web analytics

Vale atque ave

Written By: - Date published: 3:35 pm, October 5th, 2011 - 10 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

Three Labour MPs gave their valedictories last night; Lynn Pillay, Pete Hodgson, and Jim Anderton in that order. Jim’s career path in political employment was a bit roundabout, Lynn’s the shortest (she’ll kill me for that!), and Pete’s the longest.

All have made a huge contribution to the labour movement in its various forms and to the country, with the standout undoubtedly Jim’s dogged and determined fight to set up Kiwibank, with help he acknowledged from Annette King. Pete Hodgson held 14 portfolios in the fifth Labour government, an indication of his energy and competence. Feisty Lynn did the hard yards, steering the Electoral Finance Bill and the Section 59 changes through Parliament committees.

Most valedictories speak of past achievement. Unusually, Pete Hodgson focussed more on the future, so his valedictory became manifesto and challenge. Poverty and sustainability were the main themes. His speech hasn’t got much coverage in the media, and I think more of it is worth sharing here:

Valedictories are supposed to be about the past, but my head lives mostly in the future. So let me give one portfolio, climate change, a bit more attention, because the world’s response has barely begun. There are 3 key problems. The first is the global addiction to cheap oil. It is an astonishing fuel but they are not making it any more. The second is that climate change is the only area of politics where, when the proof of the need to act finally arrives, the ability to act will have long since gone. The third is that we do not have governance structures that are equal to the task. Disturbingly we may even have discovered the limits of nation state democracies as an idea.

In New Zealand we have an opportunity and obligation to contribute to agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation because we can, and because success increases agricultural productivity. I commend the current government’s commitment to continuing and expanding that science and I wish all involved success and patience in equal measure.

Of course one way to reduce CO2 emissions is to run out of cheap oil. Inevitably we will. That requires a public policy response. Sure, the market will play its part – when a tank of petrol costs $300 not $100, behaviour will change.

But the market alone cannot deliver. Governments need to help. Most governments have started. We have stopped. Fuel efficiency standards scrapped, the biofuels sales obligation scrapped, curtailed sustainability measures in general – indeed the very word has been scrubbed off documents in a frenzied cleansing of the lexicon. This is unfortunate expensive behaviour. I spoke with a New Zealand biofuels company recently which is pulling out of here and investing instead in Thailand and the US. We need to be smarter than that.

Which leads me to sustainable development in general. I view it as a uniting idea, capable of creating wealth, creating ecological room, creating economic diversification and resonating strongly with the Kiwi ethos. Certainly cows and tourism, alone, are not a future, precisely because those activities are not scaleable. There are now three dairy cows for every one that existed when I was in rural practice. If three cows are not a limit, four will be, or eight or some such number. Tourism is similarly not scaleable in New Zealand; the Galapagos effect will see to that at some point.

I define sustainability very simply. If we can’t do it forever then sooner than later we can’t do it at all. Mining national parks is a case in point. So is an energy strategy based on offshore oil and gas production. So is getting rid of public debt by selling public assets. These are all things that can be done but once. They are unsustainable by definition. Sustainable development is very strongly associated with technology. But also with design, with intellectual property, and sometimes with new business models. Whether it is applied to a further advance in some primary product, or whether it is headed in the direction of clean energy, or the creative sector, or weightless exports or whatever, sustainable development demands high skills.

So it is a hi-tech, hi-skill future. Here is another observation. There is a strong association between private sector R & D investment, and exporting. An association is not a cause, and not all exporters research. But nearly all research intensive companies export. Look more closely and those same companies are likely to be developing sustainably. And usually very quickly.  So, policies such as cancelling the R & D tax credit make no sense to me. The government said they couldn’t afford it. Fair enough. But the very next year they lowered company tax from 30c to 28c, which cost even more. We must pay more attention to those firms that owe their existence, not to local domestic demand, but to some technology or some clever entrepreneur or both. Their sand pit is global not local. They usually export, they usually grow quickly, they usually pay high wages. They are the game changers. Not all firms are equal.

But sustainable development does not address the rich-poor gap. It is growing inexorably around the developed world, for many reasons. One is the tension between global salaries and local wages. More than one labour market is at play. I think our approach to poverty has just started to change. It has always been a social justice issue – poverty is unfair on the poor. I think it is now being viewed also as an issue of social dysfunction – poverty is bad for everyone. There are strong links between the rich-poor gap and many social ills – teenage pregnancy, obesity, violence – you name it. Research, including New Zealand research, is beginning to unravel the detail. Addressing poverty matters.

I think we have underused the minimum wage as a tool. We were the first nation in the world to regulate a minimum wage, back in 1894. Since then it has variously risen above two-thirds the average wage and fallen below the depths of irrelevancy. Currently it is a bit below half the average wage. If we are to reap the benefits of a relatively flexible labour market, we should also provide a bunch of civilised minima that endure. In New Zealand the debate is usually framed around the idea that raising the minimum wage will throw the low paid out of work altogether. Many crocodile tears are shed at that altar. But research suggests the opposite – that raising the minimum wage can stimulate local economies and reduce unemployment, though only slightly. The current chair of the Council of Economic Advisors to the US Presidency, Professor Alan Krueger, is one such researcher. He is a mainstream empirical researcher, dealing in the practical, not the theoretical.

I appreciate this House is some distance away from doing for the low paid what we have already done for superannuitants – establishing an agreed floor. But I will leave folk with the idea anyway.

They’ve all done well – but there is still lots to do.

Update: Videos of all the valedictories can be found on Red Alert. Here’s Pete Hodgson’s:

10 comments on “Vale atque ave”

  1. wobble 1

    Ka pai Pete. Excellent speech. And the hallmark of exactly the kind of person who should be a politician – someone who keeps on wanting to fix injustice.

    Will be sorely missed.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    A good crew, all of them. The Left is going to miss you all on the front lines aginst those Tories. One more Tory scalp wouldn’t go amiss before Nov 26.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      There’s a reason why we have replacements – it’s so we don’t get caught up in the delusional Randian Super-hero meme.

  3. r0b 3

    Thanks Pete.  And a great note to go out on.

  4. millsy 4

    Too bad Jim Anderton made his peace with Labour by helping to destroy the Alliance as a left wing force in this country. Helen Clark, Lynne Pillay (who took Waitakere in 02) and the Engineer’s union also had their hands in that particular pie.

    IMO that is the reason why this country has drifted slowly right wards since the 2002 election. I would still vote Alliance if they had a decent chance at getting into Parliament.

    But you cant bedgrudge him for Kiwibank. A member of an old forum site I posted to owes me $500 over that 🙂 Of course I’ve written the debt off since I lost contact with him 🙂

  5. Misanthropic Curmudgeon 5

    Interesting that you call Jim (“Bannit”) Anderton a Labour MP: Will you be asking that he return his party leader entitlement?

  6. Anton 6

    If Labour are so concerned about poverty why did they abolish the special benefit back in 2002, introduce the Social Security Amendment Act 2007 which destroyed the concept of welfare as we know it (including work-testing invalids beneficiaries) and a whole host of other nasty right-wing reforms? Labour have never fronted to any of these concerns when asked. One must be left with the conclusion, therefore, that if re-elected they’d continue down this destructive path, pandering to the red-neck talkback radio bigots, flapping around in a kind of hypocrisy they’re now famous for. When anyone from Labour talks about “poverty” I want to vomit.

    • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 6.1

      You forgeot to mention how beneficiaries were still _worse_ off under Labour than _after_ the ‘Ruthenasia’ benefit cuts

      [lprent: You’re starting to look like a white noise troll making rhetorical statements that don’t particularly relate to the post or surrounding comments and seem more designed to start flames than engage in debate. Have a look at the policy if you want to avoid the usual fate of trolls here who are unable to engage in actual discussion.

      Update: Ummm I see some earlier comments that were more mana acquiring. ]

      • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 6.1.1

        I am not lprent, and have never posted under that nym here.

        The only nym I have posted under on The Standard is this one, ‘Misanthropic Curmdgeon’.

  7. Anton 7

    “You forgeot to mention how beneficiaries were still _worse_ off under Labour than _after_ the ‘Ruthenasia’ benefit cuts”

    No, that’s exactly what I was saying. Benefit rates after the 1991 benefit cuts are in fact in dollar terms (save CPI increases) the same as we have now. Labour promised to reverse those cuts but then backtracked. From 1999 Labour picked up where National left off and continued along the path of destruction with the “reforms” I’ve given two examples of. So, saying that beneficiaries were worse off under Labour than after Richardson’s ‘mother of all budgets’ is precisely what I am saying.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Boost for Rēkohu/Wharekauri/Chatham Islands Community Conservation
    Community conservation in Rēkohu/Wharekauri/the Chatham Islands is receiving a boost, with grants to support local projects announced today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Rēkohu/Wharekauri/ the Chatham Islands are home to 20 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened bird species and 11 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened plant species. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Rātana Pā goes high-tech with UFB
    Iwi, hapu and visitors to Rātana Pā near Whanganui now have access to ultra-fast broadband following its connection, completed in time for annual Rātana celebrations, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The connection and associated hardware were funded from the Provincial Growth Fund’s $21 million Marae Digital Connectivity programme, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Govt’s strong financial management acknowledged
    The Government’s strong financial management and plan to future proof the economy with new infrastructure investment has gained further recognition from an international ratings agency. Credit rating agency Fitch has upgraded one of its main metrics assessing the Government’s books, lifting its foreign currency AA rating outlook to ‘positive’ from ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Boost in Whānau Ora funding to keep changing lives
    Whānau throughout New Zealand are set to benefit from an extra three million dollars that will go directly to Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies, the Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare announced today.  Including previous funding boosts, the Agencies will now receive $87 million this year between them.  In Budget 2019 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • More people getting into work
    The December quarter benefit numbers released today show the Government’s plan to get people off the benefit and into work is starting to pay off,” Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said.   “Nearly 19,000 people cancelled their benefit and went into work in the last few months of the year – ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Wairoa gets up to $6.1m to rebuild heart of CBD
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing up to $6.1 million to revitalise business and tourism opportunities in Wairoa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The PGF is funding: Up to $4.8 million for the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility Up to $960,000 for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Major Events support for creative and cultural events
    Creative and cultural events that highlight New Zealand’s diverse culture and build national pride are set to get a funding boost through the Major Events Fund, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said today. The new Creative and Cultural Events Incubator, which is funded through the Major Events Fund, will open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Classroom internet in hundreds of schools to get a boost
    The Government has begun a massive IT upgrade to provide more seamless internet access to 200 schools around the country. Te Mana Tūhono – Technology in Schools work programme will launch with a pilot of 10 smaller state schools early this year. IT equipment that gives students access to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Construction workforce, apprenticeships hit record highs
    Working with industry and committing to rebuild New Zealand’s infrastructure has produced a record high number of Kiwis working in the construction industry and learning trades, says Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. New figures available today from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Tertiary Education ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • NZ concludes digital economy trade talks with Singapore and Chile
    A new trade agreement concluded today helps New Zealand exporters and consumers take advantage of opportunities from digital trade.    Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker together with Chile’s Vice Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yañez and Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, have announced conclusion of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund to fund Waipukurau cultural development and tourism
    The Ngā Ara Tipuna -  Waipukurau Pā Site Interpretation project will receive $2.798 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to create an authentic cultural tourism experience, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today “The project will inform visitors about the history of six pā sites in Waipukurau with a combination ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • 21 new judges boost diversity, improve access to justice
    Twenty-one new District Court judges have been appointed in a move that will improve access to justice and boost diversity on the bench. The new judges include replacements for retirements and 10 new positions. Attorney-General David Parker today announced the 14 judges who can immediately be named, with the remainder ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Puhinui to Auckland Airport in 10 minutes
    Aucklanders are another step closer to getting rapid transit to the airport, with the start of construction to upgrade State Highway 20B to the airport, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. SH20B will be upgraded with additional lanes in each direction, dedicated to bus and high-occupancy vehicles between Pukaki Creek ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Advancing New Zealand’s trade agenda focus of Europe meetings
    World Trade Organisation reform, agricultural trade and a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom will be the focus of Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker’s visit to Europe this week. David Parker leaves on Tuesday for a series of meetings in the UK and Switzerland that aim ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Minister of Defence to visit counterparts in US and Canada
    The Minister of Defence, Ron Mark, departed today for the United States and Canada where he will meet with his counterparts.  While in Canada Minister Mark will meet with his counterpart, Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.  “New Zealand and Canada are close friends, and share an instinctive like-mindedness on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government to deliver family carers $2000 pay rise, expand scheme to spouses this year
    The Coalition Government is delivering this year the changes to Funded Family Care the disability sector has long-asked for, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. “Today we are announcing the details of our big changes to Funded Family Care, including an annual average pay boost of $2,246.40 for funded ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Ko te reo kua mū: Piri Sciascia
    Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta joins te ao Māori in their sorrow as they learn of the loss of one of the great orators and spokespersons of a generation – Piri Sciascia.  “The son of Pōrangahau was a staunch advocate for Māori development and served his people for over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister opens new ecosanctuary at Cape Farewell
    A new ecosanctuary with a predator proof fence on Golden Bay’s Cape Farewell, which will restore a safe home for sea birds, rare native plants, giant snails, and geckos, was officially opened today by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “There has been a fantastic community effort supported by the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Pacific partners work together to provide additional support to Australia
    The NZDF continues to support the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles fires in Victoria and New South Wales, including by transporting Republic of Fiji Military engineers from Nadi to Australia, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark. On Saturday morning a NZDF Boeing 757 will depart New Zealand to uplift ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Kaikōura $10.88 million boost in tourism & business
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. As part of the Kaikōura Marina Development Programme, the following two projects will receive PGF funding: A $9.88 million investment to begin the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt accounts in surplus, debt remains low
    The Government’s books are in good shape with the accounts in surplus and expenses close to forecast, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown accounts for the five months to November. The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was above forecast by $0.7 billion resulting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Auckland focus for first Police graduation of 2020
    The number of Police on the Auckland frontline is increasing with the graduation today of a special locally-trained wing of new constables. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of eighteen officers from Recruit Wing 333-5 means that more than 1900 new Police have been deployed since the Coalition Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Wairarapa gets $7.11m PGF water boost
    The Provincial Growth Fund is putting $7.11 million into creating a sustainable water supply for Wairarapa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The following two projects will receive Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding: A $7 million investment in Wairarapa Water Limited for the pre-construction development of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Progress with new Police station in Mahia
    Community safety and crime prevention in the East Coast community of Mahia has moved forward with the opening of a new Police station to serve the growing coastal settlement. Police Minister Stuart Nash has officially opened the new station, which was relocated almost 20 kilometres along the coast from the nearby ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Plans to protect the future of whitebaiting announced
    With several native whitebait species in decline the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has today released proposals to standardise and improve management of whitebait across New Zealand. “The need for action for a healthy whitebait fishery has never been greater,” Eugenie Sage said.  “Four of the six whitebait species are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New resource for schools to increase awareness and understanding of climate change
    A new Ministry of Education resource available for schools in 2020 will increase awareness and understanding of climate change, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The resource, Climate Change – prepare today, live well tomorrow, will help students understand the effects of climate change at a local, national and global ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Getting more out of our most productive firms
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has approved the terms of reference for an Inquiry into the economic contribution of New Zealand's frontier firms. Frontier firms are the most productive firms in the domestic economy within their own industry. “These firms are important as they diffuse new technologies and business practices into ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZDF sends more support to Australia
    The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is sending an Environmental Health Team, a Primary Health Care Team and a Chaplain to Australia, boosting New Zealand support for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles bush fires in Victoria and New South Wales, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand joins partners in calling for full investigation into air crash in Iran
    Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters says that developments suggesting a surface-to-air missile is responsible for the downing of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight in Iran is disastrous news. “New Zealand offers its deepest sympathies to the families of the 176 victims. It is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Staying connected to Australian agriculture
    Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, says the Ministry for Primary Industries is continuing to stay connected to federal authorities in Australia as devastating fires affect the country.  “The Ministry is using an existing trans-Tasman forum for discussions on the agricultural impact of the fires and the future recovery phase,” says Damien ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Investment in schools – a commitment to communities
    Thousands of school-age children, their teachers and wider communities are benefiting from the Government’s multi-million dollar investment upgrading and renewing schools, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “We want New Zealand to be the best place to be a child and that means learning in warm, comfortable and modern classrooms,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Defence Force sends support to Australia
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark today announced New Zealand is sending three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, and two NZ Army Combat Engineer Sections as well as a command element to support the Australian Defence Force efforts in tackling the Australian fires.  The New Zealand Defence Force ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Better access to books for blind and low vision citizens on World Braille Day
    "Today is World Braille Day and I am delighted to announce that an international treaty giving blind and low vision New Zealanders access to books and literary works comes into force today,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today. “Today the Marrakesh Treaty and the associated amendments to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago