require added resources to deal with stormwater.
      Afew.. like the property bubble popping it is when and if we can mitigate to reduce the impact when the fin system does collapse (perhaps that is why those within the system are milking it as quickly and for as much as they can, so they can escape the consequences when it does happen). I doubt we have the skills,commitment, the ability to even recognise this or leadership to mitigrate NZ and will take the full force of any collapse. So where are we? vote right so a few of us will escape, vote left and we all die !!!!

  7. Samuel Hill 7

    I live in Wellington. My Student allowance is $161.83, and I’m only allowed to earn $203.13 before tax a week on top of what I get from the government. My rent is $155. I have $40 a week come out for other household bills (electricity, internet, phone, wheelie bin, sky tv) and $40 for my own bills. I’ll spend about $60-$70 a week on food. I spend $9 a day getting to uni and back on the bus, so thats about $45 a week.

    $155 – RENT
    $65 – FOOD
    $45 – TRANSPORT

    $345 TOTAL COSTS

    +$203.13 (BEFORE TAX)
    = An after tax total LOWER than my bills!

    On the minimum wage I would have to work over 30 hours a week to earn a similar amount without needing the Student Allowance. Thats while studying.

    Now while Phil Goff likes to tell everyone he worked his way through uni at the freezing works, I’m sure he was able to save some of his earnings. As you can see, in my current situation it is almost impossible to save.

    • Tangled up in blue 7.1

      = An after tax total LOWER than my bills!

      If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

      • Samuel Hill 7.1.1

        I know that. But that is my budget right there. I’m not drinking alcohol, or smoking drugs. Thats my cost of LIVING. Thats not buying any snacks in town, not going out for coffee, not renting or going to the movies, not going to any gigs. Nothing. That is my budget. I meet my bills because I cut back every week. Some weeks I’ll spend $30 on food.

        Give me some advice, mate. Do you suggest I cut back on food or transport? It is a bit more than budgeting. Its deciding that walking 2 hours into town is worth $4.50. Thats an opportunity cost of 1 and a half hours studying. So I take the bus or if I’m lucky enough, catch a ride when one of my flatmates are driving to town

        • Tangled up in blue

          That comment was tongue in check. It’s actually a quote from John Key.

          Your situation (and thousands of others) shows how far out of touch with the reality of many NZ’ers Key really is.

        • Treetop

          This week in Wellington I heard a student raise cheaper bus fares for students. In a place like Wellington this is needed due to high rental for students. The university is in a far corner of the city as well. Other regions in the country have managed to assist students with subsidised bus fare or free bus rides.

          A student cannot be expected to exist without a small comfort or two, other than just paying for rent, electricity, bus fare, food, phone.

          • Vicky32

            I can’t believe you don’t already have cheaper fares for students… (Back in the 1980s, when we lived in Welly, there were lower bus fares for people on DPB, which was in advance of Auckland.. Looks as if you’ve gone backwards since. That’s not good!

    • joe bloggs 7.2

      I’m only allowed to earn $203.13…

      here’s another reality check Sammy – you are allowed to earn as much as you want. There are no maxaimum wage limits in NZ.

      • Samuel Hill 7.2.1

        Thats not true at all sorry.


        “Your income in any one week can be up to $203.13 before tax (from 1 April 2011) before your Student Allowance payments are affected.
        For every cent you earn over $203.13 in any week, the amount you get for Student Allowance before tax will reduce by the same amount. For example, if you earn $210 a week before tax, your Student Allowance will reduce by $6.87.
        If your income changes you must let us know immediately so we can change your payments.
        You need to let us know of any income you get the week this has been earned. If you don’t let us know, you could be overpaid and you’ll need to pay the money back. We could take legal action to recover this money.”

        I get letters in the mail from the Ministry of Social Development whenever I go over the $203.13 amount. I owe them $3,000 right now for earnings I’ve made over the limit when I worked on some shut downs at mills in my study breaks, and other jobs I have had. My choice is work 30+ hours a week, and save whatever I make over $345, or have a part-time job (which I do), earn my limit, be an ultra conservative and frugal spender, and save nothing. Its very hard to find a job which would give me over 30 hours a week that doesn’t clash with my class timetable.

        • joe bloggs

          You poor innocent fool – in New Zealand you can earn as much as you want.

          You have chosen to leech off the state whilst studying.

          The limit in earnings that you refer to is the point at which you cease to parasitise the state and start to earn your own way in life. Whether you choose to step over that line and become a productive and self-sufficient member of society, or stay where you are now is over to you.

          So don’t try bitching about only being allowed to earn $200 a week – grow a spine, take responsibility for your situation, and change it.

          • Samuel Hill

            If you haven’t noticed there aren’t exactly a lot of businesses taking people on at the moment. I have a job, I’m fine – I’m not too worried. What I am trying to show you is that many young people are getting pissed off in this country. Why do you think people go overseas when they graduate, or give up on studying and go overseas. The only way to move up in society in NZ is to join a successful business, start your own or go to uni. The wages here are shit, and after having the thumb pressed down on you for 3-4 years study its no surprise that Kiwis go overseas.

            Oh lets bring the youth rates too. Then students will have to work full time whilst studying full time just to pay their bills. No savings. Good one.

            And I’m a lucky one by the way. My mother didn’t earn enough money so I was eligible for the student allowance. Those with parents that actually have full-time jobs might find themselves owing the $161 they get from the GOVT. Thats roughly $6,000 a year on top of their study costs – likely to be a loan as well.

            $50,000 debt after 4/5 years study and expecting Graduated Kiwis to stay in NZ needs a reality check.

            • McFlock

              You’re more reasonable than me, Samuel – I would just have told Joe to go fuck himself.

              Frankly the government is choosing to “parasitise” the fact that people often require further education in order to live and work with dignity in the area that fulfills them most.

              • Drakula

                Sam; So what Joe bloody blogs would do is ignore the minimum wage allowance ruling and make as much money regardless, whilst keeping one’s “dignity’ refusing the weekly allowance and making heaps, Right? Yeh right!!! If jobs are in short supply then according to Joe’s utopia you can still make heaps RIGHT? How? Selling drugs? Fencing stolen goods? Selling loan scams to fellow students? Selling your body to the porn industry? Or maybe female students can sell their bodies in the bordello’s or the street etc.etc.etc

                Yeh right Jo Mc Flock is right why don’t you take your right trolling arse and fuck off I am sure Don Brash has a place for you in his pantomime ACT party !!!!!!!

          • ZeeBop

            In order to feed the growing population cultures specialized, farmers farmed, butchers butchered, smithies fashioned tools, the social contract was formed that individuals would not be without food so they could learn a trade and produce useful products and services for the community and there was always work.

            Then mass production turf people off the land and into new industrialize jobs and the drive to make life easier pushed more further into parasite existences, collectively known as the arts.

            Now the arts wage war on the parasites, themselves, in order that the products and services belong to the most adept winner parasites. I say bring it on, the sooner the parasites realize their mutually assured destruction is killing the planet, using up resources, and so obviously a divide and conquer strategy, the soon they see they are just losing to themselves. So fool parasite your turd blossoms are smelly and all over your own face.

            IN the late 70s the right and left got the new agenda, cheap oil needed cheap credit, now with peak oil the conservative revolution is over, but still there are too many who still believe that it works in a resource limited world – fools. Wallets are awash with risky assets, getting riskier, and they want the parasites to work harder. How like the communist soviets regime, work harder for the greater prosperity of the state.

            • Drakula

              Zee I find your views of the arts a little narrow and Philistine, the arts can be very usefull, meaningfull and pruductive. Consider the philosopher who walked the earth 2 thousand years ago and said that ‘man cannot live on bread alone’.

              Are painters who produce beauty non productive? What about the designers drawings that have created everything around you? the chair you sit on the computer you look at hey!!!
              And those who create literature that expose the inadaquacies of the world in a way that is more digestable to the population at large than any manual or thesis for one’s doctorate.

              The arts are neutral and can be abused to create a prevailing zeitgiest that is very sinister and dangerous eg. the Third Reich. Read Lee Harpers book To Kill a Mocking Bird; that book was very influental in addressing the race issue in the deep south of the US.
              You simply cannot generalize on the arts and expect that to be a valid premisis to your argument, which is right there is a finite anount of resourses on this planet. The arts my friend could go a long way to address that issue.

          • Vicky32

            You have chosen to leech off the state whilst studying.
            The limit in earnings that you refer to is the point at which you cease to parasitise the state and start to earn your own way in life. Whether you choose to step over that line and become a productive and self-sufficient member of society, or stay where you are now is over to you.

            Charming, Joe Bloggs! You do realise it’s impossible to work full time and simultaneously study full time, don’t you? Anyone who doesn’t have well off parents has no choice but to “leech off the state”.
            When I was first studying, I was – believe it or not an orphan. (Sounds rather 19th century but it’s true. However I was lucky, this was the 1980s, before student loans. When my son was studying three years ago, he had one parent making more than minimum wage but not much more. More ‘leeching’. But what’s the alternative?

      • Draco T Bastard 7.2.2

        That’s not a reality check joe, that’s your admission that you have no connection to reality. Part time work generally doesn’t that well.

  8. deservingpoor 8

    When I was a student, I was always struck by the difference in attitude between NZ and America. On American chat shows when someone said they were “in college”, the audience would clap because they were doing something for themselves and ultimately for the country. Here students have always been treated as dirty filthy bennies and told to get a real job.
    So what does Joe Bloggs suggest? No one in NZ goes on to anything other than a basic secondary education? We already have one of the lowest rates of post graduate science students in the developed world. The scary thing, and the reason why NZ will never progress much above third world status, is that Joe Blogg’s attitude is all too common.

    • KJT 8.1

      Wrong. We have plenty of Law and commerce graduates. Too few in anything useful such as Engineering, building, plumbing, science and technical subjects.
      We have more Lawyers, for example, than anywhere but the USA.
      Most people who have studied for real productive jobs have now left the country while overpaid commerce and Law graduates keep awarding themselves higher and higher pay for running NZ business and NZ into the ground.

      Just heard many more in my profession are leaving for Australia.

      Highly skilled professionals in real jobs are valued over there.

      After years of nil wage rises here so incompetent executives can be paid more to lose money. And working with half trained immigrants employers bring in to avoid paying real wages to, or training, New Zealanders.

      “Last one out turn out the lights”.

      • deservingpoor 8.1.1

        “Wrong. We have plenty of Law and commerce graduates. Too few in anything useful such as Engineering, building, plumbing, science and technical subjects.”
        What I actually said was. “We already have one of the lowest rates of POST GRADUATE SCIENCE STUDENTS in the developed world”. According to 2009 OECD figures, NZ has the 5th highest number of university graduates in the world, mostly in humanities. By contrast, we are ranked 23 out of 37 countries for doctoral science graduates.
        My point was that if we are to progress as a country, we need to value education. By all means give a greater focus on useful subjects like science, engineering and so on that are required for the high tech industries we need to develop if we are going to compete internationally.
        I really don’t see how having an uneducated, untrained population who are treated as beneficiaries any time they try to become trained and educated is in our interests as a country. Yes, courses in useful things need to be valued more but I don’t see that happening, all students simply seem to get treated as bludgers, regardless of what they are studying. That is a common NZ attitude that Joe Bloggs seemed to be an example of.

  9. jcuknz 9

    Meanwhile if I heard TV3 correctly some Christchurch guy is annoyed with the government not providing him with a heater so he can swan around his house in shorts … I hope he is not typical of Cantabrians.

    • McFlock 9.1

      if you’re referring to this, it’s talking about 2500 people being heated by portable fan heaters rather than efficient home heating systems, with the pre-winter blasts already upon us.
      I would hope that no Cantabrians (or rather, New Zealanders – but that’s too much to hope for under nact) were in that position, but they are.
      Thank goodness we have CERA to make things better /sarc

      • jcuknz 9.1.1

        If they are, and I view the story as political bias rampant, then it is their own fault for being dumb and not getting their A into G.
        In any case I view whole-home heating as wasteful use of resources. A foolish copying of americana as shown in the TV people silly enough to watch TV are smothered with.
        Come winter time one dons suitable clothing and brings the heat if needed closer to one.
        I share your disgust with fan heaters and quite like the recently available low wattage ‘lamp’ type heaters … 600 instead of 1000 and 1200 instead of 2400 … it is mental, turn on ‘two bars’ and one is warm.
        I doubt if CERA will be any better or worse than any other set-up.

  10. McFlock 10

    “If they are, and I view the story as political bias rampant, then it is their own fault for being dumb and not getting their A into G.”

    But that’s not the hold-up – the earthquake was the end of february, the paperwork’s been done, people have been prioritised, but there are still 2,000 people who need their chimneys repaired and the system hasn’t kept up. We’re not talking whole of house heating, necessarily, just whole of room. Expect a spike in respiratory illnesses and geriatric mortality in the next few weeks, because that’s the byproduct of substandard heating.

    And there are once again two issues – whether the response is up to scratch, and whether the response matches the promises that shonkey made to the people cameras.

    • jcuknz 10.1

      I don’t have a chimney but I’m not cold .. get real please! Whole of room is also not very intelligent use of one’s resources either. OK if you are a ‘rich prick’ and have money to burn .. but if you can afford whole of room/ whole of house then don’t expect the government to provide things for you.
      Forget all the claptrap about minimum temperature. People are so set in their ways they cannot adjust and work it out for themselves but want the Government to do everything for them .. and the government make well meaning promises that do not eventuate … boo hoo!

      • McFlock 10.1.1

        “Claptrap” about minimum temperature?

        Option A: admit John Key is an incompetent and/or uncaring fuckwit.
        Option B: dismiss more than 50 years of scientific public health research as “claptrap”.

        You choose: B.

        Enjoy your sub-12 degree home this winter. There’s a pretty good chance it’ll knock years off your life, but at least you wear your woollies.

  11. jcuknz 11

    Since I am looking forward to my 80th birthday in a few months I think I’m doing AOK thank you :-). My doctor commented this week that I look a lot better than many people of a similar age. I drove a furniture truck some 700 km the other day too, I’m rather proud of that achievement, at my age 🙂

    I also read a press release today stating that 4000 homes would have been sorted out by the end of this week so I really wonder at the accuracy of the 2500 freezing homes 🙂
    I think John Key is doing quite a good job in very difficult circumstances and not helped by the likes of you … but never mind we all have our opinions based on our experience in life.

    • McFlock 11.1

      Well, the figure of 4500 was in the article with only 40% being sorted, so I approximated 2500 remaining.
      Interesting that the press release claiming 4000 done “shortly” (leaving a 500 house shortfall from the labour estimate in the original article) comes out a day or so after Cosgrove’s article in the paper. They suddenly started counting the figures, did they?
      Personally, I wouldn’t rate JK higher than dog spit – he’s too quick to the cameras for the good news, and fobs the bad news off onto subordinates too easily.
      Anyway, you’ve beaten my expected duration (I had too much fun and excitement in my youth for much of an old age – it’ll catch up, sadly), so keep on truckin’.
      Just remember that some people aren’t as healthy as others, for whatever reason. I have several genuine sick days a year (i.e. not hangovers or cricket matches, just before anyone starts), but I have a mate who’s not been ill in 20-odd years.
      On the plus side I have a nice collection of walking sticks for when the ankles pop (several times a year). Ha – and I’m half your age 🙂

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