Trotter calls for coalition of the left

April 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

The bitter truth is that if a beneficent angel were to uplift the best politicians from Labour, the Alliance (before it disappeared) the Greens and the Mana Party, and drop them into a divinely crafted political entity that might – or might not – continue to exploit the still potent Labour brand, then the Government of John Key would be in real trouble. The current Labour Party bleats on (and on, and on, and on) about being a “Broad Church”, but the sad truth remains that its reservoir of recruitment has never been shallower.

A genuinely “broad church” party of the Left would balance off Andrew Little with Hone Harawira, Jacinda Ardern with Laila Harré, Stuart Nash with John Minto, Kelvin Davis with Annette Sykes, Grant Robertson with Julie Anne Genter and Annette King with Metira Turei. The whole spectrum of alternative power: from Soft Centrists to Hard Leftists; would be covered.

While I have serious doubts about the electoral appeal of such a group, Trotter has a point that Labour is attracting relatively few denizens of the left.

That Labour’s fatal apostasy [the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle] has rendered such a divinely appointed caucus little more than a pipe dream is the besetting tragedy of progressive New Zealand politics. Its embrace of neoliberalism in the mid-1980s left Labour with the political equivalent of syphilis. Sadly, every one of the many attempts to administer the Penicillin of genuine progressivism (God bless you Jim, Rod, Laila!) was rejected. Consequently, Labour’s bones have crumbled and its brain has rotted. Small wonder that the other opposition parties are reluctant to get too close!

They’re at 27% in the average of the polls, which is 6% worse than three years ago.

 

Little’s conspiracy gets even larger

April 23rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

As for McCully’s handpicked appointees, these are the members of the Niue Tourism Property Trust whose members are indeed appointed by McCully on behalf of the Niue Government.

It has already been widely reported that they include the likes of the island’s High Commissioner and former police officer Ross Ardern. (Ardern also happens to be the father of Labour MP Jacinda Ardern so one would assume he’s not embedded with the National Party).

But this is where it gets complicated.

The Niue Tourism Property Trust appointed a board to oversee the running of the hotel and according to one of the four board members the agreement was negotiated and signed between Scenic Hotels and the board rather than the trust itself.

The tender process itself, meanwhile, was run by consultancy group Horwarth (which did the early feasibility studies for Auckland’s international conventional centre). So again, a step removed from the government appointees on Niue property trust.

Little is right when he says that it is his role as Opposition leader to ask questions when a big political donor is awarded Government contracts.

But suggesting it “stinks to high heaven” takes things to a different level.

Even if there hadn’t been a number of steps between the minister and the decision to award the contract, Little’s claim appears to rest on the assumption that everyone involved in the process – from senior diplomats, to government agencies and senior politicians – was either swayed by the donation, or leaned on by the minister.

In the absence of a whistle blower, or any documentation, leaked emails or other evidence so far to support that view, that’s a pretty serious accusation. Seemingly, it relies solely on the fact that Hagaman donated money to the National Party.

This is dangerous territory for Little and not because the Hagamans have threatened legal action.

With the involvement of Horwarth, Little’s allegations only stack up if the conspiracy involves McCully, the two Hagamans, the three trustees (including Ross Ardern), the four board members and the staff of Horwarth.

Little was right to ask the question but wrong to leap to judgement before the Auditor General decides even whether to take a look.

If Little had just asked for it to be reviewed, no problems. But he rushed to judgment and declared it stank to high heaven, and insulted the trustees by effectively referring to them as McCully’s handpicked mates when one of them is an MFAT Deputy Secretary and another the High Commissioner (and father of a Labour MP).

If every big donation is going to be decried as dodgy there seem to be only two alternatives – either barring donors from tendering for Government contracts, which is probably unworkable, or a fully state funded regime, which is where the first option ultimately leads anyway, given the inevitable drying up of campaign funds.

This is what Labour wants. They are broke so they want to force taxpayers to fund their party.

Will Labour oppose the China FTA upgrade?

April 22nd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

China will allow dairy to remain on the table as it progresses talks with New Zealand over an upgrade to an existing free-trade agreement.

But it’s not yet promising that formal re-negotiations will begin over an eight-year-old pact that the government would argue has fallen victim to its own success. 

Prime Minister John Key met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing overnight (NZ time), and said he left the meeting more optimistic than when he went into it, about China’s willingness to progress free-trade talks. 

If an upgrade to the China FTA is negotiated, will Labour oppose it?

Once upon a time this would have been a ridiculous question to ask, especially as they negotiated the China FTA.

But consider these two points:

  1. Labour now regularly rails against the Chinese – everything from investing in a farm to buying a house to being an Chinese chef
  2. The initiated the TPP agreement in Government yet denounced it in opposition

Greens and NZ First both opposed the FTA with China. Labour’s policy has been getting closer and closer to the Greens, so it is not impossible they’ll oppose any upgrade to the China FTA purely because it may happen under National.

Damning Faafoi with faint praise

April 20th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little said:

“Kris Faafoi is a very talented MP whose hard work has earned him a place on the Shadow Cabinet. He is instantly recognisable to many New Zealanders and connects well when he’s on the road – an invaluable skill when working with the tourism industry.

When you read this carefully you see that Little is saying that Kris is being promoted because he used to be on TV and gets on well with people.

You’d think in a press release announcing a new member of the shadow cabinet, they could work a bit harder to talk up his skills.

This isn’t a go at Kris, who I think does a good job as an MP. Just the bizarre press release wording justifying his appointment.

Is business outreach code name for business fundraiser?

April 19th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little announced:

Kris Faafoi has been promoted to Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and receives the Tourism portfolio while Clayton Cosgrove takes on a business outreach role – a move prompted by Mr Cosgrove’s decision to not stand at the next election, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.     

Business Outreach? That doesn’t sound like a portfolio, but a description for a corporate fundraiser.

HDPA on Labour

April 18th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Heather du Plessis-Allan writes:

It was a couple of weeks ago, at the height of Labour’s most recent series of fluffs. You know, the stuff about Indian chefs and acting like Rob Muldoon with bank lending rates.

I was killing time around Parliament, waiting for a minister. A Labour Party insider was killing time too. We got talking.

Andrew Little said this. Andrew Little said that. Tired of his cock-ups. Tired of being blamed for his mistakes.

It wasn’t a surprise morale in the Labour Party was low, it was a surprise someone was being honest about it.

For a while now, everyone in the party has bravely kept painting their faces, putting on their party frocks and pretending life was peachy.

Later that day, I walked through the arrivals gate at Auckland airport next to a well-connected political mover and shaker. We got talking. Trouble’s brewing in the Labour Party.

They’re talking of cutting Grant Robertson. They’re talking of cutting the chief of staff. Watch this space.

That was two weeks ago. That was before the party hit 28 per cent in the latest poll.

That was before the poll result? Wonder what the chatter must be like now!

Labour has it tough. Labour parties across the world have it tough. These were parties formed to save workers from unjust working conditions. The parties have mostly succeeded. Workplaces and employment legislation is a million times better now than in 1916.

So what does a political party do when its mission is accomplished?

It sits down with a cup of tea – the eight years of opposition might have been an opportune time – and figures out its next task.

But it has to be honest about what it stands for.

Labour told us it stood for the old flag. That’s not true. In black and white, its own policy was to change the flag. It was just trying to get one over John Key. Well, it got one over John Key and it’s still polling worse than the tea-towel flag.

Good point.

Labour told us it stood for keeping Indian restaurant chef jobs for Kiwis. We pondered why we had never seriously considered a career as a chef in an Indian restaurant.

Their future of work!

Look at UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He’s beating David Cameron in some polls. He’s a borderline-communist eccentric you’re never entirely convinced bothered to shower that morning.

But he’s authentic. He says what he means and will do it.

Corbyn is authentic. I’m not sure emulating Corbyn will help Labour here, but they should give it a try!

Young says time for Gracinda if Labour lose

April 18th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

Little will stay leader until the next election, of that there is no doubt. If he is not Prime Minister after the 2017 election, it will be Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern’s turn.

But who will be Leader and who will be Deputy?

To put it in perspective, the 28 per cent in TV One’s poll this week is exactly what they got two elections ago, under Goff, but it is better than the 25 per cent they got at the last election under Cunliffe.

I find it is better to compare poll results with poll results at the same stage in previous terms, rather than election results. The reason is that Labour generally loses vote share during election campaigns as minor parties get more attention.

In April of the middle year of National’s 1st term Labour was at 33% (April 2010) and in April 2013 it was at 36%. So the 28% result is significantly worse than what Labour were doing under Goff and Shearer.

The poll results are a reflection of the long-running identity crisis and Little’s recent exacerbation of it.

The party that began TPP under Clark rejected the done deal then tried to be the farmers’ best friend.

The party seeks respectability in the business community but contemplates a return to Muldoonist regulation of interest rates.

It wants to be the party to target inequality but toys with the idea of giving the rich and poor the same universal basic income.

A good summary.

That approach was in action this week with Little’s extraordinary attack on John Key’s so-called moral compass – according to Little, he doesn’t have one – in the wake of the Panama papers.

Establishing a negative impression of Key is everything; nuance is non-existent and facts are a luxury in this new clobbering approach of Little’s.

Labour is not bothered that Key has no foreign trust, that there is no evidence of any unethical behaviour by Key or his lawyer. It is apparently enough that he was a currency trader, that he is wealthy, that he waited for a week before ordering an inquiry into the 12,000 foreign trusts in New Zealand in order to cast him as the Prime Minister only for the privileged and greedy end of town and a person of “no moral compass”.

Yep. The same strategy that Labour has tried to use since 2007.

Danyl says Labour has gone too left

April 15th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl McLauchlan blogs:

The party has moved to the far left for the first few months of 2016 and it hasn’t gone well. …

But if you look at more recent history, their poll results under the centrist leadership of Shearer went as high as 36%. Then he was rolled, Cunliffe took the party to the left, and they wound up in the mid 20s. Then Little came in and seemed more moderate, and the poll results went up. But this year they’ve campaigned on free tertiary education, a UBI, fuck the TPPA etc, with a subsequent decline in support and they’re back in the 20s. It kind of seems like the voters are telling them something here.

Free tertiary education was once the delusional dream of the Alliance. Now Labour has adopted it as their senior leadership are all former student politicians, and they think this is what everyone wants.

Helping young innovators

April 14th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Labour Party would put $3 million a year toward helping young Kiwis with start-up ambitions.

A one-off grant of up to $20,000 would go to any New Zealander between the ages of 18 and 23 to start a business based on an innovative idea.

This isn’t a bad idea. Many young Kiwis want to set up their own business once they finish studying, rather than work for others.

The grants seem at around the right level – enough to help with start up costs, but not enough to attract people not serious.

The grant came with the safety net of funded business training, an ongoing business mentor and a business plan approved by an independent panel of experts, he said.

“The grants will be capped at 100 per year for the first three years.”

A pretty good policy. I suspect there are similar programmes at the moment, but good to see Labour being constructive in this area.

Houston we may have a problem

April 12th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

labopp

This is the Preferred PM rating of the four Labour Opposition Leaders. Rather speaks for itself.

Cosgrove retires

April 11th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Long-serving Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove has announced he will not be standing at next year’s election.

The list MP, who has been in Parliament for more than 16 years, said today it was not a decision he had made lightly.

This is no surprise. It was highly highly unlikely Cosgrove would have got a winnable list place. Many in Labour are very angry that he campaigned for Waimakariri by barely mentioning Labour on his billboards, but then took up a spot on the party list, when he effectively didn’t campaign for the party vote for them.

Speaking to the Herald this afternoon, Mr Cosgrove would not rule out leaving Parliament ahead of the election.

The next person on the Labour Party list is former party president Maryan Street, who is based in Nelson.

That would hardly be renewal.

It is a shame in one sense that Cosgrove is leaving – he was one of the few Labour MPs who had ever worked in the private sector.

Labour against cost savings

April 7th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Close to 100 government jobs will go as the Ministry of Justice introduces a compulsory work-from-home initiative, prompting concerns the move will snowball across other departments.

The ministry has confirmed a restructure will see 202 management and staff positions disestablished and 111 new positions created, along with fixed term positions as staff move to a “home environment” later this year.

In a statement, collections general manager Bryre​ Patchell​ said about 100 collections registry positions will move from office to home over the next 13 months.​

The restructure, which will mean specialist collections units at courts around New Zealand will close, is thought to be the first of its kind in New Zealand’s public sector.

Basically you don’t need an office to make phone calls.

Labour justice spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern didn’t buy the efficiency line, and said this came down to cost-cutting – at the expense of face-to-face service and staff morale.

“If they will do this for this department, they will do it for others,” Ardern said.

She feared staff were being forced into their homes away from supportive environments.

“It’s not being posed as something where they are being given the choice. If you are already working in a hard environment it’s a huge thing to have that person working in isolation.

“Overridingly, this is a cost-saving initiative.”

Once again Labour opposes an initiative that saves taxpayers money. Almost without fail they will back unions over taxpayers. They think the more money you spend on something, the better it is. There seems to be no concept of value for money.

Winston rebuffs Labour

April 6th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters doubts it was “deliberate” but says Labour leader Andrew Little is wrong to say there are plans for the two parties to jointly campaign on policy.

Earlier on Sunday Little said he was talking with both the Greens and NZ First, separately, about issues where there is common ground that they could campaign on ahead of next year’s general election.

He said the public would know “well in time for next year’s election” where all three parties line-up and where there are differences.

“In terms of specific joint policy announcements, we’re certainly not there yet, but between now and the next election I certainly wouldn’t rule out (joint policy) with either of those parties.” 

But Peters says his position not to discuss potential coalition governments, or joint policy, hasn’t changed in 23 years and he “won’t depart from that now”.

“We row our own boat and we formulate our own policy.”

Labour are desperate to get Peters on board. Little claimed he wanted to get Labour to 40% so there could be a Labour-Green Government. Now as they are polling below 30%, they are aiming for 35% on a good day, which means they could only govern with both Greens and NZ First.

But will Peters want to go into a three way coalition where the Greens can veto all his policies? In a two way coalition you have a lot more leverage.

Labour also against a sugar tax

April 6th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government isn’t fazed  by a group of health professors lobbying to introduce a tax on sugary drinks.

The professors want Cabinet to introduce a 20 per cent excise tax on sugary drinks, which they say would generate $30-$40 million that could go towards obesity prevention programmes.

Basically they want this tax to fund their own work.

Sugary drinks make up on average 1.6% of daily calories.  A tax on them would achieve nothing expect more money for the Government.

Our levels of sugar in drinks has been decreasing, while obesity has been increasing. Not surprising when they represent such a small proportion of energy.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the issue was wider than soft drinks and the country needed “to come to grips with total sugar content” in a number of foods.

Yes – Little is right on this.

At the party’s annual conference in November deputy leader and health spokeswoman Annette King set out plans to make it clear to industry to cut the sugar content in foods but ruled out a sugar tax.

On Sunday Little said getting food producers to label products more carefully and making sure they reduce the sugar content was the priority and if they didn’t co-operate there were other tools.

Sugar in food and drink has been reducing. It would be good to reduce more, but ultimately consumers should be making informed choices – not having the Government decide for them.

Labour in Kaikoura

April 5th, 2016 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Janette Walker is in the hunt to be Kaikoura’s Labour candidate for the 2017 general election.

Walker said the Government had failed regional New Zealand and she was working hard within the social services sphere to help people in hardship and give hard-working Marlburians a fair deal.

There was a chance to turn the traditional National-voting electorate towards Labour and “knock John Key off his perch”, Walker said.

Kaikoura Labour Electorate committee chairman Corey Hebberd said nominations for the Labour candidate for the Kaikoura electorate were open until April 29.

Walker was the only candidate to make a formal expression of interest, Hebberd said.

“Unquestionably, Labour has built a strong base in the Kaikoura electorate. We’ll be fighting hard in 2017 to maximise both our party vote and candidate vote.”

A strong base?

Here’s Labour’s vote in Kaikoura:

  • 1999 – 11,357 PV 10,728 EV – lost by 1,486
  • 2002 – 12,636 PV 12,096 EV – lost by 3,069
  • 2005 – 12,515 PV 13,080 EV – lost by 4,675
  • 2008 – 10,046 PV 9,297 EV – lost by 11,077
  • 2011 – 6,775 PV 8,516 EV – lost by 11,445
  • 2014 – 6,269 PV 8,287 EV – lost by 12,570

If this is what Labour calls unquestionably building a strong base, I congratulate them on their strategy and commend them to continue their good work.

Labour and off-shore trusts

April 5th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman wrote in the Politik newsletter:

While the Prime Minister was sticking to his briefing notes at his weekly press conference yesterday on the question of the 11,000 offshore trusts registered in New Zealand, it appears the Clark Labour Government may have enabled their presence here. 
The 2007 rewrite of the Income Tax sets out how overseas people can set up in trusts in New Zealand and pay no tax provided that none of the income in the trust originates in New Zealand.

In 2005 Labour’s Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, tightened up reporting requirements for the trusts but emphasised that their activities would remain tax free.

He said: “”Foreign trusts will be required to have an IRD number, keep records for New Zealand tax purposes, provide certain information when they are first set up in New Zealand or appoint New Zealand trustees, and provide information to Inland Revenue on a regular basis.

Under New Zealand law, foreign income derived by non-residents is outside the New Zealand tax base, and rightly so. The government has no intention of changing that. Because they are not taxed here, foreign trusts that are set up here do not have to file New Zealand income tax returns or keep records if they receive only foreign-sourced income.

As is often the case with the Politik newsletter, you read stuff you don’t see elsewhere in the media.

Hooton on the Future of Work

March 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton writes in NBR:

As Labour proceeds with its “Future of Work” process, it would be wise to have the humility to understand it will be almost completely wrong about how the world will be, not just a quarter century from now but even five years hence when it might be taking office. In fact, the tendency for change to accelerate means any specific forecasts about the future made in 2016 will almost certainly be even more embarrassingly wrong than those made in 1993.

Hooton makes the point that 20 years ago there was almost no commercial Internet. We know there will be change, but trying to work out exactly what that will be is near hopeless.

The policy prescriptions necessitated by constant change are fairly obvious, and always have been: New Zealand’s labour and capital markets must be more flexible than ever; the ability to switch resources including land from one use to another must be enhanced; world class general education, in particular in numeracy and literacy, is absolutely essential; the idea of doing three years of vocational training between the ages of 17 and 21 to win a meal ticket for life is absurd; people must be equipped to pick up new skills and change jobs rapidly as required; companies and governments must be capable of making decisions quickly; the tax system must not distort investment and labour flows; industry and regional assistance schemes and other corporate welfare can only ever act as brakes on innovation.

Yep.

Labour’s problem is that these ideas are anathema to those who control it. So far, the policy ideas to emerge all seem exactly the same as a far-left Labour Party would promote without bothering with a “commission”: three free years of uni for school leavers, and $200 a week for everyone from the day they turn 18 until the day they die, at a cost of $38 billion a year.

This is the acid test – is Labour coming out with any policies that they didn’t want to do anyway? They’ve opposed every measure of flexibility to the labour market. Will they actually come up with a policy that would surprise people?

Sadly, today’s Labour is unable to accept, emotionally or intellectually, that the enormous creative power of billions of people working in a well-regulated free market will always makes fools of the most visionary “Future of Work” participants. All that is wise for any government to do is foster that creativity, accept that the future cannot be foretold and trust that human societies – as they always have done – will find ways to navigate from one era to the next perfectly competently without the likes of Andrew Little thinking he has any particular insight to impart.

Well said.

Labour disdain for beach house owners

March 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Just look at the hatred and resentment coming from Labour MP Sue Moroney towards these people.

Their sin is:

  1. They own a beach house
  2. They were flying the Kyle Lockwood flag

Is this a new Labour policy – people who own beach houses should not get to vote?

Perhaps this sneering at New Zealanders explains Moroney’s electoral record:

  • 1996 – lost Karapiro
  • 2002 – lost Piako
  • 2005 -lost Piako
  • 2008 – lost Hamilton East
  • 2011- lost Hamilton West
  • 2014 – lost Hamlton West

UPDATE: I’m told Sue Moroney has a beach house herself. So she is against beach house owners, except if they are Labour MPs? Hypocritical as well as offensive.

Labour’s international brains trust

March 24th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Look at what these international gurus Labour rely on are actually saying:

Robert Reich, who said he once dated Hillary Clinton before she married, told a Labour Party conference in Auckland today that a guaranteed minimum income for all was “the only way of dealing with where technology is taking us”.

“When technology is going to be replacing most jobs, how do we get the money back to people so they can buy the technology?” he asked.

He said technology was heading towards what he called an “i-everything” that would be able to use 3D printing to print out anything a consumer wanted.

“The problem is no one will be able to afford that, because nobody will have a job,” he said.

So Reich things the future is so bleak we’ll have 100% unemployment, and the Government should just pay everyone $200 a week.

Professor Standing said a universal basic income should not be a policy for “the distant future”.

“We always have to act and speak as if it’s tomorrow, not say kick it into touch and we’ll deal with it later,” he said.

He said a basic income could be justified on the principle that most of our current wealth was created by our ancestors, and it was only fair to share some of that common wealth with everyone.

Oh, wealth belongs to our common ancestors. Right. In that case, I’d like Professor Standing’s house and car.

“You allow private inheritance, Mr Prime Minister,” he said. “They have done nothing for something, they are given the right to incomes and wealth. Can we have a modest social amount?”

Note the views of the hard left. Private inheritance is something the Government allows! His view is all property belongs to the Government, and us plebs are lucky enough to have a Government allow us to keep some of it.

He regards private inheritance as getting something for nothing. Let’s have 100% death duties!

Finance spokesman Grant Robertson picked up a comment by Mr Reich that any national basic income scheme might be 10 or 15 years away.

“It’s some way away,” Mr Robertson said.

That is the sound of backing away as quickly as possible.

Mr Reich suggested that a basic income could be funded by “a small share of the revenues from intellectual property”.

If you profit from intellectual property, you pay income tax on it.

Is Reich saying that all intellectual property should belong to the state, and be split between the state and the creator?

Labour’s 10 big ideas for the future of work

March 24th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Labour has released their 10 big ideas for the future of work:

  1. Building digital equality – through ensuring Kiwis can access technology regardless of where they live or how wealthy they are.
  2. Accelerating technology in business – through developing new models of capital raising and investing in research and development.
  3. Developing Business Clusters – by creating regional partnerships of business, councils, research organisations and iwi to get the best out of local and emerging industries.
  4. Building wealth from the ground up – by encouraging new models of business, including entrepreneurship and cooperatives to create a more sustainable economy.
  5. Establishing a just transition – through creating a social partnership model and strong and flexible social and re-training programmes.
  6. Ensuring greater income security – through investigation of new models of income security for New Zealand, including considering a limited trial of a universal basic income-type system in a town or region.
  7. Reforming the transition between education, training and work – through comprehensive reform of career guidance and creating a school leavers’ toolkit to prepare them for the practical requirements of work.
  8. Labour’s Working Futures Plan – in which all New Zealanders receive three free years of post-school education, phased in from 2019. 
  9. Partnering with Maori in a post-Treaty settlement era – through the Government facilitating strategic partnerships between iwi, business, and third parties to develop the Maori economy.
  10. Establishing a Pasifika working futures plan – by working with the community to focus on the transition between education and work and identifying and eliminating the barriers to entrepreneurship. 

Many of these are good ideas, but will probably happen without the Government. The new methods of capital raising have already evolved are are being used. Regional business clusters can and do occur without central Government.  And the last things entrepreneurs need is Government encouraging them to be more sustainable.

So some of the ideas are not bad, but basically platitudes.

On trialling a UBI, I don’t think the numbers add up. But yeah lets trial it in Gore, and see how many people move there in order to get $200 a week in exchange for not working.

Sadly there is nothing at all about recognising the need for more flexible labour markets, or helping small businesses by retaining the 90 day grievance free trial period.

Hosking on Labour copying Winston

March 23rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rob Hosking writes at NBR:

Andrew Little and Grant Robertson’s embrace of the very Winston-esque policy of what amounts to political control of retail interest rates was stupid opportunism. …

Parties in opposition often say irresponsible and silly things, and pander to what they think is popular sentiment.

This is particularly the case when those parties cannot see any improvement in their fortunes, and desperation kicks in.

Jim Bolger, leading National, toyed with the death penalty in the run up to the 1987 election and even in 1990, when the outgoing Labour government was about as popular as a banker with paedophiliac tendencies and swine flu, made some desperately foolish policy pledges. But Mr Little’s Labour is making so many of these and so many that are completely at odds with the Labour Party’s supposed values and principles.

Maybe Andrew and Grant subscribe to the Groucho Marx view of principles:

Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

Some examples:

Last year’s  “Chinese Sounding Names” database for foreign investors was one.

The abandonment of free-trade principles was another, which was accompanied by the call from Labour grandee Bryan Gould for the governor-general to refuse to sign into any Trans Pacific Partnership laws passed by Parliament.

Mr Gould is a senior member of Labour’s brains trust, yet here he was calling for the governor general to behave as if the Divine Right of Kings is still part of the New Zealand constitution.

It was the sort of stuff you expect from screaming protesters, not a senior Labour Party stalwart.

Mr Little’s more recent foray into anti-immigration sentiment this week confirmed what has happened: Labour has been intellectually colonised by Mr Peters.

It only remains for the New Zealand First leader to take his natural place as finance minister in a Labour-led government.

Winston may be aiming higher than that?

Why doesn’t Labour go the whole hog and make Winston leader? They seem to be adopting all his policies.

Watkins on Angry Andy

March 22nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

National has a nickname for Labour leader Andrew Little. Angry Andy. They taunt him with it in Parliament.

They reckon it’s Little’s achilles heel, that he can come across to the punters as perpetually angry. No wonder Labour was happy the day Little’s cat Buddy photo-bombed him. No man with a cat called Buddy .can be angry all the time, right?

But maybe the Nats’ “angry Andy”meme is just a cunning case of reverse psychology. Because angry politics seems to be working just fine for America’s Donald Trump, and its angry septuagenarian Bernie Sanders.

That’s because most Americans are unhappy with the direction of their country. For more than a decade only around 30% of Americans say their country is heading in the right direction. By contrast, in NZ, around 60% of NZers say they think the country is heading in the right direction.

So why isn’t angry working for Little? Labour is stuck in the poll doldrums and looking increasingly adrift as a frustrated Little clutches at a grab bag of soundbites and tries to give them a unifying theme.

They have no discipline and strategy. After years of bagging dairy farmers, they seize on low milk prices and demand the Government force banks to write off loans to diary farmers. They need to choose three issues and focus on them relentlessly. However almost every day they chase the issue of the week.

Because it’s all looking increasingly desperate and on the hoof. In the same week that Little opined against importing ethnic chefs, he and his finance spokesman laid out the case for bailing out battling dairy farmers, not a group that’s traditionally sparked sympathy for being trapped on the wrong side of the inequality divide.

Square pegs and nothing but round holes for as far as the eye can see.

Desperate is a good word for it.

It’s not just the punters who are confused. Little’s MPs are less and less inclined to hide their bafflement at what’s coming out of the third floor leader’s office or – more to the point – what’s coming out of the leader’s mouth.

This is a dangerous time for Little. The success of his leadership so far has been in unifying a fractious and divided caucus. But the traditional fault lines are starting to reassert themselves.

This is significant. Little had no internal criticism for the first 15 months, but his MPs are getting sick of the lack of direction.

Likewise the unease over targeting Asian house purchasers. Labour used to have a stranglehold on the ethnic vote. No more. National Party rallies – once the the domain of the blue rinse set and farmers – are now glitzy affairs where Asian faces clearly outnumber the blue-rinse brigade.

They like a party that doesn’t target people on their surnames.

If Little’s foray into the immigration debate had been a populist attempt to muscle in on traditional NZ First territory it might have been excused as part of a broader – if cynical – plan.

But Little’s desperate attempts to hose down the ethnic chefs debacle make a nonsense even of that idea.

The Labour base went into meltdown. Twitter exploded, the activists were in a fury and Little was left defending himself with the usual figleaf that his quotes were taken out of context.

Having to do a secret blog post to your own members is never a good look.

Unlike the US, meanwhile, we are blessed with a political system that works.

Which is not to say middle New Zealand is not capable of getting angry again.

But Little won’t find that anger by floundering around looking for opportunist itches to scratch.

It’s desperate politics. Again they need to choose three issues and stick with them for not one day, one week or even one month, but three years.

Labour’s $38 billion bribe!

March 21st, 2016 at 12:45 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

All adult New Zealanders could be given a Government handout of at least $200 a week under a new policy being considered by the Labour Party.

The co-leader of a global network promoting a “universal basic income”, British professor Guy Standing, will be a keynote speaker at a Labour conference on “the future of work” in Auckland next week.

He said yesterday that a system “where every legal resident of New Zealand should be entitled to a modest monthly basic income” would reduce inequality and give some security to people who increasingly have to earn a living from insecure casual and short-term work.

And Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said Labour was considering a local version of a scheme developed by economist Gareth Morgan, who proposed paying every adult a basic income of $11,000 a year ($211 a week).

“I’ve spoken to the Morgan Foundation about it. They are continuing to work on the idea,” Mr Robertson said.

“We are looking at how do we ensure income security, and one of the things we are looking at is whether or not a universal basic income could form part of that policy. It’s very early days.”

A discussion paper on the idea, due to be published by Labour today, suggests paying an $11,000 universal income to everyone aged 18 or over to replace all existing welfare benefits except for “supplementary transfers for disadvantaged groups”.

So what would this cost?

We have 3.49 million people aged 18 or older.

$11,000 per person is $38.4 billion!!

This is fantasy land stuff. Not even Jeremy Corbyn would float this.

Even if you used this to replace Vote Social Development (Benefits) which is $19.5 billion, that leaves an $19 billion gap.

This would be slightly more generous than Dr Morgan’s proposal, which suggested a lower rate of $8500 for those aged 18 to 20, and the paper acknowledges that “there may need to be some changes to taxation policy to mobilise revenue”.

“The top tax rate could be increased or further revenue might be gathered from other forms of taxation,” it says.

You think!

This would require everyone earning over $48,000 a year to pay 82% income tax.

This isn’t so much the future of work, but how to get everyone working to leave New Zealand.

Trans-Tasman on Gracinda

March 21st, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman writes:

Labour leader Andrew Little’s call for a return to Muldoon-like setting of interest rates has been well covered elsewhere, but it is only the most prominent example of an utterly woeful attack on the Govt.

The Labour party dream team, Gracinda, based their attack on an MYOB survey of small businesses which showed a sizable downturn in income for small firms due to the fall in the dairy price. Both parts of Gracinda, Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern, worked off three presumptions: dairy prices should never fall; they should and could somehow be made not to fall; and small firms do not anticipate dairy prices will never fall. None of these presumptions are true in the world outside Labour’s rarefied and strange outlook on the economy.

It would be nice if the first two were true. But unless Labour plans to bring back guaranteed minimum prices for dairy – and on recent performance, we shouldn’t rule it out – it is a silly and make-believe approach to the economy.

Labour really have had a shocking 2016 to date. The talk around journalists isn’t around the 2017 election, but if Labour can get their shit together enough to be credible by 2020 as they think a 5th term for National would be bad for democracy.

Small on Labour’s interest rate policy

March 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small sums it up well:

Labour? 

Well, It seems rough to criticise an Opposition, stranded around 30 per cent in the polls, for trying to make a splash. Yet while it wins full marks for backing the battlers and exploiting the bankers’ discomfort, its brain explosions quite simply took it over the edge.

Little is having these brain explosions on a reasonably regular basis now.