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Without the handbrake what should this Government do?

Written By: - Date published: 9:52 am, January 1st, 2021 - 112 comments
Categories: climate change, labour, poverty, science, uncategorized - Tags:

Happy new year everyone.

Saionara to 2020 and welcome 2021.  May it be even better.

Today is the day MPs will start to think about the year ahead.  With a stonking mandate and a possible once in a lifetime event, a majority MMP government what should it do?

Simon Wilson has written this very prescient slightly tongue in cheek article published in today’s Herald thinking about the subject.  It is a must read.

As he says why not cancel a few motorway projects, they will become irrelevant as we head towards a post carbon post car society anyway.  Why not build light rail now, feed the circular economy by using the powers of the state to fund local projects, improve education, and reduce poverty by making sure that everyone has enough to live on.

Covid has made us all socialists, we can look overseas and see the damage that right wing governments, fixated on the economy and impervious to the human cost, have managed to achieve.

This Government did not get to the position that it is in by being cautious and working out the middle ground.  It achieved this by being brave, by listening to the science, and by bringing people along with it.

This is the year to be brave.  Let’s do this.

So what do you think the Government should set out to achieve this year?

112 comments on “Without the handbrake what should this Government do? ”

  1. Andre 1

    I want this government to make good on Ardern's “This is my generation's nuclear-free moment, and I am determined that we will tackle it head on” about climate change, from 2017. Putting a serious price on carbon emissions in all sectors including international trade and travel, and making it clear the price will rise fairly quickly to meet emissions reduction targets, will go a long way to actually making good on it.

    Along with improving other aspects of our environment – freshwater, oceans, forests …

    • mickysavage 1.1

      In part they are moving in the right direction. But they are still building damned motorways with Penlink in the north being a particularly silly idea. They should save the money and build lots and lots of walkways and cycleways instead. The cost per meter is much less and the benefit is much more long lasting.

      • Andre 1.1.1

        Meh about Penlink, as long as it actually does end up being tolled at a level that enables cost recovery fairly quickly. As for cycleways and walkways, I'm all for more options for getting around, and in particular, healthier options for getting around.

        But in the big picture, these are really a small part of the issue.

        I kinda reckon there's an attitude shift needed. Way too much of our society still seems to feel entitled to dump their hazardous waste onto the rest of us for free. For most of us, that's our transport and heating exhausts. For some, it's various kinds of run-offs and other emissions.

        I kinda feel like we need to push it home to people that all these emissions are hazardous wastes that cost us all, so they should be paid for. Just like we pay to have our household rubbish taken away, instead of just going and tossing it out the car window somewhere.

        • Sacha

          Attitude shift, yes. Firmly and permanently canning Penlink right now could be a symbolic part of that. Labour need to show confidence that the Nats can campaign against it and not win.

          It makes zero long-term sense to build a duplicate road to a small, confined, coastal suburb which did not agree to having much denser building during the region's unitary plan process. Screw em.

          Every dollar needs to take us closer to a smarter sustainable future. Most of this government's proposed transport spending is still roads made from oil for cars and trucks burning it.

          We simply do not have time for that sort of bullshit. It is stealing from our children and our planet. What kind of 'leaders' wave that past?

          • Cave Johnson

            Penlink will be less about benefitting Whangaparaoa and more about relieving pressure on Silverdale.

            • Sacha

              True, it will make up for the sprawl behind Orewa. Shame they did not extend the Northern busway there instead.

              Penlink will not help people from either direction when their cars just meet further down SH1 rather than at Silverdale.

        • Ed1

          It is time for a review of transport charges – I suspect the damage done by heavy trucks is lower than is being charged; roading costs do seem to have increased hugely while fuel costs have barely changed; road user charges and petrol levies need to be reviewed; and costs for emissions also need to be allowed for. It may be necessary to have a mechanism that charges trucks based on actual emissions as tested . . .

          I suspect that the relative costs of rail are moving in favour of more spending on rail lines – Auckland port problems have highlighted the value of rail for moving large amounts, but they are apparently at capacity – whether because of lines or rolling stock I don't know.

          We should not fall into the trap of always using money to influence use – the privatisation of waste disposal has meant inefficiencies due to multiple trucks collecting in many roads. If we had Council-only collections as in the past we could provide a level of waste disposal free (possibly a number of bags to each dwelling based on the number of people), thus assisting the poverty issue, and perhaps reducing the amount of illegal dumping.

          • Poission

            Auckland port problems have highlighted the value of rail for moving large amounts, but they are apparently at capacity

            It's a global issue brought about by poor assumptions on demand and constraints by too large ships,that slow loading and unloading.

            The land side of international logistics was scrambled as well. At the ports, it was feast or famine: Fewer vessels called, but each one moved more boxes off and on,leaving equipment and infrastructure either unused or overwhelmed. Mountains of boxes stuffed with imports and exports filled the patios at container terminals.The higher the stacks grew, the longer it took the stacker cranes to locate a particular box, remove it from the stack and place it aboard the transporter that would take it to be loaded aboard ship or to the rail yard or truck terminal for delivery to a customer.Freight railroads staggered under the heavy flow of boxes into and out of the ports. Where once an entire shipload of imports might be on its way to inland destinations within a day, now it could take two or three. Queues of diesel-belching trucks lined up at terminal gates, drivers unable to collect their loads because the ship lines had too few chassis on which to haul the arriving containers.


  2. Stephen D 2

    Climate change is critical.

    However this government will be judged on good left wing values. They need to make real progress in reducing poverty, and providing housing.

  3. mango 3

    My concern is that the action needed is more substantial and comprehensive than most people understand or are willing to accept (yet). I do see signs of that changing or at least the possibility of change though. When people talk about a mandate it raises the question of just how far that mandate goes or needs to go.

    • Sacha 3.1

      Building a mandate is what genuine leaders of change do. They do not sit around waiting for one to materialise. Might as well be tories.

  4. weka 4

    Wilson's piece is paywalled, but the bit you report sounds great. I think it's more a matter of how are we (NZ) going to make that happen. Labour are kind of boxed in in a lot of ways and for a lot of reasons. Rather than a chunk of the left spending three years attacking Labour over that (myself included), I'd prefer to see progressives work together on solutions around shifting the overall culture. Labour will move on the issues when the support is there. It's kind of a catch 22, and I'm sure Labour activists can do much within the part ( ;-0 ), but it's also on all of us to take the actions that will make a difference. The days are past when hard man, feet to the fire approaches are sufficient.

  5. Guaranteed basic income of $350pw for people earning under $80,000

    Legalise cannabis as per campaign policy.

    Nationalise electricity generation and supply.

    Prevent the RMA from being decimated to the point of being ineffectual.

    High capital gains tax on property, excluding the family home.

    Super tax on incomes over $200,000 or joint income over $300,000

    • bwaghorn 5.1

      Hell yes then I can chuck my job in and just do 20 hours a week casual to top it up

      And there'll be heaps like me ,all that lost experience and knowledge from the work force wont be a problem, surely?

      • The Al1en 5.1.1

        That, or the more people taking the other half of a 40 hour week, also get to build knowledge and gain experience. Win/Win

      • Gabby 5.1.2

        You might find the quality of your work goes up when you're working fewer hours.

        • bwaghorn

          Farming isnt the same as hanging round the coffee machine gabby old mate . I'm lucky if I jam the week into 40 hours .

  6. alexander 6

    Prepare to be disappointed

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    Until the false economics of neoliberalism are stuffed back in the dustbin of history where they belong, they will compromise every government intervention and render most government actions epiphenomenal.

    So, now is the time for the government to do their homework on economics, instead of listening to the blithe assertions of the self-serving wankers who have put NZ in the toilet for the last four decades.

    Learn what you can from Chang Ha Joon & Picketty & Yunus, and rebuild a robust economy that serves NZ, not ANZ.

    • Adrian Thornton 7.1

      @ Stuart Munro.." and rebuild a robust economy that serves NZ, not ANZ."

      …exactly right, which is why I regularly pull up RNZ for always having bank economists (whose sole purpose is creating debt) on their shows to talk about our economy, but rarely independent economists WTF!..it’s like asking the great white sharks what the seal breeding season is going like….

  8. Reality 8

    The push for more walking and cycle ways is great for leisure but for the majority of people particularly in cities, the need to travel some distance to and from work, school, appointments, shopping, sport, holidays, or for those with a disability, the only way to get there is by car. Public transport is not always available nearby or to get there at a time to suit. Living a a mostly flat city I do not see great swathes of cyclists going about their busy lives but there are many more at weekends for leisure. So will the car always be number one choice for transport?

    • Sacha 8.1

      Most car trips in our cities are less than 5km. Safe cycleways can replace a lot of that local travel. Will never be all, and it is not just 'recreation'.

      Not too many years from now, private cars will not be affordable for most people – with carbon and other impacts properly reflected in the price of using them. Let's get ready by building the alternatives now.

      • Phillip ure 8.1.1

        the private car isn't going away..

        cheap electric city cars will become the norm..

        ..and not far away..

        a Chinese one has just outsold tesla in china..tesla was number one..I presume in electric cars..can't remember where I saw story..

        ..we should be able to import them soon enough..

        and of course india/korea etc etc are also developing cheap electric cars…

        the global market for them will be huge..

        • Sacha

          Electric cars are the same as oil-powered ones when it comes to congestion and disruption of the shape of cities, and the energy and materials used in manufacturing.

          Car-sharing will become a medium option, but economies of scale/impact will support public transit options like buses, trams, trains.

  9. Adrian Thornton 9

    Cancel student debt, and make university education free. Invest heavily in universities and education.

    Implement a capital gains tax that would make your eyes bleed.

    Bring in laws to make renting secure for tenets for at least ten to twenty years. This way a family renting can at least see their children go to just one school and start their life from one home and in just one neighbourhood with all the benefits that flows from that kind of stability.

    Increase taxes and seriously close tax loop holes for the wealthy.

    Spend and do whatever it takes to build enough state owned houses, so that no NZ citizen is without a safe secure warm home.

    Of course this is all fantasy, we all know (even the staunchest Labour supporter in their heart) Labour will do none of these things in any substantial way while they are still adherents to Roger Douglas and David Lange’s Neoliberal economic ideology.

    Turn Labour Left!

  10. Jackel 10

    What Labour should do and what will happen are two different things. The playbook for 2021 will be the same as it has been for the past 40 years. That is that for every failure of neoliberal capitalism yet more debt is created to paper over these failures. We will see if 2021 is just a continuation of this bringing of the day of reckoning a bit closer, or whether 2021 does indeed bring that day of reckoning for neoliberal capitalism.

  11. Sabine 11

    i would be very happy if they were to increase the benefits of people – all of them that are on one – to a level where it can not be called state sanctioned starvation anymore.

    Mind they could have done that some time ago.

    Other then that? I hope that they have the brains to train a successor for when Mrs. Ardern leaves the country in the footsteps of her Mentor Helen Clark. But then again not holding my breath.

    The current leader of the party seems no more inclined to look out for the best of the party then the last leader of the Labour Party who made it to PM.

    • Sacha 11.1

      seems no more inclined to look out for the best of the party than the last leader

      What do you base that on?

      • Sabine 11.1.1

        their inability to recruit anyone who is not an empty beige suit that falls in line in order to keep a generous pay check?

        also, no one was able to win a dog catchers content before they threw dear Jacinda into the mix, who literally was the only one in the whole party who was electable based on her 'likability' as she had at the time no other record of anything other then losing any election she ran for (until she was gifted Mt. Albert), never had to run for PM (gifted the job by Andre Little who was losing so badly it was not even funny anymore – and fwiw, i met the guy and i liked him actually – which funny also, i met the PM at a fundraiser in West Auckland and i did not like her despite giving her turkey for the Party), and looking at the left in England, her stint running some obscure lefty group there seems to have been of no great impact.

        So yes, i hope that they can finally find someone who is more then just nice and soothing rethoric that comes sadly not even with a pair of economy priced dentures.

        Also, the poor are getting poorer, more and more people are paying rent to live in ditches (or the government pays a good coin to slum landlords and motel owners to house the poor unfortunate Kiwis in hovels or places without ammenities), dental care is unaffordable for pretty much most that have not got a company paid dental plan, doctor visits are still out of bounds for many either due to financial issues or simply because there aren't any where they live, and so on and so forth.

        So you might live for nice rethoric, but believe me empty words have never housed anyone, never fed anyone, never closed anyone, and have certainly never stopped a riot in a prison that starts due to lack of phone access and toilet paper.

        The labour party by all means and intends is useless. (The only point i give her is on Covid, and that in my books only shows that she and her merry band of useless courtiers have some sense of self preservation). Also it helped that before her, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan and even to some extend Germany showed how it needed to be done, and that Spain, Italy, the US and UK showed the shit show that would come if they would do nothing or get over run with sick people. . And again, i still think that making employers and businesses the gate way for the Covid support was rafuckery beyond believe, it should have been the IRD that should have sent the 1600 NZD check irrespective of hours worked.

        but that is just me.

  12. alwyn 12

    I think that most of the proposals put forward here are simply dreams. The following is simply my opinion and I am quite unable to put firm numbers on any of it. However I think the storm is going to hit us and that we have to date made little provision for the scale of the problem that is going to arise.

    All the money that the Government has left over after paying the cost of Covid 19 is going to have to go into one thing that we are making little provision for.

    The oncoming Tsunami of the elderly population with dementia and the facilities to care for them is going to take all the money that people dream of spending on things like cycleways, or train sets or whatever.

    The people to supply the care will almost certainly require immigration from poorer countries in ever increasing numbers. If you go to a care facility now you will discover that most of the staff come form SE Asia. They are not native born New Zealand citizens. As the population gets ever older I suspect we are going to require more and more of these immigrants and are going to have to pay them and provide homes for them.

    Are we willing to do so?

    • Nic the NZer 12.1

      In this ridiculus scenario, at what stage will the New Zealand public come to recognise that, avoiding the Covid-19 demographic cull was a mistake, which left the country somehow unable to look after its own?

    • Gabby 12.2

      I thought David Seemore had put in place a solution for that.

      • alwyn 12.2.1

        I assume that it is merely your ignorance that is on display and you are simply too stupid to spell David Seymour's name correctly.

        What was the solution he was offering and what part of the problem was he addressing?

        I doubt if the current Government would adopt it of course. The "not invented here" syndrome is very strong in the current Government.

    • RedBaronCV 12.3

      The so called tsunami of the old is going to be the new normal. MSD has some useful stats on this.Yes we need to plan for it and stop any scaremongering tactics. Getting more of the care into the not for profit sector and paying workers better will do us more good that the current market model which farms the elderly for their assets to distribute to shareholders whilst paying the minimum for their actual care in a labour market that supports the undermining of wages by perpetual immigration.

      We also need to concentrate on the really elderly say over 85 who will need the bulk of the care. From the MSD figures the over 95's are going too be maybe 42000 which is a tiny portion of our population.


    • Brigid 12.4

      'most of the staff come form SE Asia' because they're cheap.

      • alwyn 12.4.1

        Well yes, but where else are we going to get people who will do the job? After all the Government doesn't seem to be willing to put up the money to pay them any more than a pittance and most elderly people don't have the assets to pay for it directly.

        I am incredibly impressed with the care and attention the staff seem to provide. I have a number of friends who are now in care and they always seem to be in really devoted care when I visit them. I only hope that I can get such care if, or more likely when, I may need it. With more and more people getting to the very elderly age bracket, and with the increasing percentage who succumb to dementia as they get older I think the Government is simply going to have to cut the "nice to haves" to get the money to pay for the essentials.

        • Sacha

          As Redbaron says above, removing profits from the equation allows higher pay.

          Prioritising home-based care would also reduce public capital needed for land and residential centres. Private sector loves those tasty tax-free capital gains.

          • alwyn

            Home-based care doesn't really work when dementia hits. Their partners are typically also elderly and can't handle the work involved in providing care.

            Also a problem is that there simply aren't enough homes available and I believe that financial support for the charitable ones doesn't go up to reflect their real costs when the costs are raised to provide for State designated costs. You often end up with having to take whatever you can get if you have to find a place.

            I'm not that knowledgeable enough about the subject to really discuss the details. I guess I really don't want to think about it.

            • Sacha

              We will still need residential beds for things like dementia, yes. But most older people receiving support do not need that level of care.

              There are 'enough homes available' when the whole aged care industry genuinely shifts towards keeping people in their own homes. They have been talking about it for years. Probably needs a Minister to push it hard and use funding mechanisms to make it stick.

        • millsy

          And what 'nice to haves' are those? Schools, hopsitals, welfare.

          Impose a US style health care, so that going to the ED bankrupts someone?

          • alwyn

            I find it very hard to see much point in things like that cycleway attached to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. From the City across to Northcote is proposed to cost $360 million at the moment I believe. They also plan to add another $300 million to get to Albany.


            There is also a $130 million stupidity for cyclists from Ngauronga to Petone in Wellington. There is already a cycleway along the route but there isn't a nice view of the sea so they want a new one.


            Then we could stop putting hundreds of millions into things like the America's Cup. The cost is already up to $370 million according to this article. That is $250 million for the event, $100 million to make the waterfront look pretty and another $20 million that they aren't defining in detail


            There's a quick $1,160 million of rubbish spending to get started. And no it isn't Schools, Hospitals and welfare.

            • Sacha

              For anyone interested in what Auckland's Skypath and Seapath project actually includes: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/02/26/skypath-and-seapath-moving-ahead/

            • Incognito

              You would say that if you view these things only from a strictly economic PoV, wouldn’t you? Just as well, Government considers other things too, balances these against competing interests, and looks at the whole picture, as it did and is still doing with the pandemic response. In any case, when needed, Government can borrow and try lift income rather than skimping on ‘frivolous pet projects’ that are a waste of time & money in the eyes of B & W purists.


              • alwyn

                Right. Who really gives a stuff about the America's Cup being held in New Zealand?

                Who watched any of the races they have held to date?

                Who can even tell us who the challengers are?

                Apart from Helen Clark I suppose. And Mallard. She seemed to have a real thing the the Cup, and for texting Grant Dalton back in whenever it was and whoever it was won it. Mallard took off for, I think San Diego, to watch it. I stand to be corrected if it was somewhere else. Frankly I didn't care then and I don't care now.

                I sailed when I was young. P class, Cherub and Javelins. That was fun, even if I wasn't very good. Todays America's Cup is a way for Billionaires to play "Mine is bigger than yours" with taxpayers' money.

                • Incognito

                  So myopic, so self-centred, and so predictable 🙁

                  It is not all about you, Alwyn, and not about what you do and don’t care about. Maybe you should join the Taxpayers’ Onion because they also seem to think that way.

                  Objecting because you don’t care is not a strong argument and similarly, using words such “stupidly” and “rubbish” only lend weight to your objections but don’t, in themselves, constitute an argument.

                  So many ‘billionaires’:



                  Of course, the AC is an elite sport, but so is Sailing at the Olympic Games. Do you object to that as well? You must be thrilled about Skateboarding at the Tokyo Olympics because that’s a sport for ordinary people, an honest street sport.


                  • alwyn

                    Your link says 15 million. The story of course says 1.5 million. So what?

                    Do you realise that more than 2,000 times that number of people watched the 2018 Football World Cup? Now that is an audience isn't it?


                    If you really want a heart warming yachting story I much prefer the story of Peter Mander and Jack Cropp. I don't suppose you have ever heard of them have you? They were New Zealand's first Olympic Gold winners in the sport. They won the Sharpie class in the 1956 Olympics. They did it in a boat they built themselves from reclaimed native timber.

                    Now that is a victory I applaud. Not one by hired mercenaries who will swap their country for a bigger paycheck.

                    • Incognito

                      Never thought you cared about 2018 Football World Cup but people never cease to amaze me.

                      There is a very good reason and easy explanation for the link showing “15” instead of “1.5”. Anyway, you’re meant to click on the link, read past the headline, take in the whole article, and then use your intelligence to say something intelligent for a home run. I believe you made it to second base.

                      Of course, if you had read the two links, you’d have realised that many people, in fact, do care about the AC. Unfortunately, that doesn’t suit your narrative. How inconvenient 🙁

                      Are you saying that unless elite sports people stay in NZ they are just “hired mercenaries who will swap their country for a bigger paycheck”? Sounds like you don’t like and care about professional sports much. Does the same apply to artists and scientists, for example? Let me also ask you this, if the pay check is not necessarily bigger but the opportunities are better, do you still consider them “hired mercenaries” or just cheap opportunists?

                      I guess you never studied and/or worked outside of New Zealand, which might explain why your comments come across as small-minded and somewhat narrow, although I do seem to recall some overseas experience on your behalf; maybe it was a long time ago, e.g. in the 50s – those were the days.

                    • alwyn

                      " I believe you made it to second base.".

                      That's all right. I believe that using your analogy one can only say that you struck out.

                      And you clearly have no idea of my background or experience of the world with your other comments.

                      Now off to the local "Royal" yacht club. It's Sunday morning and time for your drinkies on the poop deck with the Admiral or whatever you call the senior member. Do you have to salute him?

                    • Incognito []

                      You might want to read and then discuss this with the Commodore over drinkies: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/life-stages/health-older-people

                      Come back when you have something sensible to say and a positive contribution to make here to the debate, any debate, for that matter. As it is, you just clutter the site with stupid rubbish comments.

              • Nic the NZer

                This isn't an economic point of view, its a very short sighted point of view. New Zealand is self sufficient in money the country can not run short of it. The government is also self sufficient in the money it spends (as the Reserve Bank states its the monopoly issuer).

                What the country is not self sufficient in is the real resources including care workers.

                The stupid result of this debate (and its about privatising retirement savings and reducing public funding) is that it generally shrinks the real resources which the country commands over time and slows down the growth of productivity in NZ.

                In other words the country is made less ready to deal with this demographic retirement shift by the measures proposed to be dealing with it.

                Maybe Alwyn wants to rephrase his proposal as maybe the New Zealand team as aged care workers because that is the only way cutting Americas Cup funding is going to help here.

                • alwyn

                  "that is the only way cutting Americas Cup funding is going to help here.".

                  I don't see why this follows. The resources that have gone into the facilities used by the boats could have instead gone into the building of residential homes for dementia sufferers.

                  The concrete and steel that is going into the skyway could have instead been used in the same manner. The people building these things would have been far better used in building such homes.

                  The actual crews of the boats aren't likely to be of much use. Let them bugger of and ply their trade overseas and let the money that is being spent on paying them instead be paid to people who are actually good at providing care for confused elderly patients.

  13. millsy 13

    As said in an "Open Mike" thread a few weeks ago, a fully centrally planned social market economy with a public sector which is 50-100% larger than it was on Dec 31, 2020.

    Just go the whole hog.

    • Andre 13.1

      No fucking thanks.

      Even the degree of central planning and control in the 70s and 80s New Zealand under Muldoon was way too much for my liking. Let alone what I have seen (thankfully briefly) in other countries with more central planning and control.

      • millsy 13.1.1

        At least there wasnt any homelessness and power bills were cheap. What would you have?

        • Ed

          Only the wealthy are better off thanks to neoliberalism.

          In the 1970s there was no unemployment, no homelessness, no abject poverty, clean waterways and our assets were not owned by foreign interests.

          [Happy New Year, Ed, and best wishes for 2021.

          I could not help but notice that you are fine form today and wanted you to know that you are currently in the race to receive the first ban of the year and you are, in fact, in pole position.

          You have been taking quite a few liberties with the truth, again, and failed to cite your sources, again.

          In OM, you falsely claimed that alcohol is a Class A drug, which it is not, of course. You only admitted that when challenged. The 2010 Law Commission report that you mention did not recommend that alcohol be classified as a Class A drug, as far as I can tell.

          Under the present Post, you refer to Vietnam and quote words by Sonny Liston that he never uttered and never could have. As far as I can tell, it all came from a tweet by one of your Twitterati heroes John Wight (see, I got his name right this time). However, you failed to acknowledge this, again.

          You made some assertions about the 1970s too. Given that these overlap with the Muldoon years, I had some difficulty taking them at face value. So, I did a little bit of research, as much as I can stomach on New Year’s Day and found information that might challenge your assertions.

          Developed economies worldwide reeled at the oil shocks of 1973 and 1978–9. Soaring oil prices had severe consequences for our economy, which relied heavily on imported oil. Our balance of payments worsened, and unemployment and inflation increased. By 1976 New Zealand was in recession.


          The protected industrial economy did have some benefits. It created jobs – there was full employment until the 1970s – and it increased the stock of technical and managerial skills.

          Between 1973 and 1984, New Zealand governments were overwhelmed by a group of inter-related economic crises, including two serious supply shocks (the oil crises), rising inflation, and increasing unemployment. Robert Muldoon, the National Party (conservative) prime minister between 1975 and 1984, pursued increasingly erratic macroeconomic policies.


          In 1975, the Housing Corporation referred to the ‘serious effects’ of a housing shortage with ‘many situations of overcrowding’, and a 1979 pilot survey of Auckland found that numerous people did not have access to adequate housing. [11] Surveys conducted in the early 1980s concluded there was a ‘housing crisis’ in Christchurch, and in Auckland homelessness also appeared to be a ‘significant problem’. [12]


          Since the late 1970s there have been many attempts to address the problem of homelessness. One of the issues related to homelessness is defining what it is. In 1979, Davey and Barrington (1979) divided the solution into two categories.

          The causes of homelessness have also been the subject of debate since the 1970s. In the conclusion to her research – Homelessness in the Auckland Region – Percy (1982) cites one of the main causes of homelessness as the high cost of private rentals in relation to income, although this is frequently compounded by other contributing factors.


          This year, and from now on, you must do your own fact-checking and not leave this to other commenters and/or Moderators. This is your warning – Incognito]

          • Stuart Munro

            no abject poverty

            I imagine some disadvantaged groups would remember that differently – but broadly speaking – the fastest growing inequality in the OECD comes with consequences.

            Labour need to face up to the horrific failure they have been to working people who relied on them – and work flat out on making things right. There is only a brief window before the next crisis hits – it must not be squandered.

          • Incognito

            See my Moderation note @ 4:03 PM.

            • Adrian Thornton

              " Under the present Post, you refer to Vietnam and quote words by Sonny Liston that he never uttered and never could have" why do you say that? Liston was alive until 1970, he without doubt knew what oppression meant, so could have easily related to the cause of the North Vietnamese, as many Black American boxers did, famously Ali of course, so why not Liston?

              Further John Wight wrote "This Boxing Game: A Study in Beautiful Brutality" so I guess he knows more about boxing than you or me.


            • Adrian Thornton

              Sorry about that, my mistake, I am always a bit defensive when it comes to Sonny Liston, he seemed to have always got the short end of the stick in life, has hardly been acknowledged for being without doubt one of the greatest Heavy Weights to enter the ring.

              Muhammad Ali was extremely lucky that their rematch was postponed for six months only days before the scheduled fight, Liston couldn't maintain his peak form (no one knows how old he actually is, but he was probably the better part of 30 at that time), some say he was in the best form he ever had, so who knows what would have happened had he fought Ali then?…..anyway who cares, I have just always felt a bit sorry for him that’s all.

          • solkta

            Not exactly true on the waterways thing either:

            However, as the city grew, measurements taken downstream of Hamilton city reveal contaminants increased tenfold between the 1950s and the early 1970s.

            In those days, Hamilton's wastewater was discharged to the [Waikato] river, after holding in 14 large septic tanks. The tanks themselves were also emptied into the river up to three times each year. The river also took sewage from other towns, along with effluent from the Horotiu freezing works, Kinleith paper mill, power projects and dairy farms.

            Limited monthly monitoring of water quality in the Waikato River began in 1980, with a more comprehensive programme beginning in 1987. We now sample at 10 sites along its length. See a map of our monitoring sites. Analysis of these records indicates how water quality has changed.


            • millsy

              Waterway pollution comes down to the fact that farmers have seen more $$$ in diary, rather than sheep and beef.

              Had our farming stayed largely sheep, like it did up to the 1990's, then we wouldnt have the issues with water way pollution than we do now.

        • Andre

          I want a mixed economy where there is a private sector that does the things private capitalism does well, a strong state sector for things a private capitalist sector does not do well, and a strong welfare safety net for those in need.

          Private capitalism does well for producing things where there is a low barrier to entry, room for innovation and product differentiation, it's easy for consumers to be informed and choose what works for them. Food, clothing, arts and entertainment and sports, transport, housing (at least when the market isn't as fucked up as NZ is right now), some kinds of insurance, communications (except for the infrastructure where there's a natural monopoly – wires and fibres in the street) etc.

          State sector provision generally works better where there's natural monopolies, consumers aren't in a position to discern differences and choose what works for them. Electricity, water, healthcare, education, insurance for major capital items, physical networks for communications and power and transport, regulatory and licensing functions.

          I reckon NZ has gone too far in letting private actors take over some functions that would be better done by the state, and in forcing what are effectively state organisations to try to act like they were private. I'd like to see that turned around. But that's really only a small change from where we are now to get to a better balanced mixed economy with a better safety net.

          Homelessness really isn't a planned economy vs private economy thing. Looking at homelessness rates around the world, there's very little correlation between homelessness rates and where a country's balance lies on the private – state continuum. NZ is generally considered to have a strong safety net, yet our homeless rate is much higher than bastions of heartless private capitalism such as the USA and UK and Switzerland. High homelessness results from an explicit government choice to have it (or not), and successive NZ governments have failed to make a decent humane choice going back decades now.

          • millsy


          • Brendon Harre

            Good post. Agree : )

          • RedBaronCV

            Agree I'm for the mixed market economy with rather more than now in the government corner. Also want some mechanism that doesn't allow public assets to be sold every time we get a right wing government. I also object to the forced collection of taxes to disburse to non govt entities to provide for major society needs and saying that is a market solution.

            I'm also for a solid tidying up of the immigration policies. We seem to be re colonising ourselves and giving access to our health etc to people who sod off and never contribute to our economy, which feels pretty dumb, rather than training and developing our own workforce. None of this has increased our GDP per capita.

            And we need to empower our workforce to take advantage of all the skills and training that they do have and to share the rewards more equally.

            So in policy terms in the next little while:

            Empower the workforce in the bigger companies by enabling the workforce in them to collectivise and nominate candidates to join boards etc. Just don't call it unions and stress utilising their education and knowledge. Tax high incomes and stop up loop holes a lot harder.

            Use the Manapouri power to act as a lever to rearrange the electricity market back into government hands and point the distribution network into the direction that supports on site generation ( so we can all have solar etc).

            Sort out the housing market by using every lever we have. Every little bit counts from stopping landbanking, to taxing empty homes in Auckland, to making it difficult to own large numbers of properties. All with a view to making sure we don't need to pay the accommodation supplement but instead put that money into social ownership and first home housing support.

            Getting housing and basic services costs down also mean that low wages and benefits go further.

            Basically I’m for something like the Denmark solution where we are all middle class.

          • Craig H

            Nicely said. I'd be inclined to say that any market for necessities of life inherently has the potential for market failure due to not everyone having the funds to participate in said market, but housing tends to be the big issue since it costs so much more than other necessities.

            I feel that the most politically palatable solution to homelessness is to build shedloads of state houses whether directly through Kainga Ora or by funding other social housing providers, but that's still a large logistical challenge.

          • RedLogix

            Good comment Andre.

            Basically NZ's housing/homelessness problem boils down to decades of poor foresight by virtually everyone involved:

            1. NZ really does have a relatively limited amount of good land to build on; supply is naturally constrained. The obvious response which is to intensify has been resisted at a local political level since forever
            2. Lacking other reliable means housing became our default investment portfolio. Again this is largely due to scale, our stock and finance industries always lacked depth, diversity and a relatively small number of insiders wielded too much influence
            3. Our building industry, with some honourable exceptions, has demonstrated remarkably little initiative, innovation or competitiveness. Two thirds of our older housing stock needs urgent remodelling with a D10; and costs for new builds are absurd
            4. Other costs continue to rise with little constraint. Routine bills such as rates, insurance, water, power and maintenance can leave little change from $10k pa, and big chunk of many household incomes
            5. We lack a diversity of home occupancy modes. At present you really have only three choices, ownership, private sector renting, or social housing. If you fall between the cracks, then homelessness it is. Other nations offer more variants and paths toward occupancy and ownership
            6. And finally we need to realise that in one sense we're victims of our success; NZ is a safe and trusted nation and there really aren't all that many of them worldwide. The demand for our housing stock will always be strong and persistent, and absent other measures to control it, will always put pressure on prices

            It's a complex stew, even these six points barely touch the sides, and there are no silver bullets. It's taken decades to create this mess and no single govt stands any chance of undoing it. But we can change direction; a wholly new permanent Housing Commission tasked with a multi-year review and collaboration across all sectors involved is something well within this govt's scope.

    • Ed 13.2

      Totally with you Millsy.

      The COVID experience has shown that socialist nations and countries with centrally planned economies have managed the virus well.

      Neoliberalism has been a superspreader for the disease.

      People above profits.

      Capitalism is the disease, socialism the cure.

      • Ed 13.2.1

        To further my point.

        The UK had over 50000 COVID cases yesterday.

        Vietnam has had over 30 times less than this in total since the start of the pandemic. Just over 1400 cases and 35 deaths in a country of about 96 million.

        In the words of Sonny Liston

        I’d rather be a lamppost in Ho ChinMinh City than the Mayor of London.

        Amazing what you can achieve when you put people above money.

        • alwyn

          That is a great story about Sonny Liston Ed.

          However I would love to know when he said it. After all Saigon was renamed to Ho Chi Min City in 1975. Sonny died in 1970.

          Do you use a Ouiga board to communicate with the dead?

          • Andre

            Liston’s actual words appear to be "I'd rather be a lamppost in Denver than the mayor of Philadelphia."

            Having lived in Philadelphia for five years, I'm with Liston on that.

        • Red

          Hey Ed how many credible socialist vaccines are there, just asking

          • Incognito

            Piss off!

            The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be available at cost price across the World.

            • alwyn

              Now that is a bold claim.

              Where does it come from and who, in a position to do so, has promised that it will happen.

              You must have a link for something as momentous as this.

                • alwyn

                  Thank you. I hadn't seen this development.

                  It is a little more qualified than your first statement but it still looks pretty good, particularly if it turns out that protection provided by the vaccine is long lived.

                  The only real qualification seems to be that the availability at cost price is only while the pandemic lasts. After that they appear to be interested in making money out of it. If you have to get injections annually, like the flu jab it won't be quite so good, at least in New Zealand which won't be considered to be in the low income family of nations.

                  It is also something of a shame that the Oxford vaccine only seems to have a 62% efficacy and the Pfizer and Moderna are claiming 90+%.

                  Still if the people most at risk get the higher efficacy drugs and the bulk of the population get the Oxford one it should give good overall results. The flu vaccine, after all, is only about 50% effective I believe. The Oxford one has a really great advantage that it doesn't need super-cold storage so it will be much easier to get out into the field.


                  • Andre

                    Be wary of comparing the headline numbers for efficacy.

                    The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna studies relied on participants having symptoms and getting tested for the virus. The Oxford/AstraZeneca trial had some participants regularly screened for asymptomatic infection. The different study design means it is not entirely fair to compare the percentages between trials. More information is needed before we can say anything about how these vaccines affect asymptomatic infections or transmission.


                    Also, that Guardian piece mentions the 90% efficacy for the Oxford vaccine when the first dose was a half dose. Be very wary of that claim too. Apparently the actual number of trial participants that got infected was 3 out of over 2000 in that trial group. That's much too small a number for meaningful conclusions- the confidence interval for the efficacy % is something like 60% to 96%

                    • alwyn

                      Thank you.

                      I was aware of the bit about the very small numbers in the Oxford vaccine with the half-dose, full-dose scenario but not about the testing approach in the other 2 vaccines.

                      Has anyone got anything at all yet on how long the vaccination lasts?

                      If only it could be as good as measles or polio which are pretty much for life. I had polio in the 52/53 outbreak, just before the vaccines became available. I recovered completely to all appearances but over the last few years I have been discovering you never really do. That was one horrible disease.

                  • Incognito

                    This license deal between Oxford University and AstraZeneca was signed ages ago and anybody who has followed the news about Covid vaccines would have known about this, IMO.

                    I believe there are special provisions in place for developing countries beyond the pandemic but I am not 100% sure about that, although the following seems to confirm that they, through an agreement through COVAX, will make the vaccine available “…on a non-profit basis ‘in perpetuity’ to low- and middle-income countries in the developing world”. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/dec/21/inside-oxfords-coronavirus-vaccine-development

                    Anyway, you seem to like qualified and nuanced information:

                    The ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance] case for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

                    Why it doesn’t pay for pharma companies to profit from the pandemic in the long run.


                    PS my first statement was to Red and clearly qualified with the first two words.

  14. arkie 14

    Set the tax-free income threshold, minimum wage and the baseline benefit to the living wage rate, to rebalance the ‘labour market’.

  15. Macro 15

    I want this government to be far more proactive wrt homelessness than they have been to date. A good start was made in March/April with the move into the lockdown – but as soon as that was over, and people were free to travel around the country, motels found that the guests who had arrived off the streets were no longer welcome. And so we are now back to square one, at least we are here in Thames. I am in the process of writing to the Associate Minister wrt to my friends here who are back on the street. Some sleep in the relative luxury of a tent hidden in the bush behind the town, others find shelter in an alcove behind a building, and others under a tree in a quiet part of town.

    It is interesting to note the priority accorded to housing the homeless by the government – is though an Associate Minister (Marama Davidson, for whom I have great respect) – but she will be outside of Cabinet! So just how much funding she will control, and just how much say she will have in budget priorities, is to be seen. In my humble opinion I believe that the best way to address this ongoing festering sore on our society is not just to throw money at the matter, but for tangata whenua with the backing of government to engage meaningfully with these people and to find out what their wishes and desires are. It is not a one solution fits all. They have their rights and independence and we must respect that and treat them with the mana and aroha they deserve.

  16. Treetop 16

    Not just the government but every MP go and live on the street for a week. I would be kind and allow them a week of job seeker payment.

    Nothing like first hand experience.

    • Sabine 16.1

      a week? lol.

      they have done that before the sleep in the streets to get some cash donations from the citizens of the country, so that the government don't have to do the job of looking after 'all the citizens' and look as to where we are.

      Nah, they should earn no more then a nurse, a teacher or a cop (if we talk about 'essential jobs') for all their tenure.

      And if they can't pay a house for their families then they can go file for an accomodation benefit.

      Maybe that would change a thing or two.

  17. mosa 17

    What should Labour do ?

    Change the party name to the Social Democrats of NZ.

    They haven't been " Labour " since 1972 or even come close to delivering a manifesto that lives up to the principles they were founded on.

    A non neoliberal agenda ( the real handbrake ) to tackle the problems they say they want to solve would be a good starting point.

    • Phillip ure 17.1

      but they aren't social democrats..

      they are neoliberal incrementalists..

      the 'ninc' party..?

  18. Pat 18

    Their job

    • Sabine 18.1


    • Herodotus 18.2

      How about reintroducing all those policies that we were told NZ1st blocked, and those platforms that the 2017 election Labour proposed.

      I think we can all agree the housing affordability issue will not be resolved, unless unforeseen market issues intervein, pity as most social issues are founded directly as a consequence of this 😪

  19. Grafton Gully 19

    Persuade our small obedient population to welcome cooperation with China in protecting and developing our EEZ and Antarctica.


  20. Cave Johnson 20

    I don't trust complex interventions to achieve their goals. The simple intervention of steadily increasing the minimum wage however seems likely to achieve the biggest gain for the least overhead.

  21. millsy 21

    To be honest, in all seriousness, sending a cheque to each man, woman and child in the country as a one off stimulus/relief payment payment, would be a good start.

  22. Steve Bradley 22

    There is a tale re-told about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, after an audience with a group of ordinary citizens seeking relief during the Great Depression, saying:

    "I agree with you. Now go out there and make me do it."

    We can all write our own wish lists for what we'd like this new government to do; and the lists would contain many similarities.

    The trick is to mount a broad political push for the remedies we seek.

    Some push may come from groups of agitated voters seeking relief.

    Equally as useful could be the Labour Party organising itself and potential allies to 'lead' the movement calling for relief.

    While Jacinda, Grant and our whole parliamentary team hold the middle ground, it gives us – out in the provinces – the space and time to beef up our organisation.

    The space and time – looking inward — to try to further coordinate some of the disparate sections of the NZ Labour Party into a more integrated whole body; still with its several parts but more regionally coordinated so they can move together with purpose when and as required in the struggles to come.

    From the point of view of the NZ Labour party – looking outward – the main task is to build alliances between and coordinate with other sections of society who have even a smidgen of progressive potential in the endless struggle against anti-people policies.

    In the Auckland-Northland region are organising tasks for which the party can begin to plan now.

    One is for an Auckland-Northland regional regular coordinating forum bringing together into a learning and policy environment:

    • A.N.R.C. active L.E.C. regional reps
    • Active reps from affiliated & non-affiliated unions
    • Maori & Pacifika active reps
    • Other social, political, environmental reps, by invitation, from time to time

    The purpose of these meetings would be to coordinate our collective understanding and efforts into a coherent force which can influence the social democratic mass of working people in a progressive direction.

    Recent Example where we could have done better: response to the Auckland Council ‘emergency budget’.

    To use a rugby metaphor: Labour needs to tighten up the scrum, push harder, and in the same direction.



    p style=”margin-left:30px”>

    • Sabine 22.1

      we made them 'do it' when we elected them. Or else they are of no use to us and can go home and get a job in the private industry or in PMs case write a memoir and get a job at a think tank of no importance or influence.

      They got elected, now do the job that we pay them for. how bout that?

  23. Sabine 23

    Maybe really they could just pretend to do something?

    Something about this?


    "You don't have any rights because you're not supposed to live permanently in a campground … but because there's nowhere else to go the reality is people are living [here] full-time."

    Maureen Ward said there was a stigma attached to people living in campgrounds, which made finding work hard, trapping them on the benefit and out of the housing market.

    "Nobody in this campground is a no-hoper. They are good people who just can't afford to rent or can't afford to buy."

    She said things did not need to be this bad. If benefits were to increase she believed it would go a long way.

    "The Government needs to see that we are not in this position because we are lazy, we're not in this position because my husband doesn't want to work – he would much rather go out to work – and that we're not going to be able to work. So why should we have to renew our medical certificate every two years?"

    As she continues to wait for a change in income, or circumstances, the emergency housing waitlist she and Geoff are on continues to grow.

    This month the housing register hit a record high – nearly 22,000 applicants – with the Government this week saying many of those waiting are unlikely to receive a house.

    So for now it's campground Christmases as the housing crisis continues.

  24. Stuart Munro 24

    A heartwarming story – on the face of it. Two US nurses move to NZ.

    It wasn't so very long ago, however, that NZ was able to train our own nurses. It was a median wage job, a path upwards, and somewhat stable before the quasi-corporate model laid waste to our public sector.

    Good luck to these two – but one of the things Labour should do, is to get kiwis into any jobs substantially above the living wage, and make the innumerable dodgy recruiters who have sprung up in response to our weak and unenforced labour laws crawl over red hot broken glass before they can get a work permit for anyone.

    Train NZ nurses – no exceptions.

    • Incognito 24.1

      It wasn't so very long ago, however, that NZ was able to train our own nurses.

      When did it cease and when did all Nursing Schools in NZ close? It is news to me, bigly news.

      Train NZ nurses – no exceptions.

      What do you mean with that? Do you mean more Māori nurses?


      • RedBaronCV 24.1.1

        Yes the immigration free for all needs to stop. Somebody else who will need a house. As well as training we need to improve our employment offerings to tempt back some of the trained who have left the industry. And make any refresher courses and up skilling free.

        • Incognito

          What improvements to training do you have in mind?

        • Pat

          One of the drivers for Kiwis to emigrate is the unaffordability of housing….you can offer all the training and employment you like but if you cant afford suitable housing you are pushing it uphill with a stick

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  • Another step towards improved supermarket competition
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  • Black Ferns to be celebrated at Parliament
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    6 days ago
  • Speech to Aotearoa Refugee Hui
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  • Global climate talks underline need for domestic action
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  • Defence Minister visits Ukraine and Poland
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  • Stuart Nash to attend OECD meetings
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  • Defence Minister meets with UK counterpart and visits NZDF personnel
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  • Government takes action to reduce gambling harm from pokies
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  • Speech to the Asia New Zealand Foundation
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