A dumb argument

Audrey Young reports:

Labour says it will reduce the dominance of overseas-owned insurers, keep profits in New Zealand, and bring competition, flexibility and choice to New Zealanders.

Cunliffe implied that National’s opposition to the policy is because it received big donations from the insurance industry in 2005 and attempted to table the Hollow Men documentary on the Nicky Hager book.

Please tell me you are joking? Did the Labour Leader really claim that National’s policy in 2013 is influenced by some donations made in 2005? That’s just desperate.

Finance Minister Bill English said the idea of a bank taking on more insurance risk “is about the dumbest proposal that could possibly be made in the light of events following the global financial crisis.”

“We have already got the bill for $7 billion of Earthquake Commission risk. Why would we take on more?”

It was glorious day outside but English was having none of that. “Having low-income people working in the rain, paying their PAYE and underwriting financial risk is as dumb an idea was you can have in the 2020s.”

, if it came to pass, would also be New Zealand 97th insurance company.

The other 96 are not good enough?

Key responded on KiwiBank. Yes it was a good little business.

“I might point out though this it has taken $860 million of taxpayers’ money and it has never paid a dividend in 10 years.”

It’s arguable that KiwiBank doesn’t even cover the cost of capital, and is effectively subsidized by the taxpayer.

He challenged Cunliffe to name another bank operating in New Zealand that had an insurance company, and offered insurance on the same property they were lending on.

“They do not do that.”

Cunliffe: “Is he aware that ASB Bank own Tower Insurance? If he is, why is he asking such a stupid question.”

Within minutes of Cunliffe’s comment, National’s research unit – or perhaps a few friends in the insurance industry – had got the message to Key that Cunliffe was wrong.

ASB did not own Tower. They sent the list of owners. Key tried to read through the list.

That’s a big fail.

Eventually Labour’s deputy, David Parker, and possibly the source of his leader’s error, did the honourable thing and acknowledged the error by asking Key: “Has he received any advice that ASB in fact own Sovereign Assurance?”

Key: “Yes it does own Sovereign and let us get to the better bit…Sovereign provides life insurance, and the way [Cunliffe] is going, he will need life insurance.”

I don’t think Labour are proposing a state owned insurer to provide life insurance. It is obviously targeted at property and contents insurance, the idea of having a bank own a property insurance company is a great way to have it go bankrupt.

 

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