20 Nov 2009

Nosferatu Rises Yet Again.- The Twilight of New Zealand

The NACT vampire, Roger Douglas, has risen further from his grave carrying the instructions his assistant, Rodney Hide, will champion, as official Key lead policies, into the cabinet where the ministers are too busy rorting the taxpayer to scrutinise the sketched out legislation presented within the ACT written briefing papers. Given that Rodney's scenario, outlined at his ACT fundraiser breakfast in Christchurch is true (and judging from the Rape of Auckland legislation one doesn't doubt it) then we can see this NACT government presiding over the wholesale wreckage of the welfare state in order to satisfy the blood-lust of the corporate vampires forever circling the lobbies of this government.

Douglas' alternate budget,given prominence on the ACT website, will see,as reported in the national party's apologist organ, The Herald, the following:

A flat income tax rate, of one dollar in six, above a threshold of $31,200 with a higher tax-free threshold for those with dependents. (discredited when he proposed it during the 1980s - but revived here to capitalise on the NACT cabinet's memory losses.)

GST would rise to the same rate (16.66 per cent).

Company tax would be abolished, to be replaced by a flat asset tax of 0.8 per cent for all enterprises and for households with assets of more than $1 million. (who will be sucking whose blood? Another bite into the State's income rather than investment in the welfare of the country.)

Sir Roger's Budget would cut Government expenditure by more than a quarter within one year.

People would be expected to pay for their children's primary and secondary education directly; tax credits would be available for those whose tax cuts were insufficient to cover those costs directly.

They would also be expected to take out catastrophic health insurance and meet more minor health costs like GP visits, out of pocket. Accident, sickness and unemployment insurance would also be a matter of individual responsibility.

(So why not go the whole hog and remove all State support mechanisms and reintroduce voluntary charities and localised parish poor laws so the wealthy can feel good about themselves as they gaze over their estates?)

Trade barriers should be unilaterally removed and restrictions on the use of land, from zoning or the Resource Management Act, should be removed.

Labour markets should be further deregulated and immigration rules should be radically changed "allowing hard-working and entrepreneurial immigrants to freely enter New Zealand".

(Let's really, really screw the worker and reward the exploiter - and why would any hard-working, entrepreneurial individual want to come to a country whose policy is to exploit and screw them into the ground or is entrepreneurial code for "NACT only rewards those who know how to dine at the public trough and then claim justification (like "all my mates are doing it" Hide claimed )for the naked rort?"

14 Nov 2009

Is The Worm Turning??

Does Tracy Barnett's opinion piece in the NACT apologist paper herald the spring of disillusionment with the NACT Government of Engkeylish?

The tone of this article certainly indicates a dose of reality checking setting in - at least with one journalist.

The Biege Brigade - Key and his inaction

The scariest moment for any opinion columnist is when she discovers she doesn't have an opinion - and I just got there.

One year on from John Key taking office, and it feels as if New Zealand has entered the Age of Beige - and I can't think of anything more terrifying.

Our new Prime Minister is friendly. He genially pays for his wife's overseas airfares, his shirts are tidy, his comments evenly modulated.

When my American family asks if I like him, I reply, "he's fine", like someone's inquiring about how your school uniform fits. After that, I lose the plot. I can't tell you what he stands for or against. The depth of my analysis is that to his everlasting credit, he looks nothing like his dog-toy incarnation.

Admit it: John Key's most memorable moment in one year of office was seeing him on the stage of The David Letterman Show, smiling like somebody's brother-in-law you'd forgotten you went to school with.

When my colleague's column waxed rapturously of Key's first year, like our Olympian had just gotten a perfect 10 from a Russian judge, I was honestly befuddled.

I only know that my malaise is uncomfortable because it, too, is beige. Once in a while, my dander kicks in at his ministers' misguided priorities that seem to make stealth cuts to those least able to defend themselves - at-risk youth, the adult illiterate, disabled children, sexual abuse survivors.

In my newbie Kiwi way, this appeals most to my sense of fairness. But I'm waiting, waiting for this Prime Minister to fill in his paint-by-number canvas so I can see some kind of the bigger picture.

John Key's greatest asset, and deficit, is that he's managed not to show us much of his hand - and hence, where he's going.

It's as if we ordered a competent business manager for our Prime Minister, and forgot to ask for a leader, and no one seems to have minded much.

When John Key made Afghanistan his war - and it is indeed his war now - he quietly decided to re-deploy 71 SAS troops as though it was a business deal. I looked around for a reaction and found - nothing.

He's wagering his payoff will be some political capital with the new, sexier American president. Maybe joint military exercises or a softer approach to free trade.

As journalist Jon Stephenson put it so well, John Key is still a trader at heart. But my fear is that he is gambling with Kiwi lives. It seems we are content not to notice - until someone's son comes home in a box.

Face it, Afghanistan hasn't exactly been raging conversation at quiz night. There's a war on, and we're in it.

The perception, I suspect, for most people is that this is America's war, not ours. We've been graciously reassured by our new Prime Minister that our soldiers won't be put in dangerous positions, as if he can stage-manage roadside bombs.

I've written a few columns about it. But it is the silence that scares the hell out of me. It is as if I am back in America in 2003, when war was still far away from anyone's daily experience, and we were, to eerily quote Wayne Mapp upon his recent return from Afghanistan, "getting on with the job, so to speak" - in the same breath as much of Europe, and finally the American public, is questioning where this tragic fog of war is taking us.

John Key's stale, indefinable reassurance that Kiwis are "fighting terror" sounds like a punch line without the joke, eight years on.

The cost of war can't be measured by accruing political capital, as though it can be banked for a bigger prize. What we all seem to forget, with each successive generation, is that war is a moral choice with a huge price tag - a life exploded, a future dissolved.

Turn around, John Key, and show your colours. Define your administration as being an international leader, not a follower of American-pulled strings.

I don't know if I can stomach watching the mistakes of my former home being duplicated in my new one. If there is anything I feel I've earned the right to say, after watching two American wars unfold, and thousands of my countrymen die, it is to warn us all that there is nothing beige about the colour of Kiwi blood.

Lead us out of Afghanistan.

www.traceybarnett.co.nz

12 Nov 2009

The Free Enterprise dream - NACT agenda revealed



The cartoon in the NACT newspaper -The Herald - reveals the John Key dream - Free business enterprise and the stasi state of no individual liberties or civil rights.

6 Nov 2009

EDUCATION UNDER TOLLEY

How do these people survive?

ONE

Recently, when I went to McDonald's I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9 or 12 Chicken McNuggets.
I asked for a half dozen nuggets.
'We don't have half dozen nuggets,' said the teenager at the counter.
'You don't?' I replied.
'We only have six, nine, or twelve,' was the reply.
'So I can't order a half dozen nuggets, but I can order six?'
'That's right.'
So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets


TWO

I was checking out at the local Countdown with just a few items and the lady behind me put her things on the belt close to mine. I picked up one of those 'dividers' that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our things so they wouldn't get mixed.
After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the 'divider', looking it all over for the bar code so she could scan it.
Not finding the bar code, she said to me, 'Do you know how much this is?'
I said to her 'I've changed my mind; I don't think I'll buy that today.'
She said 'OK,' and I paid her for the things and left.
She had no clue to what had just happened.

THREE
A woman at work was seen putting a credit card into her floppy drive and pulling it out very quickly.
When I inquired as to what she was doing, she said she was shopping on the Internet and they kept asking for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM 'thingy.'

FOUR
Last month we hired a Typist who was none too swift. One day she was typing and turned to a secretary and said, 'I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?' 'Just use paper from the photocopier', the secretary told her. With that, the intern took her last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five 'blank' copies.

FIVE
The NACT Education Minister was told she would be given a "helicopter overview"of tertiary education in N.Z. and wondered why she was given a set of briefing papers rather than a real helicopter ride over the city.

SIX
The same cabinet minister was given her meeting schedule that included a meeting with the Vice-Chancellors of the NZ Universities. She refused the meeting as she thought she was being insulted as she wasn't scheduled to meet the Chancellors.

Perhaps she want's the public to join her... judging by the earlier examples she's succeeding.

NACT Humour

The Economy is So Bad under a NACT Government that....

• I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

• I ordered a burger at McDonalds and the kid behind the
counter asked, "Can you afford fries with that?"

• CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

• If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds,"
you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

• Parents in Remuera fired their nannies and learned
their children's names.

• That NACT MPs have to take their girlfriends on holidays to preserve their emotional stability as the evidence that their policies don't work stack up.

And finally...

• NACT says they are looking into this Perk Abuse scandal.

Oh Great! The guys who have their hands deep in the taxpayers pockets are
being investigated by the people who claim they don't own the house their family trust own and can therefore rort the taxpayer for rent and who take their girlfriend on an all expenses paid overseas trip to attend a wedding and visit an amusement park while claiming to be a "perk-buster" and have their noses even deeper into the trough!!!
Really makes you feel confident doesn't it?

29 Oct 2009

Hypocrisy and Idiocy in NACT

The recent headlines coming from the NACT government are hardly ones to write home about.

First we have the erstwhile PM pontificating at the CTU conference telling the teachers that they should take a salary cut so the NACT govt can then pay the school support staff properly, then we have "Double Dipton" declaring that the change in "ownership"of his family home in wellington had nothing to do with him being able to rort more of the taxpayers' money in "accommodation allowances" so that he could be a permanent resident in Dipton - a township that hasn't seen him as any more than a temporary resident since he left there to go to school. adding to that rort we then are witness to him being paraded in an election campaign style advertising blitz by none other than the state broadcasting corporation as the front man for a programme named after him and all being declared as being honest and transparent!

Add to that the revelation that the NACT govt is now going to privatise ACC, flog off local body assets, especially water, in the race to "super-size" Auckland and the path to corruption gets even smoother.
Then, today, we get a report that the Herald's favourite "perk buster" and supporter of local democracy, Rodney Hide, has been caught rorting the taxpayer as well. As this story demonstrates:

ACT leader Rodney Hide says he disagrees with the perk that gives MPs a taxpayer-funded 90 percent fare discount for themselves and their partners - but he still used it to take his girlfriend overseas.

The air fares for Louise Crome's trip to London, Canada and the United States are reported to have cost $25,163.

Mr Hide's fares and accommodation cost $26,872.

He said today the perk was "a silly anachronism" but it existed and he couldn't change it.

"I don't agree with that rule but I'm not a martyr," he said on Radio New Zealand.

"I checked twice with the prime minister that it was acceptable. It got all the ticks."

To make it worse Rodney "I'm a little piggy too" Hide declares that because it's alright with Key and the others are doing it too he'll dig his hands into the public purse to entertain his girlfriend with overseas trips again.

Lapsed perkbuster Rodney Hide says he will use his MP's travel expenses again to take his partner overseas.

The Act leader was making no apologies yesterday for the public purse paying $25,163 for his partner, Louise Crome, to accompany him as Local Government Minister on a Super City fact-finding visit to Britain, Canada and the United States, and some domestic travel.

Mr Hide is the second Act MP to run up a big globetrotting bill on the taxpayer by using a travel perk for longstanding MPs.

In July, it was revealed that Act's Sir Roger Douglas, Parliament's most vocal campaigner against wasteful spending of taxpayers' money, had spent $44,411 on travel - most of it on a trip he and his wife took to London to see their son and grandchildren. The figures emerged under a new quarterly reporting regime of transparency for parliamentary spending.

If this isn't hypocrisy in action and being given the "BIG TIC" by the John Key I'm at a loss to discover what might be.

Isn't it about time there was a real public outcry at the high handed manner this NACT government is behaving?

18 Oct 2009

Is this a picture of future leaders?


The recent exploits of ABG boys while on a trip tothe Auckland museum do not give a lot of credence to the claims that the school is educating future leaders of New Zealand but then the activities of the present NACT government would indicate that the bully boy mentality these boys are "worshipping" is alive and well in the corridors of power around the Engkeylish power base.

9 Sep 2009

Undervalued profession

This story gives the lie to Tolley's idea that graduates with MA's will rush to be fast tracked into teaching in New Zealand schools. It also demonstrates that the attacks on teachers, with the insistence that they are over paid and underworked by this NACT government is nothing more than shallow political rhetoric from those without a sustainable education policy.

Teachers earn below OECD levels

Thursday Sep 10, 2009

Primary and secondary teachers in New Zealand earn well below the OECD average, and thousands of dollars less than their Australian counterparts, a report says.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Education at a Glance 2009 report compared the salaries of teachers in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education, at a starting salary and after 15 years of experience.

The salary figures, in US dollars, were based on buying power parity, which eliminates price differences among countries.

New Zealand teachers at each level of education started on about US$19,236 ($28,044) - significantly less than the OECD average starting salary of US$28,687 at primary level, US$31,000 at lower secondary level and US$32,183 at upper secondary level.

After 15 years, New Zealand teachers reached about US$37,213 at all three levels of teaching, compared with OECD averages of US$39,007 at primary, US$41,993 at lower secondary and US$44,782 at upper secondary levels.

Australian teachers, on the other hand, consistently earned hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more than the OECD average.

They began on about US$32,259 at primary level and US$32,406 at both secondary levels, and reached up to US$44,245 at primary level and US$44,942 at secondary level after 15 years.

In New Zealand, female teachers comprise 98.8 per cent of pre-primary education teachers, 83.3 per cent of primary teachers and 65.7 per cent of lower secondary education teachers.

The number of female teachers dropped to 57.8 per cent at upper secondary education level and to 49.9 per cent at tertiary level.

Teacher-student ratios were slightly smaller than OECD averages, while the net time spent teaching was above the OECD average.

Teachers' unions said the figures confirmed teachers were underpaid and undervalued, the Dominion Post reported.

PPTA president Kate Gainsford and Educational Institute president Frances Nelson both said change was needed to make the industry more attractive and to retain teachers.

7 Sep 2009

NACT import failed programmes from failed Bush policies

Let be said that Ann Tolley knows failure when she sees it and that she is prepared to follow the tried and true NACT philosophy that if it failed in the US it must be good and NZ will be able to tweak it with No 8 wire & baling twine. Here she is ready to screw up the NZ education system with a discredited US scheme. These two stories illustrate her lack of wisdom and knowledge.

Minister explores 'fast-track' teachers
By NATHAN BEAUMONT - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 07/09/2009
Prospective teachers could skip specialist university training and be fast-tracked into the classroom under a plan to cope with an ageing workforce.
Under the scheme, anyone who already has a master's degree could bypass teacher's college and learn on the job.
The suggestion follows a high-level meeting between Education Minister Anne Tolley and controversial United States schools leader Michelle Rhee.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/2839264/Minister-explores-fast
-track-teachers
<http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/2839264/Minister-explores-fas
t-track-teachers>
And here is the research and argument to prove both Tolley and Rhee wrong.
(Previous daily news had comment from Australia - US expert condemns Teach for Australia 17 August 2009
http://www.nswtf.org.au/media/latest_2009/20090817_berliner.html
<http://www.nswtf.org.au/media/latest_2009/20090817_berliner.html> )

2 Sep 2009

I'm a Victim therefore my argument is correct.

I'm a victim therefore my argument is correct and you're a big bully for challenging me.

While including the statement that perhaps the pupils' teacher deserved to be fired was extreme and unwarranted,there are not many times that I agree with Michael Laws for I regard him in the same light as Tom Scott portrayed him back when he was an M.P. - an opportunistic opinionated shallow individual- but to read that he is being accused of "bullying" because he gave a group of primary school pupils the courtesy of a reply to their letters arguing for a change to the spelling of Wanganui and chose to point out, very frankly, that their argument was based on somewhat tenuous grounds and that there were more urgent and deeper matters affecting Moaridom that they could be justifiably concerned about is unbelievable.

One of the problems in New Zealand society is the lack of robust, rational debate on issues that affect our lives (ironically the shallowness of that debate is partly attributable to the talk-back hosts, like Michael Laws, who do not encourage rationality on their radio shows, favouring, instead, the emotional, argumentum ad homenum as it gets better ratings.). The lack of robust, rational debate in the media and in our classrooms means that when pupils and teachers are faced with a frank and pointed rebuttal of their favoured position they immediately cry "BULLYING!!!" and then retreat into their corners to stroke their belief convinced that now they have painted themselves as victims their position is now even more correct and deserving of total public support.

So it is with this response to Mr.Laws' letters to the pupils of Otaki School.
The episode is a beat up, a proverbial storm in a tea-cup, that serves none of the "victims" of the "bullying" well.
Let's encourage robust, informed debate and, perhaps, our society can focus on real issues with a greater sense of arguing based on substantial and substantive information.

24 Aug 2009

Supercity smackers

One of the great ironies of the NZ political scene is that of the ACT party. It was a party founded on the Friedmanite principles of "the individual behaves with total economic rationality and, therefore needs no assistance from the State tomake the best decisions" and yet the representatives of this political philosophy in the NZ government continually fail to live up or down to this principle.
First we have the clown prince of ACT- Rodney Hide (the only one of the ACT bully squad who professes to represent an electorate ) - who appears to believe that if he threatens to throw his toys out of the cot he will be able to continue on with his campaign to remove the democratic rights of ratepayers to be represented at the local level by someone who actually lives and works in their ward instead of by the "big business" interest whose concerns do not reflect those of the ratepayer. This is nothing more than corporate dictatorship being imposed on the ratepayers.
Then we have ACT's justice spokesman, Garrett, whose belief system incorporates Hide's bully boy attitudes and adds such niceties as inappropriate sexual suggestions to staff and threats of retribution against any state employee who chooses to criticise any policy he puts forward... like privatising the state prison service for the benefit of the foreign corporate raider.
And now we have "Let's smack-em down" Boscowen who is loudly campaigning on behalf of the religious right, both here in NZ and with interference assistance from the USA, for NZ to return to the pre-repeal of section 59 situation which allowed "responsible" parents to claim justifiable force when they injured their children in the act of disciplining them.
All three of these righteous men appear to have no clear idea about responsible individual behaviour or principle apart from that of the dictatorship of the selfish bully.
Mind you their founder Roger (Nosferatu ) Douglas certainly provided the foundation for such behaviour so I presume we shouldn't be too surprised.
Their sole reason for existence is to prop up one of the most inept and rorting governments of recent years.

19 Aug 2009

Come off it Key - suspend your errant MP until he is proven innocent!

The Double Standard rides again. If Key was as principled as he portrays himself Bakshi should be taking gardening leave until all allegations of wrong doing are cleared... after all isn't this what he insisted Clark should do with Peters?

What is sauce for the goose must also be for the gander?

National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has assured Prime Minister John Key he has not done anything wrong and Mr Key wants him to be treated like everyone else during an inquiry into immigration allegations.

The inquiry, involving list MP Mr Bakshi, is back on after police were provided with fresh information.

Mr Bakshi has denied allegations he accepted money for false job offers to bolster Indian immigrant applications.

There have also been allegations about attempts to silence witnesses.

Mr Key, in Australia for meetings with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said Mr Bakshi should be "treated like any other New Zealand citizen", Radio New Zealand reported.

"I've directly and personally asked him whether there's any truth to the allegations, he's given me a personal assurance there is not.

"If there is grounds for investigation then the authorities should conduct those investigations and they'll get full support from the Government if it's required,"

Mr Bakshi would be "called to account" if there was a case to answer, Mr Key said.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English said yesterday Mr Bakshi was "quite clear he hasn't done anything wrong". Immigration New Zealand started an inquiry last year but closed it in March because of a lack of evidence.

It has now provided police with further information on the allegations after interviewing a new informant.

The service also provided police with a sworn statement, obtained by Labour MP Pete Hodgson from another new informant, which said complainants were encouraged by people in India to drop the matter; "because he was going to be the first Sikh MP in New Zealand".

Police said they were looking at the role of former immigration consultant Darshan Singh Bains, who took job offers from Mr Bakshi and gave them to Indians to use as part of their applications to migrate to New Zealand.

Mr Bakshi said he knew nothing about the police investigation, and had not had any contact with Immigration since its file was closed.

Mr Bakshi has been away from work after a heart bypass operation but is expected back soon.

11 Aug 2009

Double Dipton's State House


An exclusive picture of Bill English's new home. This will soon be copied by Phil Heatley and others in the NACT cabinet.

2 Aug 2009

To Tom McCroskie & the NO campaigners

I've been reading Alice in Wonderland to my 4 year old grand-daughter as the ballot papers for the most ineptly worded referendum yet have been distributed and await our mark and return. I came to chapter 6 -Pig & Pepper as I read to her and found the following rhyme the NO campaigners might find useful as a campaign song.

The Duchess began nursing her child again, singing a sort of lullaby to it as she did so, and giving it a violent shake at the end of every line -
"Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!"

Lewis Carroll certainly knew a good campaign song when he wrote it.

Reognisable even now!


In view of Michael Laws' commentary on the rorts being perpetrated by English & Co in claiming rent assistance to live in his own house in Wellington (as a boarder of his wife - of course) and, as Laws was so willing to pontificate on over the weekend I thought Tom Scott's cartoon from the Muldoon era when Laws was a new MP was highly relevant.

Proof that The Past gives birth to the Present.

I was browsing through a book of Tom Scott cartoons - "In a jugular vein" recently and came across these cartoons commenting on the National government social and economic policies.
Apart from changing the facial features of the social welfare minister (the build is the same) there appears to be little difference between Shipley and Bennett.



Then if we look at the social policies of the Engkeylish government we see echoes of the following.

Then the noises from the Treasury and the Brash consulting group provide reminiscences of this failed economic policy.

29 Jul 2009

A Stasi Government - Tories reveal their hatred

Paula Bennett with John Key and their apologist Hooton revealed the depths of stasi like behaviour that those with long memories associated with the bullying dictatorship of East Germany where the private records of the citizens were routinely used to prevent any criticism of the activities of the government.
In earlier posts I remarked on this bullying tendency as being a hallmark of the NACT politicians signaled during the election campaign. Paula Bennett's use of confidential data held by a government department on a citizen and John Key's endorsement of that action is nothing more than the arrogant abuse of power one would expect of a petty tyrant whose inability to engage in rational and reasoned debate is only resolved by destroying the individuals who dare challenge their policies.
Garroting Garrett's threatening public servants who attend Select Committees to question government policies along with Hide's roughshod attack on local communities with his super city legislation we have too many examples of dis-quietening anti-democratic behaviour by the NACT government.
The complacency of the media with its willingness to mouth the PR line fed to it by the government is also not reassuring... in another country the headlines would have been a concerted call for the minister's head along with cartoons with John Key as Salome.

22 Jul 2009

The Secret Agenda revealed


Back in 2008 I commented on the Engkeylish policies and suggested that they concealed an agenda that would be a repeat of the privatisation policies that failed in New Zealand in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. This cartoon from the bastion of National Party support - The NZ Herald - is a vindication of my contention that the English-Key NACT government intends to flog off the family silver to the highest foreign bidders within the coming few years.
Flip-flops and policies based on political expediency rather than honesty have given NZ the receipe for a wholesale sell off of our national assets and an abnegation of social responsibility by this NACT government.

28 Jun 2009

Pomp, circumstance and Arrogance

The following links provide ample evidence of the lack of policy and the incredible arrogance of the present NACT government as they slash and burn the NZ economy in the quest to allow their traditional support base to feed at the tax payers' expense.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2009/06/27/1245b6b22e76

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2009/06/26/1245b6a11a42

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10580801

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/education/news/article.cfm?c_id=35&objectid=10580670

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/education/news/article.cfm?c_id=35&objectid=10580795

A sorry record of ignoring advice, of hammering the taxpayers, of rewarding the affluent arrogant with targeted funding to support private schools at the expense of the state schools, night classes, early childhood education and those that need specialist assistance in the school system.

Trough Feeding Time for NACT

The evidence of the arrogance and pomp attitudes that are the hall marks of the Key NACT government are manifesting themselves in the profligate expenditure of the present cabinet.There are no excuses for this especially when the same men are constantly criticising the voters for not saving, for over spending and reckless use of credit.

Let's stop the hypocrisy and stop feeding at the taxpayer's expense and get on with demonstrating that somewhere and somewhen there are effective policies hiding under the crosby-textor spin that got you elected.

From the press-gallery:

"Mr Goff said National ministers had spent $739,000 on travel in the first three months of the year -- more than double the $336,000 Labour ministers spent in the same period last year.

"It's straight hypocrisy for the Government to call for others to exercise restraint while applying a different standard for themselves," he said."

But Mr Key said it was Mr Goff who was being hypocritical.

"It is unbelievable hypocrisy for Mr Goff to criticise ministerial spending when as trade, foreign affairs and defence minister during the last nine years of a Labour government, he would have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of spending on travel," he said.

Yes, but Mr. Goff was actually doing his job and not masquerading as a cabinet minister as people like Richard Worth, Pansy Wong, Rodney Hide, Tony Ryall, Pita Sharples, Tiria Turia and Maurice Williamson did or do.

"Our spending is totally understandable for a new Government that is seeking to build relationships with governments of other countries for the benefit of New Zealand and its economy."

Come on.... the impact on the world stage of the present NACT cabinet is summed up as a "Resounding Silence". Compared to Helen Clark and Phil Goff the present NACT representatives are but gnats.

Mr Goff also said Mr Key had doubled the number of ministerial staffers earning more than $100,000 a year and approved the hiring of consultants on rates of up to $2000 a day.

"In a mean-minded act, the Government has also taken away $2.5 million funding for severely disabled children at school which may make it impossible for some children to continue to attend school."

Mr Goff said he was dealing with distraught mothers and concerned teachers about the damage the cuts were causing.

"This shows just how out of touch the Government is with the people it is hurting and the perverse priorities it is following in cutting help to the most vulnerable while spending more on itself."

True. At a time when actions should reflect the rhetoric the NACT government retreats into the arrogance of its past traditions and rides on the taxpayers' wallets.

27 Jun 2009

National's McJobs to hide policy Failure

Gordon Campbell's opinion piece examining the paucity of policy behind the McJobs policy announced by Paula Bennett and the corresponding lack of policy examination by NACT support party - The Maori Party is well worth the read.

25 Jun 2009

Who is Pulling Paula Bennett's strings then?

This opinion piece from the CEO of MacDonalds in the UK sounds just like the prepared statement by welfare minister Paula Bennett in little old N.Z. Which leads one o ask- just which big business is pulling the NACT government's strings and who, in particular, is twanging on Paula Bennett's strings?
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6571510.ece

23 Jun 2009

Bennett's Benefit Brevity

It is reassuring to hear that the traditional NACT policies are succeeding in their usual manner - unemployment is increasing at 1100 a week and the number of people on benefits has reached 302000 - the highest since 2005, and that Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett's solution is to simply let everything, from welfare through to the Family Commission fiasco that is Christine Rankin, go west as she looks to her weather vane leader to vacillate towards another off the cuff unresearched scheme that will resonate with emptiness in the Herald's PR pages.

21 Jun 2009

PRISON HULKS.- a modest proposal


A Modern Prison Hulk - note the use of shipping containers

This latest proposal from the deep intellects of the present cabinet would support the contention that N.Z. has entered a phase of talibanisation by embracing the "great leap backward."

Corrections Minister Judith Collins is releasing the numbers on a proposal to house prisoners in shipping containers.

The Government is looking at the idea as a way of dealing with rising prisoner numbers, while reducing the costs of new prison facilities to taxpayers.

Ms Collins says putting the container option into existing prisons would cost between $53,000 and $63,000 per bed. She says using the same approach in a new prison development would cost around $370,000 per bed.

Perhaps an even greater cost saving could be made by purchasing a cruise liner that has reached the end of its economic and sea worthiness life and, instead of sending it to the breakers yard, mooring it out off the Manukau Heads and shipping the prisoners to it.

The prisoners would be away from the cities and towns where they are causing problems (thus keeping Melissa Lee and others like her safe in their bigotory-blue themed worlds ), they would be housed in cells that already exist, they would be far enough away from land that escape would be almost impossible ( diligent feeding of sharks around the hulks would provide added security) thus reducing the number of guards needed while the prisoners could be gainfully employed constantly pumping the bilges to keep themselves afloat.

I'm sure that the economics of this modest propsal would keep the Treasury wonks in happiness pills for a considerable time although the person, like Judith "Crusher" Collins, who would seriously front such a proposal could be described as having a brain that if placed on the head of a pin it would roll around like a dried pea on an eight lane highway.

20 Jun 2009

The Engkeylish Government crumbles?

Commentary from the right wing and Granny Herald indicate that disillusionment with their favourite sons is beginning to set in.

First: Rodney's favourite: Mr. Garrott: (sorry...... Garrett)

A Government MP has been reprimanded for lewd conduct just weeks after the resignation of National's Richard Worth.

Act MP David Garrett was spoken to by party leader Rodney Hide after making sexual comments to a female member of the party's Parliamentary office.

Hide said last night he had cause to speak to Garrett after learning the fledgling MP had made "off-colour" remarks. He said he hoped the incident would not lead to the end of Garrett's career as a member of Parliament.

Garrett is one of the drivers behind Act's "Three Strikes" policy - and this incident makes for his own second strike. Garrett also came under fire when he compared homosexuality to paedophilia on TVNZ's Eye to Eye show, after he had been drinking.

The new allegations have earned the National-led government a warning that it risks becoming branded as a "government of sleaze". INDEED!!

Second: Key Apologist - Bill Ralston:

In dismissing the need for better political management he shows he is not really a politician. After almost three decades in the business Goff is truly a politician.

Goff understands that a government can be slowly undermined by all the "white noise".

He served as a minister in two governments in which that happened. Labour lost power last year, even though the economy was still strong and it was continuing to deliver the goods to its constituency. It lost because it was gradually overcome by the "white noise" and the public lost faith.

The Government needs to learn it might ignore the "distractions" but that doesn't mean they will go away and the consequences can be fatal.

Third: Matt McCarten: on the Melissa Lee fiasco:

The campaign was deserted by the leadership

Does Key get it that by-elections are national campaigns? Anyone can hold the job as leader when things go well. The test of a leader is when things are not going well. Key failed. He picked Lee against the wishes of the locals, he didn't get his experienced people taking ownership of the campaign and he just wasn't there. But the unforgivable act was Key's holiday on by-election weekend. The best he could do was send Lee a text. None of his senior ministers or even his president was there. Lee was left to face the massacre alone, like a stunned possum in a car's headlights.

If this is how National copes under stress in a campaign, I hope the recession doesn't get too difficult. This by-election shows us that our Prime Minister and his Cabinet can't be counted on when things get tough.

Fourth: Rodney Hide's puppet master - the Nosferatu of NZ politics- Roger Douglas:

"This only enforces the emerging trend we have seen between Mr Key and Mr English. Mr Key announces a stupid idea - be it a cycleway or forced investment in New Zealand - Mr English realises the idea is stupid, and distances himself from it.

"The Prime Minister then becomes hell-bent on scoring another symbolic victory over the Finance Minister - who backs down and Mr Key gets his way. But these battles are only resulting in pyrrhic victories - neither the cycleway nor forced investment will make New Zealand better long term.

"The trend is towards an obsession with massaging Mr Key's political image, at the expense of New Zealand's long term prospects.


Fifth: Brian Rudman: On the decision to waste the Rate Payers' money on a grandiose booze barn or John Key's "Party Central"

Brian Rudman: Government bullies pushing city a wharf too far

Sixth: Christine Rankin's decision to front the support whacking your kids campaign despite the assurance from John Key that she would not be involved in actively campaigning on the issue:

Families Commissioner Christine Rankin's decision to be a face of the "vote no" campaign for the smacking referendum is "quite incredible", Green MP Sue Bradford says.

Ms Bradford was the architect of a 2007 law change which removed the defence of reasonable force in child abuse cases. Ms Rankin vehemently opposed the law change and was spokeswoman of For The Sake Of Our Children Trust.

Tomorrow Ms Rankin will front at the launch of a campaign urging voters to vote no to the question "should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand"?

That is despite Prime Minister John Key last week saying he would not expect Ms Rankin to continue to campaign against the law change, and the Families Commission saying it supported the new law.

One can only echo the favourite word of the National Party Bloggers: "INDEED!!"

14 Jun 2009

Ralston,bloggers, journalists, photographs and things

Bill Ralston's commentary on the sorry saga that is the Worth affair is an indictment on someone who claims to be a reputable senior journalist and political commentator, at least in the small journalism pond that is Auckland.
It is a poor effort because it is obviously derivative of the spin lines being provided by the National Party HO sourced blogsites - the repeated mantra of a "purposely created honey trap" set and sprung on a poor and unsuspecting Richard Worth by a woman who had been primed to do so by forces greater than herself.
The line is then spun out for credibility sake with photographs of Ms Choudary at various functions around Auckland where she is seen posing beside Labour Party MPs from Helen Clark down with the assertion that Ms Choudary is, therefore, a high ranking activist because she unsuccessfully nominated for the Botany Electorate in 2008.
One should be clear about Ms Choudary's involvement in the NZLP to assess how high ranking she is. Enquiries would indicate that she is not a member of the NZ Council of the Labour Party. She is not an active member of any of the NZLP's policy committees and she is not a member of any of the Party's regional committees.
All that can be substantiated is that she is, or has been, a member of the Botany Electorate Committee and was involved in the Botany Campaign during 2008. She is or was also heavily involved in the various Indian community groups through out Auckland.
To imagine her, as Ralston and others in the NACT spin machine have attempted to do, as a high ranking activist is to allow one's imagination to soar to stratospheric levels.
We should, if we were objective, be wary of any collection of photographs showing an individual in close proximity to any person of status, be it political or social, for these merely record the prescence of the individual at a function where he or she could meet and be seen. For example a photograph of Ralston, Slater and Farrar with Clinton and Obama doesn't suddenly make them high ranking members of the American Democratic Party or personal friends of Clinton and Obama. It simply meeans that Ralston and company took the opportunity to be snapped in the company of Clinton and Obama and, perhaps, use the photograph to enhance their own petty status.
One could contend that Ms. Choudary is in the same situation as the Ralston example - that she has been a regular attender at functions where she could be seen to rub shoulders with MPs and others and that she, like many people, especially those from countries where meeting and or seeing one's MP is a remote possibility, has taken the opportunity to be photographed in their company.
One wouldn't be surprised if, on digging through files of photographs taken at functions hosted by the Indian community during the 2008 election at which there were National Party MPs looking for support one could find photographs of Ms Choudary and others like her posing beside Key, English, Williamson and Worth etc. These photographs could easily be construed as implying that Ms Choudary was a high ranking member of the National Party.
One could also presume that these MPs encouraged such photographs to be taken without enquiring about the political persuasion of the Indian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese... person concerned because such a photograph could be used for political advantage - a photographic endorsement of the National Party policies from the members of the ethnic community concerned.
Perhaps, too, Mr Worth attempted to recruit Ms Choudary to the National Party as he probably did, during the election campaign, to all people who he may have come in contact with in the hope that this would give him an in to the community. That he attempted to carry this invitation past the enquiry about the individual's possibilty of joining his campaign was his "honey trap" and his own nemesis.

12 Jun 2009

A review worth Reading-How the Money speculators took the world for a ride.



From the New York Times comes this gem of a book review recounting how the money speculators thought they had a magic solution to make debt disappear.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/books/review/Barrett-t.html?_r=1&8bu&emc=bua2

One wonders if the Engkeylish NACT government has learnt anything about economics considering that the PM was a key player on the money speculation market and his present puppet masters English & Hide are devotees of the mysticismof speculative policies, privatisation and the mantra "the market will regulate itself."

11 Jun 2009

TEN GOOD REASONS TO VOTE SHEARER ON SATURDAY

Saturday's by-election in Mt.Albert offers the electorate the chance to send a strong message to the Engkeylish NACT government by returning David Shearer with a huge majority and dropping the NACT candidates to 3rd & 4th places.
Here are ten good reasons for voting Shearer on Saturday:
1) A budget that has broken most of the key promises on the campaign pledge card and which seems designed to drive the country deeper into recession.

2) A government which insists on rail-roading through the Hide "destroy local government" policies with the super-city dictate which will lead to the sale of local assets in another asset stripping grab of the public assets.

3) A government that insists on driving a motorway through a community and thus gut its heart and its identity.

4) A government that has slashed and burnt the education vote and thus cut out the investment in the country's future.

5) A government that has the briefing papers and policies ready to sell off the telecom "kiwishare" and remove the free local calling entitlement the original privatisation schemes retained to placate the public as the family silver got hocked off.

6) A government that has set out to destroy the investment in the superannuation schemes designed and set in place by the Labour government to the extent where the advice being given to the cabinet is to seriously look to raising the GSTaxation from 12.5% to 15% and / or raise the age of eligibility to 67+.

7) A government that whose sole contribution to the key tourism portfolio is to saddle the Auckland ratepayers with a $100 million bill to pay for a monument to self-indulgence with 2011 Party Central. (Hardly an investment Rodney Hide would advocate a local body involving itself with as building and investing in the entertainment industry would be outside its core business.)

8) A government whose Social Welfare Minister endorsed a profligate pro-child assault campaigner to the family commission to protect the rights of the family!

9) A government that has been exposed as having a Cabinet Minister who has been accused of offering appointment to government boards and committees in exchange for sexual favours.

10) A government whose candidate, Melissa Lee,has the wit and intelligence to declare that: a) building a motorway through a community will prevent South Aucklanders driving into the area to commit crimes - a calculated insult to all residents of South Auckland and to the intelligence of the Mt.Albert residents and voters.
and
(b) she, a list MP on $131,000 + expenses is a low paid worker. To claim that she is being paid $2.00 an hour and obviuosly under paid while speaking to an audience of pensioners and minimum hourly rate workers certainly demonstrates a connection with the electorate and an ability to empathise with the "ordinary voter". Perhaps Ms. Lee thinks she is a genuine welfare beneficary?

10 Jun 2009

Super City - disposal of Assets

The latest Cabinet briefing paper on Local Body Reform does not bode well for the residents and ratepayers of N.Z. cities and towns. If the definition of core services is as narrow as reports indicate (local roading, water, sewage, rubbish disposal ) then expect to see your local council gutted and your local ratepayer purchased assets disposed of in a fire sale to any bidder who may appear and expect those assets that do not provide a rapid return to the private / foreign owner who may appear from either increased charges or restructuring and part sale of spun off "companies" or that which can be transformed into businesses to be run down and slowly but surely disappear as community services.
Watch out for libraries, community halls, art galleries, museums, swimming pools..., to be the first services to be affected. The rhetoric of ACT lovcal body councillors in the Eastern Suburbs and those of the Key favoured mayor for the Hide created Auckland would indicate that their philosophy is "I'm a moneyed philistine who doesn't use the public library / community services .. so why should anyone else have to need to use these services?"
Remember that it was John Banks and the Citizens & Ratepayers who were responsible for the disposal of community housing in Auckland before the Hubbard mayorality. It was also John Banks who wanted the Council to invest in V8 street racing at the Ratepayers expense with no reward to the Ratepayers. Remember it is the John Banks lead group in the present Council who appear to think that Mobile Library services are not core business activities for the Council.

To advocate referenda on the activities of the Councils but to deny the ratepayer citizens of greater Auckland the chance to vote on the wisdom of high cost spending to destroy the administration infrastructure of Auckland is a further demonstration of the dictatorial policy processes we are seeing in the Engkeylish government and must be opposed at all costs if we are to retain our sense of community and participation in the activities of our cities and towns.

7 Jun 2009

Texts From Last Night for what it is worth

The sort of message that has consumed the media recently appears to be a phenomena amongst those of a certain intellect, frame of mind and alcohol induced brilliance.
Perhaps the list MP for Epsom got his inspiration from these illuminaries whose literay skills with the text phone are recorded for all to see: textsfromlastnight. They demonstrate that while the memory may fade the text lives on.
Despite Mr Key's refusal to acknowledge the existence of the texts and Mr. Worth's denials and protestations of innocence the memories on cell phones live on and will not go away as these public embarassments reveal.

4 Jun 2009

Enough said - Dutch courage = Key's strategy

Key used the equivalent of a political gun earlier in the day in announcing the effective sacking of Worth, and joked he could have done with a drink himself.

"The day I had today, it's a shame the pub wasn't open at 8am, I might have given a better speech."


We all remember another Nat PM who needed a drink to give his speeches don't we?

Hardly a recommendation for a man who is playing at Prime Minister.

The list of questionable decisions and MPs grows longer every day: Here's the six month mark tally.

Bennett & the Rankin appointment?

Lee

Bakshi

Worth

Who next???

3 Jun 2009

Key proves to be worthless.

A RECORD ACHIEVEMENT- 6 months and yet another scandal in the NACT Government!!

The wheels are coming off the crosby-textor NACT Party with Key having to front up to announce the resignation of one of his friends from cabinet after coming under investigation by the Police for criminal matters.
As the history reveals Key had every opportunity to sack Worth much earlier than this but his despite his reputation as the "smiling assasin" Key vacillated and failed to purge himself of the political embarassment of his Epsom List MP. (A pity he couldn't also get rid of the canary NACT MP incumbent in Epsom as well.)

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10565612

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10565720

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10576273&pnum=2

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10576151&pnum=2

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10576188

http://tvnz.co.nz/close-up/right-wing-blogger-criticises-national-over-worth-2767081/video

31 May 2009

Engkeylish Economics

I make no apologies in republishing this piece critiquing the budget stupidity of the Engkeylish policies as it demonstrates the inadequacy of the present finance minister and his money speculator boss.

The $8 billion robbery

On Q+A this morning Guyon Espiner interviewed Bill English. Guyon had received papers from a treasury official that apparently show the cost of cancelling the government’s contributions to the Cullen Fund for 10 years will be $8 billion over and above the cost of borrowing to fund the contributions. $3.5 billion from lower value of the Fund and $4.5 billion from lower tax take. The Cullen Fund is one of the largest tax-payers.

Which makes a lot of sense. The long-run cost of borrowing government is 6% a year according to Treasury. That’s lower than the long-run return on the Cullen Fund of 6.57%, after tax (and on top of that there’s the tax that flows to the government). Even if the exact numbers are different in the end, the long-run return for a managed fund like the Cullen Fund is going to be higher than the interest rate on essentially risk-free debt issued by a government.

Put on the spot English couldn’t just say ‘Treasury’s wrong’ so his response was ‘well, the Cullen Fund lost money last year and was making 14% a year when it started’. Yeah, as Guyon pointed out, that’s why it’s called a long-run average. Some years are good, some are awful. The long-run is going to be better than the cost of government borrowing.

So, English had to try another angle. ‘If you have a mortgage and hire purchase and credit card debt , and you go to your bank manager and say ‘I want a hundred grand to play on the stockmarket’, see what kind of answer you get’.

Firstly, the government is not heavily indebted like English describes it. Our debt is actually very low by international standards (Ireland’s is over 45% of GDP, UK and US even higher, many OECD countries have more than 100% of GDP debt).

Secondly, the argument is basically that you shouldn’t have savings on borrowed money (as English said in his speech on Friday). Well, that’s plainly dumb. Anyone who has a mortgage and savings effectively has savings funded by borrowing. What’s more, if you extend English’s argument we should liquidate the Cullen Fund altogether, along with the ACC Fund, the EQC Fund, and any other financial assets we have to pay down our debt. Sometimes having an asset while also having debt makes sense. Especially when, like the government with the Cullen Fund, your expected return is greater than your cost of borrowing.

English is going to need to come up with a better excuse for starving the Cullen Fund to death and quick. Because right now it looks like he’s ripping off our country to the tune of $8 billion because of an ideological opposition to ensuring the future of superannuation.

29 May 2009

The Herald turns on its masters.

The Herald turns on its masters
These stories may be the beginning of the recognition by the Herald that the party it supportshas traditionally been the most politically and economically irresponsible political party in NZ history ever since it was created.
John Rougham's article certainly demonstrates the con job the Standard & Poor's scare tactic was by Key and his rumour mill money speculator cronies who form NACT was. I wonder how many of his mates were speculating on the knowledge that S&P wouldn't down grade as others less well briefed sold the currency short?
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/budget-2009/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502817&objectid=10575335

Budget 09: Super burden shifts to next generation

4:00AM Saturday May 30, 2009
By Simon Collins

Taxpayers will pay more than $1 billion a year more for pensions from 2020 into the indefinite future as a result of the Government's decision to stop paying into the NZ Superannuation Fund for the next 11 years.

Background papers published by the Treasury yesterday show that if payments to the fund resume in 2020-21, the payment in that year will have to be $2.8 billion, compared with only $1.6 billion payable if there had not been a break in payments.

The 11-year break means net payments into the fund will then have to continue until 2030, compared with 2027 under the pre-Budget scheme.

Labour leader Phil Goff said yesterday that the Government had chosen to fix a short-term deficit problem at the expense of a much bigger long-term problem paying for the ageing population.

"Effectively what they will be doing is killing the Superannuation Fund," he said.

But Prime Minister John Key reiterated at a business lunch in Manukau that he was committed to keeping the pension for everyone from age 65 at a married rate of 66 per cent of the net average wage.

"I have made a commitment that if we raise the age or lower the pension payment, I would personally resign as Prime Minister," he said. (Key must be held to this promise. He's lied so many times to the public over his financial expertise he needs to be held accountable. Watch out for attempts to cut pension payments in the face of further bungles by Key & English over the term of this NACT government.)

The Super Fund, or "Cullen Fund", was set up by law in 2001 to lower the future cost of pensions for the growing number of old people by putting money aside in each year up to about 2027 - effectively smoothing out the rising cost of the elderly.

Without the fund, the cost of Super would have risen from 3.62 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) at present to 4.49 per cent in 2020 and 6.50 per cent in 2050. Because of the fund, we actually paid 4.68 per cent of GDP for super in the past year, including just over 1 per cent of GDP salted away in the Cullen Fund.

Under the original Cullen scheme, we got the payoff for that investment from 2027 onwards until by 2050 we would have only had to pay in 5.73 per cent of GDP - almost 1 per cent of GDP less than what we will then pay to the elderly. The law requires the Treasury to recalculate the required contributions each year to achieve smooth contributions for 40 years ahead.

This year, because of the 11-year break in contributions, it says payments in 2050 will have to be 5.99 per cent of GDP, wiping out about a third of the benefit that the fund could have given us.

28 May 2009

Political Chicanery

The sort of political spin we can expect from the Beehive under the present Government. After all their PR machine has had experience in the USA political campaigning so a lesson learnt there will be used in New Zealand.
POLITICAL CHICANERY.
Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California,
was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that
Congressman Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for
horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry
Reid share this common ancestor. The only known photograph of Remus
shows him standing on the gallows in Montana territory. On the back of the
picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: 'Remus Reid,
horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed
the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and
hanged in 1889.' So Judy recently e-mailed Congressman Harry Reid for
information about their great-great uncle.
Believe it or not, Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch
for her genealogy research:


"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to
include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.
Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave
to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run
by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important
civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

That's real POLITICAL SPIN

THAT's how it's done, Folks!
That's real POLITICAL SPIN

10 Apr 2009

Reality checks on Key's road to economic failure

The reality of National's financial ineptitude is finally biting.

Why wasn't the Herald listening during the election campaign? Perhaps it's single minded campaign to destroy Helen gave its editorial staff blinkers?

The public deserve better journalism and financial management.

Most don't want tax cuts through borrowing, says survey

4:00AM Saturday Apr 11, 2009
By Alanah May Eriksen

Two-thirds of New Zealanders say they don't want the Government to go ahead with the next round of personal income tax cuts if it involves further borrowing to fund them.

Of those surveyed, 47 per cent also think the first round of personal income tax cuts that began last week should not have been made if they need to be funded by borrowing, considering the economic climate.

Bill English has previously said future economic circumstances would dictate whether the 2010 and 2011 tax cuts went ahead and taxpayers will be given an indication in the May 28 Budget.

A spokesman for the Finance Minister told the Weekend Herald: "We haven't got any specific response to the survey other than repeating that he believes that lower taxes are good in the long run for the economy but any decision about the tax cuts proposed for next year and the year after will be made in the Budget."

Labour finance spokesman David Cunliffe said it was "lunacy" that the Government was still considering going ahead with the tax cuts.

"There is no case in the current circumstances for further tax cuts. This proves that New Zealanders agree. I'm very pleased Kiwis have shown a sense of decency and fair play, even in the upper income brackets even though they stand to benefit."

Households and individuals with incomes between $100,001 and $150,000 a year were the least keen about the next round of tax cuts with 70 per cent opposing.

By household type, people living alone were the least keen, followed by couples with no children and one-parent families with two children.

Sixty-one per cent of National Party voters thought the cuts should not go ahead compared with 69 per cent of Labour voters.

4 Apr 2009

The G20 - a cartoonist's perspective

The Guardian cartoon sums up the issues with the Economic crisis and solutions being offeed.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/cartoon/2009/apr/04/martin-rowson-g20-obama-brown-cartoon

1 Apr 2009

Obesity, fast food and the "nanny state"

While the national government has taken its first steps to becoming a 'great' education reforming one by removing the healthy eating guidelines from the schools and encouraging the students to eat take aways, fast foods and other junk food while at school the research coming from the USA indicates that there is no wisdom in the National Party policy decisions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/health/nutrition/26obese.html?_r=3&ref=education

But who said that the minds of our present government were informed ones?

27 Mar 2009

The Emporer's Clothes & the Global meltdown

The Guardian commentary is spot on and should be required reading for all New Zealanders after their fool-hardy love affair with the neo-liberal economics of the NACT government of the naked money speculator turned pseudo-politician.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/26/anticapitalism-protest-recession-g20

26 Mar 2009

NZ makes the World Economic News!!

Today's report on New Zealand's economy is a rousing endorsement of John Key's vibrant business focused government.
The report announced that since Key and his Crosby-Textor created government took over the reins the NZ economy has shrunk and has entered into a deeper recession than would have been otherwise expected.
Only four months to really run the economy into a tail-spin!!!!
This report should ensure that the media enchantment with National will continue unabated and the National Party spin-doctors will be heralded as credible authorities on the economy.

19 Mar 2009

The ACC - Political Distortion & outright Broken Promises

This article demonstrates the truth about National and John Key - absolutely naked underneath the clothing created by Crosby-Textor. The sags & bags of the real National Party stand revealed. The use of Engkeylish is now demostrated.

Rod Oram: ACC - the political claims and the reality

Sunday Star Times
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2009
photo
Oram: Politicians are flinging lots of scary numbers around.

Relevant offers

ACC IS a mess, according to the prime minister and Nick Smith, the agency's minister.

Only a wholesale clearout of ACC's board and changes to legislation and policy will secure its future, they say.

To make their case, the two politicians are flinging lots of scary numbers around. ACC has suffered a "very significant blowout in its liabilities" to $22 billion, the prime minister said on TV3 on Tuesday.

ACC is "massively" under-funded, so either "premiums will go up and go up enormously so literally mum and dad will be paying thousands of dollars a year more or we get on top of this scheme", he added.

For his part, Smith said on March 4 that the latest analysis of ACC's liabilities "translates into ACC levy increases over the next five years of 185% for employees, 71% for employers, 129% for motor vehicle owners".

But there is a huge gap between the rhetoric of John Key and Smith, and reality.

Liabilities: They are indeed $21.875b according to the latest report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, ACC's actuaries. And they will have risen by $9.2b in the three financial years ending this June.

But these liabilities stretch out a maximum of 40 years. And they are highly influenced by changes in economic conditions, investment returns, discount rates, accounting standards and actuarial assumptions.

Over the past year, those external factors have contributed the lion's share of the increase in liabilities. For example, a change in international accounting standards for all insurers contributed $1.45b to the $9.2b.

Some of these adverse factors will turn positive in due course. If ACC massively hiked premiums now to cover paper liabilities, it would have to offer massive refunds when the liabilities failed to eventuate. Instead, it manages prudently by smoothing such swings over the medium term.

Funding: From its inception in 1974 to 1999, ACC was funded on a pay-as-it-goes basis from the levies of the day and annual government grants. But its long-term liabilities were largely unfunded.

When Labour took office in 1999, it decided to be prudent. It set the goal of achieving full funding for all liabilities by 2014, and beefed up ACC's finances to set it on that path. From 1999 to 2008, ACC had improved from 64% under-funded to 45%.

Turmoil in global financial markets has hit investment returns over the past year, delaying progress to full funding. But ACC was on to it. Over a year ago, it recommended to Maryan Street, ACC minister in the previous government, that the date for full funding should be moved to 2019. Doing so halves the increases in ACC levies that would otherwise be required to meet the goal.

As her successor, Smith agrees in ACC meetings that the date should be moved. But he continues to use estimates of levy increases, as he did on March 4, based on the current date, thereby seriously distorting the view the public is getting of ACC.

Levies: ACC's activities are divided up into six accounts. Levies fund four, the government one and a mix of the two fund the last. The process of setting levies is thorough and transparent. For example, a steering committee includes representatives from Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions and the AA.

At the end of its part of the process, ACC recommends new levies to its minister. The minister then takes independent advice from the Department of Labour before making a proposal to cabinet.

Back in October, ACC recommended modest increases to levies for the coming financial year. In contrast, the Department of Labour recommended far higher ones, mostly because it was pushing for full-funding on the old timetable.

Smith used these unreasonable Department of Labour figures to fulminate about ACC's alleged shortcomings and to scare people into believing massive hikes were coming.

But lo and behold, on three of the four accounts funded by levies, the government has agreed to exactly the low increases ACC proposed. Only on one account did it set the rate slightly higher.

The rates are bargains. For example, the work account remains fully funded even though the levy for employers and self-employed rises only 4% from $1.26 to $1.31 per $100 of payroll. This even covers large increases in the likes of doctors' and nurses' wages.

And they are bargains by international comparison. According to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers' mammoth study of ACC last year, the average levy here was 94 cents per $100 of payroll in 2006-07 while the average Australian rate was $1.73, ranging from a low of $1.18 in Queensland to a high of $3.14 in South Australia.

Entitlements: The previous National government had made ACC a mean and ugly agency. Policy directives forced it to cut corners and throw people off benefits at the earliest opportunity. If you felt hard done by, you had to go to court.

The Labour government somewhat widened the scope of ACC by, for example, removing the malpractice test on medical injury, doing more for long-term workplace injuries such as hearing loss and bringing in hard to define but real issues such as workplace trauma.

The new National government sharply criticises these increased entitlements. It is threatening to roll them back. Yet, of the $9.2b increase to $22b in ACC's liabilities for the three years to this June, only $595m came from cabinet-approved rate increases and new programmes plus $205m from court-imposed rulings and government legislative changes to expand the scheme's coverage.

The new government seems particularly worried about ACC's non-earners account. It is the second-largest of the six accounts and it is the only one the government funds directly and exclusively. And it is the one for which it has had to find recently an additional $297m.

This fund covers people not in paid work, that is, mostly young and older citizens. More than 45% of all ACC claims are made through it, yet it represents less than 20% of ACC's liabilities. If the government is trying to cut this account, it will run into a storm of public protest.

Rehabilitation: ACC's record on getting people back to work is deteriorating, the government says. Yes, it has slipped. But there is a small global decline in return to work rates for a wide range of factors, including an ageing workforce. ACC's performance is still better than Australia's and among the best in the world. Moreover, the same slight downward trend applies to the 24% of our workforce covered by the accredited employers programme. So there is no difference between ACC or employers handling their rehabilitation.

Costs: The comments of Key and Smith might give you the impression that ACC has poor cost control. In fact, PWC's analysis shows ACC's work account claims management and administration costs were 19.7% of services against the Australian average of 25.2%. In other words, ACC pays out 80.3c of every dollar on compensation and services whereas the Australians pay out only 74.8c.

Yes, in these tighter times even better budget control is needed. ACC was long working on that before National came to power.

Investments: You might also have thought from government comments that ACC's investment managers had lost a bundle in the global financial markets.

In fact, for the seven months to the end of January they earned a positive return of 2.73%, a gain almost all other fund managers only dreamed of as global markets crashed.

Unusually, ACC has its own in-house investment team led by Nicholas Bagnall and Phil Newport. They have outperformed all comparable investment teams in the private sector in New Zealand for the past 10 years and in Australasia for the past seven, earning a return of 8.7% a year. ACC has out-performed the Superannuation Fund since the latter's inception, despite the latter's more costly use of external fund managers.

All the information in this column comes from widely available sources, including ACC's briefing to the incoming minister, dated November 2008.

So the government can only be taking its extreme line on ACC because it's panicking or politicking.

If it is the latter, it must have its sights set on sharply cutting ACC's services.