Heffernan says Labour’s power policy is nationalisation

September 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Doug Heffernan is not a fan of what Labour and the Greens plan to do to the electricity sector.

Dr Heffernan retired last Friday as chief executive of Mighty River Power after nearly 40 years in the industry, during which he witnessed radical structural changes.

He worked for the New Zealand Electricity Department and its corporatised successor, ECNZ. He was chief executive of Power New Zealand, before the local power companies were split into lines and retail energy businesses.

And he had been chief executive of Mighty River Power since it was carved out of ECNZ as a state-owned enterprise and latterly as a listed company under the mixed-ownership model. …

Under the NZED central planning model, nearly every generation investment decision was a bad one, he said, citing Marsden B (built to run on oil but which never generated a single kilowatt hour), the Clyde Dam with its massive over-runs and Huntly, designed to run on coal but which spent most of its life gas-fired.

“I’m old enough to remember the shortages in the 1970s because someone made the wrong decision about what plant to run. Same thing happened in 1992. We actually ran out of electricity,” he said.

California also has a single buyer model and they are warning they may need blackouts.

“That is what has surprised me over my career. To go from a position where you think the smartest brains would work out the best thing to do, to a system where a diversity of thinking has created far better outcomes.”

Dr Heffernan sees the single-buyer model as a form of nationalisation. “They say, yes, it is someone else’s capital but we will control the outcomes. That’s equivalent of having nationalised the industry.”

Of their many bad policies, this is arguably the worst. Even the man they cite as the inspiration for the policy, Frank Wolak, has lashed it as being a very bad move.

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More media on Labour’s shambolic housing policy launch

August 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Gower at 3 News reports:

What is wrong with David Cunliffe and the Labour Party?

Labour is going backwards when it should be going forward. That means something is seriously wrong with its campaign. …

And here’s one of the reasons why – Labour’s campaign is listless, meandering and shambolic.

The media with him say it’s a bit of a shamble and have been reporting on it. …

I took a look at Cunliffe’s campaign myself in Hobsonville yesterday.

Hobsonville quickly turned into campaign trail bizarro-world.

Cunliffe was out there to counter-attack on housing after Key trotted to the very same streets earlier in the week.

Cunliffe and housing spokesperson Phil Twyford re-announced the party’s Kiwbuild policy, saying Labour could build a $485,000 two-bedroom terraced house for $360,000 because of economies of scale.

But they didn’t have a house as an example, they were just standing on the street.

Twyford was saying there were heaps of examples of the $485,000 homes in Hobsonsville, but he didn’t know where they were and never got back to me with an address.

I can tell Twyford where one is – it’s just around the corner, a $450,000 two bedroom – I know because Key took us there on Monday.

Then they rolled out two first home buyers, Harrison and Jordy, who bagged National’s Homestart policy.

But under questioning they weren’t first home buyers at all, they weren’t even looking.

In fact they wouldn’t even buy a house under Labour’s policy.

Then it turned out that they were members of the EPMU, and they stopped answering questions when asked if they voted in Labour’s leadership campaign last election.

And despite the policy being around since David Shearer was leader, Labour still couldn’t come up with simple lines like when the first house will be built.

Labour seem to think photo ops are all they need to do, and that the media won’t ask for details. It’s good that the media are asking for details of a policy which will see the Government borrow $3 billion a year or so. Also good that they are asking for affiliations of people trotted out by Labour.

Felix Marwick at NewstalkZB is on the same tune:

It’s fair to say Labour’s re-launch of its KiwiBuild policy in Hobsonville on Wednesday didn’t run exactly smoothly.  Labour was looking to promote a specific part of its policy; two bedroom housing it claimed could be built 120 thousand dollars cheaper than under current government programmes.  They couldn’t show us a house. Nor could they initially say exactly how many of the houses would be built under the KiwiBuild approach. Finally the tame talent, which they’d brought along as an example of who would benefit from the policy, weren’t actually looking to buy a property just at the moment and wouldn’t even be able to immediately do so under Labour’s proposed initiative.

Again this will see taxpayers being exposed to $3 billion a year of borrowing for a policy which appears to be only slightly more advanced than an idea on a napkin.

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Labour’s aspiring home owners not actually looking to buy

August 28th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

David Cunliffe is backing the party’s choice of a couple used as a case study for Labour’s housing policy, after the pair conceded they weren’t actually looking to buy.

But one of them is a member of the Labour affiliated EPMU, so they’ll do!

Mr Cunliffe introduced Jordy Leigh, 20, and Harrison Smith, 22, as “a young couple who make about $75,000 a year”.

Not bad for so young.

Ms Leigh said they were currently living with her parents and although they had “had a look at houses in the Auckland area” she conceded they weren’t actively in the market to buy.

Twyford could not point out one of the properties he was talking about, saying they were scattered through the development.

The party could also not say how many $360,000 homes would be built.

“We haven’t actively been looking for a home to buy in the near future – that’s definitely not our goal – our goal is to have a home in a few years. We’re trying to start a family.”

Stuff points out:

However, Leigh, an EPMU union member, said their first home would still be out of reach even under Labour.

National’s policy would help only with the deposit and she and Smith couldn’t meet mortgage repayments.

“So, we haven’t been looking actively for a home to buy in the near future, that’s definitely not our goal,” Leigh said.

“Our goal is to have a home in a few years … not actively looking but aspiring to have our own home. We would not be able to get one next year. Under KiwiBuild we would have to wait a few years.”

Cunliffe shrugged off the gaffes and told reporters he wasn’t worried about Labour’s campaign.

What were the gaffes?

Twyford could not point out one of the properties he was talking about, saying they were scattered through the development.

The party could also not say how many $360,000 homes would be built.

So they could not point to a single specific house and say this is what they would build for $360,000 and can not say how many they could do for that price. It’s almost a con.

Nick Smith also points out the reality of Labour claiming 10,000 houses a year:

“KiwiBuild is a joke because Labour has no idea how it would build 10,000 homes a year, cannot explain how they would pay for it and they still have not worked out who would be eligible for the homes,” Dr Smith says.

“Launching the policy in Hobsonville only served to highlight Labour’s previous failings.

“Labour in government announced a 1600-home development on this land in 2002, but by 2008 had no planning approved, no resource consents, no infrastructure built nor a single house constructed.

“If they couldn’t build 1600 houses in six years, how can they promise 10,000 a year now under KiwiBuild?

As I said previously, if they do win it will be hilarious watching the excuses.

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Labour claims they can build Auckland homes for $360,000

August 27th, 2014 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour would be able to offer first home buyers two-bedroom properties in Auckland for as little as $360,000 if elected, party leader David Cunliffe announced today.

Labour’s KiwiBuild policy would build 100,000 new, affordable homes over 10 years and sell them at cost to first home buyers, Mr Cunliffe said.

“Using the purchasing power of the Government and off-site building techniques we will be able to lower the cost of building a home.

“This will enable Labour to sell a new two-bedroom terraced KiwiBuild home for around $360,000 in some parts of Auckland.

“That compares to around $485,000 for a similar Hobsonville home.” …

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford said KiwiBuild would deliver the equivalent of a Hobsonville $485,000 two-bedroom terrace home for $360,000 by forgoing the developer’s margin on the land cost-saving $36,000 and a further $89,000 would be saved by using off-site manufacturing, bulk buying building materials and reducing builders’ margin through high-volume tendering.

If Labour do win the election, it would be amusing to see them actually try to implement the policy and the excuses they’ll come up when the homes cost way way more than that. Maybe they’ll blame the unions for pushing the price of labour up!

Socialist parties always think that the state can provide things cheaper if you get rid of the profit margin, and economies of scale. But, you know what? The history of the world is they almost never do.

By this logic, we would all have much cheaper food if the Government owned all the farms. Think how much cheaper our food would be if farmers did not make any profit from the land, and instead the Government just employed them all directly?

And think about how much cheaper our food would be, if the Government centrally purchased all agricultural supplies for farmers. It would reduce the cost of farming massively, and hence food.

How about this for a challenge to Labour. If they really think they can produce two bedrooms houses in Hobsonville for $360,000 at no loss, then why don’t they promise to reimburse the taxpayers for any homes they build that cost more than that? Why should it be our money they gamble with?

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Labour’s latest billboard

August 27th, 2014 at 12:43 pm by David Farrar

Owly Images

This is not a parody. Iain Lees-Galloway posted it.

Good to have them be honest about the impact of their pro-union policies.

UPDATE: For the terminally stupid, this was a graphic posted to the Internet by Iain Lees-Galloway, not an actual physical billboard.

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Has Labour’s bribe backfired on them?

August 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s support among the elderly has slumped despite making free GP visits for pensioners the centrepiece of its election campaign launch recently.

A breakdown of the party vote according to age suggests a dramatic fall from 29.3 per cent among pensioners in last month’s poll to just 17.6 per cent in today’s poll.

Once the poll results are broken into age groups they are simply indicative.

But what makes the movement more credible is that New Zealand First, which assiduously courts the grey vote, has gone from 4.7 per cent support among the over 65-year-olds last month to 8.9 per cent of the older vote in today’s poll.

We can estimate how significant these changes are.

We don’t know how many over 65s were in the poll sample of 750, but let’s estimate 200.

A fall from 29.3% to 17.6% has a 99.3% chance of being a true fall, and only a 0.7% chance of being just random sample differences. So it is safe to conclude Labour has fallen in support from over 65s despite their bribe.

An increase from 4.7% to 8.9% has a 94.8% chance of being a true increase, so it is likely they have gained support from over 65s.

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Greens and Labour in Canterbury

August 18th, 2014 at 6:04 am by David Farrar

Georgina Stylianou at Stuff reports:

Cantabrians appear more likely to vote Green than people anywhere else in the country, a new poll suggests.

Data from the stuff.co.nz/Ipsos political poll shows the Green Party gained 8.8 percentage points, according to surveys done at the start of this month, putting the party on 21.2 per cent support in Canterbury against a national average of 11.3 per cent. …

 Labour lost traction in Canterbury for the second month in a row, with the latest data putting it on 14.2 per cent, down 10 percentage points. Last month, Labour lost 3 percentage points while National gained the same amount. National is polling at just over 55 per cent – down 4 percentage points from July – of the Canterbury party vote. …

Right-wing blogger and commentator David Farrar said the Greens and Labour had been competing for the same votes.

At a regional level, the data had a higher margin of error so to “say Canterbury is more Green . . . will require them to stay at that level for another month or so,” Farrar said.

Only 108 people in the poll were from Canterbury. That is a 9.4% margin of error

Greens went from 12.3% to 21.2%. There is a 94.7% chance their vote actually lifted.

Labour went from 17.2% to 14.2%. There is a 71.1% chance their vote actually dropped.

There is an 89.1% chance that the Greens are actually polling higher than Labour in Canterbury.

So none of these are at 95% confidence, but they are more likely than not by some distance.

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Labour’s Auckland Council policy

August 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Cameron Brewer points out:

Labour leader David Cunliffe’s tough talk today around future local government amalgamations does not hide the fact that Labour’s 2011 policies to overhaul Auckland’s “over centralised and corporatised  super city” have all been dropped, infuriating those on the Left hoping for further changes, says Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer.

“Mr Cunliffe’s roaring like a lion about proposed and future local government amalgamations, but when it comes to further reforming the super city structure that Labour promised three years ago, he’s turned into a big pussycat.”

Mr Brewer said in 2011 Labour’s manifesto vowed to “fix the super city’s democracy” including enshrining local board powers, replacing the Independent Maori Statutory Board with elected Maori seats, abolishing “a corporatised” Auckland Transport, and reviewing all laws and structures pertaining to Auckland Council’s governance and democracy. Back in 2011 Labour was also promising to tie in central government plans with Auckland’s priorities by promising to establish a “Common Accountability Platform for Auckland”.

“Labour’s policy pertaining to Auckland Council this election has been watered down to absolutely nothing which rest assured will be upsetting a lot of centre-left local body elected representatives,” he says.

“Labour shouts that it does not want another Government-imposed corporate-like model like Auckland’s, however Mr Cunliffe is no longer prepared to change anything to do with the super city. 

“Rather, despite all the bravado, Labour is now standing completely aside when it comes to Auckland. The most Labour is now promising is to encourage the council to hold some kind of public inquiry into how Auckland should be governed in the future. No promises of greater powers for local boards, scrapping the IMSB, or repealing super city legislation this election.

“It’s embarrassing for Mr Cunliffe that all his tough talk on local government amalgamations nationwide completely excludes anything changing in the super city – a model that Labour still claims to despise,” says Cameron Brewer

Brewer provides the two policies to compare:

The Labour Party’s 2014 Auckland local government policy: “Restore the power to Auckland Council to decide on its own structures for the delivery of transport and roading services, on which CCOs it retains, affirmation of the roles of Pacific, Ethnic and others, and on land use and housing planning and provision.  We will encourage Auckland Council to hold a full public inquiry into how best Auckland should be governed in the future.”

The Labour Party’s 2011 manifesto: “Labour will fix the super city’s democracy: enshrine powers of local boards, transition from the appointed Maori Statutory board to elected Maori seats, repeal the law that imposes a corporatised transport agency, and review the governance and democracy laws and structures after two years. Labour will set up a Common Accountability Platform for Auckland – Ministers, officials, and representatives of central government will agree common priorities with Auckland Mayor and Council, and ensure better, fairer better alignment between Aucklanders’ voices and needs, council capabilities, national policy and budget commitments.”

So their policy now is to basically ask the Council to have a public inquiry!

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$18 billion and rising

August 12th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce points out:

Updated figures today show that Labour’s election-year spending spree is now up to almost $17.9 billion over four years – and counting, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

“Labour’s own numbers show spending promises to date of $16.4 billion over four years,” Mr Joyce says.

“However, they have woefully underestimated the costs of introducing compulsory KiwiSaver, dismantling the electricity sector and paying a 12.5 per cent R&D tax credit.

“For example, Labour claims to be bringing 500,000 extra people into KiwiSaver from 1 October 2015, and would be paying them a tax credit that averages around $370 a year plus a $200 a year kick-start for the first five years. A simple calculation shows that the cost of this must be approaching $250 million in the first year, rather than $141 million as Labour is claiming.

“It’s interesting that Labour’s costing of exactly the same policy in 2011 was more than two-and-a-half times higher than it is now in 2014, so it  looks like they’ve cut a few corners this time around.”

Mr Joyce says when you put more realistic costs on these policies it takes Labour’s numbers to $17.9 billion over four years.

“More will be added to this bill as Labour makes more desperate promises – and that’s not counting the big spending of their prospective coalition partners the Greens,” Mr Joyce says.

Bye bye surplus, hello deficit it will be. Which means that Labour will have to keep increasing taxes.

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A sensible oldie

August 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

There were tough questions, soft questions, and sometimes no questions at all as Labour leader David Cunliffe took to the Auckland suburbs of Glen Innes, Onehunga and Tamaki yesterday to sell the party’s policies.

Fresh off his announcement that all over-65s, pregnant women and children under 13 would get free GP visits and prescriptions, Mr Cunliffe visited Onehunga Mall.

But it was a shaky start, as a gentleman threw up his hands in a flutter in an attempt to avoid shaking Mr Cunliffe’s hand.

And Colleen Whitehouse, 77, said she didn’t want Labour’s healthcare policy. “I think it would cost the country too much money.”

It wold, and far more than they say. Labour constantly make the mistake of never allowing for the fact that if you don’t charge for something, then far more people will use it.  Student associations used to give away free “hardship” money and every year they would report how surprised they were that more and more students would turn up wanting free money.

hardshipbyage

This graph is from the Dim Post, where Danyl points out:

Labour’s policy is a generous subsidy to the least needy group in the country. It’s also a very large group of people with high health-care needs and giving them ‘free’ access to healthcare is going to cause a huge increase in demand for primary health services.

Labour is promoting higher taxes on families and businesses of up to $5 billion a year, so they can increase subsidies to the “least needy”. Our aging population already poses massive fiscal challenges to us in terms of affordable healthcare and superannuation. Labour’s policy will make future healthcare even more unaffordable.

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Which Labour MP was a Soviet informant?

August 12th, 2014 at 5:18 am by David Farrar

Phil Kitchin at Stuff reports:

KGB files smuggled out of Russia reveal a former Labour MP was an informant for the feared Soviet spy agency and was given the codename “Gerd”.

The files say the MP was in contact with Yuri Drozhzhin, the KGB agent who handled former top government official Bill Sutch for several years. …

The Mitrokhin files say an unnamed Labour MP, born in England in 1926, was in contact with Drozhzhin during the KGB agent’s Wellington posting.

He was given the codename “Gerd”, and information passed to the KGB said he was also a member of Labour’s executive committee.

There can’t be that many former Labour MPs born in 1926 in England. A chocolate fish to anyone who can name one or more.

The Dom Post editorial also looks at whether the evidence stacks up to conclude Sutch was a spy. They note:

What are we to make of this? Like all historical documents, this one must be interpreted carefully. The reports of spies to their superiors are like all other bureaucratic reports: they aim partly to impress the boss, to put the best spin on things, to prove the efficiency and value of the underling’s work.

Helen Sutch, the economist’s daughter, dismisses the KGB file for this reason. It was “well-known that KGB agents in general were desperate to talk up any contacts they had because they were under pressure from their superiors”.

Certainly this kind of thing could have happened. Do we know that it happened with Sutch? It needs to be said that the Mitrokhin Files, which are the source of the Sutch entry, have proved reliable in many other cases.

When these reports were written, the authors never imagined the mighty USSR would fall, and these reports would become public one day.

And then there is the circumstantial evidence that brought suspicion on Sutch’s head. His stated reason for meeting a Russian agent on a dark and rainy night in a Wellington suburb was farcical. He wanted to discuss Zionism, he said.

Put all of this together – the entry in the Russian archive, the general reliability of the Mitrokhin material, and Sutch’s extremely dodgy dealings with a KGB agent – and the conclusion seems reasonably clear. Sutch was indeed a Russian spy.

I think that is the most reasonable conclusion.

Some have pointed out the files do not include details of any actual spying activity, which is true. The argument is that he supported the Soviet Union (which is a horrific lapse of judgment in its own right) but never gave them actual classified material that was detrimental to NZ security. It’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure what sort of information he did give them, but regardless my view is that passing any information at all to what was then a totalitarian oppressive state showed he was a man whose ideology got ahead of everything else.

UPDATE: A reader suggests to me that the codename “Gerd” gives a clue to the former Labour MP, even though the exact details of DOB and place of birth do not fit.

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Labour Party candidate calls John Key “Shylock”

August 11th, 2014 at 1:24 pm by David Farrar

shylock

 

Steve Gibson is Labour’s candidate for Rangitata.

He is entitled to call John Key a “nasty little creep, “with a nasty evil vindictive sneer” even though this doesn’t quite fit Labour’s Vote Positive campaign.

But he is not entitled to call John Key “Shylock”. That is racist and anti-Semitic.

I expect Labour will deselect Steve Gibson rather than have a racist candidate. Well I hope they do.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

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Garner on Xenophobia

August 11th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes at the Dom Post:

So suddenly we’re all against selling off farms to foreigners. Well, it’s not really just foreigners, is it. Let’s be honest – we’re worried about the Chinese buying our farms. They’re not like us. There you go, I said it. Clearly many are thinking it. Cue Opposition politicians lining up to scratch our collective itch. Nationalism? Racism? Xenophobia? All of the above? The reality is we’ve been hocking off our farms to overseas buyers for years and no-one seemed too fussed. Australians, Germans, Russians, the Swiss and the Americans – no worries.

You expect it from NZ First, but not from Labour.

The debate has flared up over Lochinver Station, near Taupo. A reputable Chinese company wants to buy it for $70 million. They bought Crafar Farms and, from all reports, have improved it. They promise to upgrade Lochinver and keep the 20 Kiwi staff on. The sellers, the Stevenson family, want to take the money and reinvest it in their other business interests, such as quarries, and create about 8000 jobs over time. Surely we support that – don’t we? Labour has effectively pledged to stop the sale if it gets into government. Let’s pause and consider the hypocrisy: Labour’s position is a massive change of heart.  And Winston Peters, who was in government too from 2005-2008  must have been asleep at the wheel. Labour allowed Poronui Station to be sold in 2007 – that’s the farm next door to Lochinver Station. Labour Cabinet minister David Parker even asked a question of himself in Parliament about that sale – trumpeting the benefits of foreign investment.

They are such hypocrites.

In the last term of the Labour-NZ First government, an average of 762 square kilometres of land was sold every year. The amount sold in the past five years under National has been about 390sq km a year. The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa estimates about 8 per cent of our best farmland is in foreign hands. Should we have banned film director James Cameron from buying his farms in the Wairarapa? He’s about to make Avatar 2, 3 and 4 in New Zealand and that will create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Should he have been told to bugger off? Labour leader David Cunliffe is even suggesting that Australians be banned from owning big farms here too. He’s taking ‘‘advice’’ over it – which is code for he’s making up policy on the hoof.

What’s new. And for outright racism, here’s Winston:

“As they say in Beijing, two Wongs don’t make a right.”

Winston defends the joke on the basis he heard it Beijing. But jokes are all about context. When you make the joke in the context of spreading fear and phobia about Chinese, then it is not funny, but nasty.

Jamie Whyte points out:

David Cunliffe’s suggestion that Australians be banned from owning big farms invites retaliation from Australia. 500,000 Kiwis currently live in Australia and many own land there or would like to.

Last year, Cunliffe told Australian government ministers and business leaders to give Kiwis “a fair go.”

Cunliffe said it is unfair that New Zealanders in Australia are treated differently from Australians in Australia. Yet he seeks to be Prime Minister on a promise to treat Australians differently from New Zealanders.

The inevitable retaliation would have a delicious irony, with Russell Norman’s support for the policy losing him his right to buy land in his home country. But that joy will be far outweighed by the terrible losses to New Zealanders.

The freedom to move back and forth across the Tasman, and to buy and sell property in both countries, is a great advantage to New Zealanders. The government should guard it jealousy. It should not be put at risk for the cheap political purposes of a desperate politician.

Land sales are regulated. Anything over a certain size must meet a national interest test. You can debate whether the test should be altered, but those parties advocating an outright ban are trying to reintroduce Fortress New Zealand from the 1970s.

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Labour’s health promises not well targeted

August 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour is promising 1.7 million people – 40 per cent of the population – will be eligible for free doctors visits and prescriptions under a Labour-led government.

Leader David Cunlifffe announced the plan today at his campaign launch in Auckland saying the September 20 election was about a choice between prosperity for all or only for a few.

“After another three years heading in the direction we’re heading we just won’t know this country. Our rivers will be dirty. What’s left of our assets will be sold, and so will vast tracts of our land. We will be tenants in our own country,” Cunliffe told the 800 strong audience, in a reference to the recent controversy over farm sales to foreigners.

The major health package includes free doctors visits and prescriptions for almost 700,000 people aged over 65 at a cost of $120m.

This is a massively mis-targeted policy which is entirely about votes, not health.

The Ministry of Health done an annual health survey. One of their questions is whether someone has not gone to see a GP in the last year due to the cost. Here is the breakdown, in order, by age:

  • 25 – 34: 22.3%
  • 35 – 44: 17.8%
  • 15 – 24: 15.8%
  • 45 – 54: 13.9%
  • 55 – 64: 12.1%
  • 65 – 74: 6.3%
  • 75+: 4.7%

So Labour’s policy is not just slightly badly targeted – it is as far away from the area of most need as possible. They are saying we must provide free GP visits to the age group that has the least problem paying. It’s is purely about middle class welfare votes, not about health.

What about free presciptions? Here’s the breakdown by age again of those who did not get a prescription filled because of cost:

  • 25 – 34: 7.6%
  • 45 – 54: 7.5%
  • 35 – 44: 7.2%
  • 15 – 24: 6.1%
  • 55 – 64: 5.6%
  • 65 – 74: 3.2%
  • 75+: 1.9%

Also the Health Survey shows a positive trend for prescriptions, not a worsening one. The proportion of elderly not being able to afford to get their prescriptions filled dropped by a quarter to a third in the last year.

So again Labour policy is aimed at those with the least problem paying. It is a very cynical costly bribe.

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Labour’s campaign launch

August 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

An unidentified columnist at Stuff writes:

Has Labour miscalculated?

Its campaign launch tomorrow will have all the glamour of any event held at Auckland’s waterfront on the viaduct. That decision was no doubt deliberate.

If ever there was an occasion when Labour needed to put on its game face it’s the campaign launch, when it needs to convince the punters it is still in the game.

A party atmosphere can hardly hurt.

But National has stolen a march on Labour by launching its own campaign in two weeks from Manukau in the heart of South Auckland, traditional Labour territory.

Given that this is where Labour has placed much of its focus on turning out several hundred thousand voters who went awol in 2011, the challenge thrown down by National is clear.

Don’t just assume those voters will all go your way, is the inference that can be drawn from National’s deliberate march into Labour’s heartland.

It is a very ballsy move by National.

Since his earliest days as prime minister, Key has harboured a dream of extending National’s support into heartland Labour areas like South Auckland, particularly among the more conservative Pacific Island communities turned off Helen Clark’s government by its anti-smacking stance.

That is part of National’s wider strategy of being a party with appeal to a broad spectrum of voters by reaching out to non-traditional constituencies.

The May budget, with its extension to paid parental leave and free doctors’ visits showed National is not squeamish about cribbing policy from opponents to further this goal.

Labour has been slow to wake up to National’s game plan.

Even Key’s comments about targeting future tax cuts at low to middle income earners show the extent to which National remains focused on the strategy.

I want tax cuts, and I am very happy if they are targeted at low to middle income earners. a reduction in the bottom tax rate means all taxpayers get a tax cut.

For years, Labour successfully papered over the divisions between its left and right factions, thanks largely to the iron-clad control of Helen Clark.

But the last few years have seen it re-erupt to the extent that both sides seem hell-bent on giving the impression they might even relish the prospect of a loss on September 20 so they can blame the other for engineering it.

The party’s left faction are already talking up a caucus purge and de-selection after the election.

Excellent. Purges are always a great idea.

This is also a fight over whether David Cunliffe should stay on and lead the party in the event of defeat.

Those who believe he must stay are ranged against those in the caucus who they see as wanting to use defeat as an opportunity to roll Cunliffe.

Cunliffe’s office doesn’t even bother to hide the divisions between the caucus and the wider grassroots. One senior adviser called recently to take issue with a statement that the grassroots had grown increasingly distant from the party. Their complaint was not that it was untrue, but that it was the other way round – the caucus had grown distant from the grassroots.

Think about that statement. A senior staff member in the Labour Leader’s office called a journalist, to slag off the caucus. And if they win, these guys will be running the country.

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Leyland on Labour

August 8th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Leyland writes:

New Zealand politics is very odd at the best of times. Yesterday was particularly strange when we saw a story about how outrageous it was that Labour candidate Kelvin Davis dared to actually campaign against his opponent. We are really in the twilight zone now.

David Cunliffe is putting Labour in a very awkward position by continuing to flip flop on doing a deal with Internet Mana. Last week he refused to rule them out, but then by this morning he had entirely changed his tune.

The problem is that a leader that is shifty about who he will work with will very quickly lose all credibility. He just looks hungry for power at any cost, and if he’s not going to back his own candidates and MPs, what hope do the people of New Zealand have that he will back them as Prime Minister?

Very valid points. Patrick is a former staff member in the Labour Leader’s office.

Don’t get me wrong, I want a Labour government. A deal in Te Tai Tokerau, or allowing Hone to win, would possibly assist that. But Cunliffe can’t have it both ways. He can’t go on TV and say Labour won’t work with Internet Mana, then suppress a campaign to ensure they win in Te Tai Tokerau. He can’t say that the coattails rule and rort by National in Epsom is unacceptable, then be complacent in using it to make himself the PM. It is those inconsistencies that annoy Labour’s base, shifts voters to the Greens (or even National in the case of many Labour supporters who can’t stand Internet Mana), and makes Labour’s message confused and unappealing to centre voters.

In other words your actions need to match your words.

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Labour’s policy to block small businesses from Government tenders

August 7th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

Labour’s small business policy promises to significantly increase the proportion of government undertaken by small business.  This is good, but….

Labours Work and Wages policy will “ensure that government bodies only contract with businesses that are good employers including a history of adhering to employment legislation, and respecting the right of their employees to join a union and bargain collectively.”

Labour will also “seek to use the purchasing power of the state to create incentives for private sector employers who can become certified Living Wage employers.”

Small businesses will not be exempt from the good employer requirements, unless Labour proposes to backtrack on its Work and Wages Policy.  Most small businesses are not unionised.  Does this mean they will need to unionise to get a look in?  Will they have to pay $18.40 or more to their employees before they get a look in?

Labour’s policy does seem to be that the Government should discriminate against employers who do not unionised workplaces, which will mean almost all small businesses.

This is a very self serving policy. Almost all business policies of Labour’s are about forcing or incentivising more people to join unions. Unions in turn then use their extra money to help Labour get elected, in four ways:

  1. Some unions join Labour and get to vote on their leader, candidates and policies
  2. Some unions donate directly to Labour
  3. Almost all unions allow their staff to spend as much time as they want campaigning for Labour on work time
  4. Many unions run third party campaigns on issues, designed to help Labour get elected

So while one of Labour’s policies say they want more small businesses winning tenders, the small print is only if they have unionised workforces, to help fund the Labour Party.

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On Labour’s Youth Employment Policy

August 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

Maybe your  readers can figure this one out….

Labour’s Youth Employment policy announced today includes  the Kick Start Apprenticeship scheme. This will offer a payment of $9,100 ( the equivalent of the dole) each time an employer provides a full time permanent job, salary and training to an unemployed youth who is 18 or 19, been on the dole for at least 3 months and is at medium to high risk of being on the dole full time. 

This might make sense if it weren’t for the fact  that Labour’s Work and Wages Policy will significantly increase the minimum wage and remove youth rates and 90 day trial periods! 

I can just see employers flocking to grab $9k for the privilege of putting huge effort into inexperienced  unmotivated youth with no comeback if they don’t work out, and paying them the same as experienced workers…..Not much chance of government being a player either as Labour has promised that government employers will to pay at least $18.40 to first time employees .  It will be cheaper to leave them on the dole!!!

Very good points. 90 day trials allow employers to take a risk on a young inexperienced voter.

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Joyce attacks Labour xenophobia

August 2nd, 2014 at 2:04 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has accused Labour of “xenophobia” in their opposition of the potential sale of Lochinver Station to the Chinese company that bought the Crafar Farms.

Mr Joyce and Grant Robertson, economic development spokesman for Labour, appeared on TV3′s The Nation this morning and discussed the sale.

Mr Robertson said under Labour the sale would not go ahead.

“Our criteria would definitely mean that a sale like this would be highly unlikely.”

Mr Joyce said the opposition were “electioneering” in relation to the issue.

“When did [Labour] go out and oppose the purchase of James Cameron’s land?”

“A little xenophobia from the Labour Party to start the day,” he said.

Cameron is becoming a resident, but you rarely hear Labour attack Harvard University for land purchases, Shania Twain, Australians or Canadians. But if it is Chinese, then they have lots to say.

Mr Joyce said the Lochinver Station was a “ridiculously small amount of land” in the North Island to sell off.

The Lochinver sheep and beef farm site is valued at $70 million and covers 13,800ha.

That’s 138 square kms. Around 0.05% of NZ. At this rate China will own all our land in the year 3,956. Panic, panic, everyone.

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Transtasman on Labour media management

August 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The latest Transtasman notes:

The tawdry cry of media bias, marinated in bitterness and misanthropy, has been held aloft by Labour activitists. They have a point, but not the one they think they are making. How journalists’ view political parties is affected by many factors, and individual political biases and prejudgements is only one of them – and seldom the most important. Almost every journalist in the press gallery has tales of slow or non-existent response from Labour to requests for information, or of interviews/appearances agreed to and  then “pulled” at the last minute.

It isn’t a matter of incompetent staff: the almost total turnover in the past three years is only one indication something deeper is the problem.

No one knows what is going on because people who should be told are not told, and the big reason for this is internal levels of mistrust are so toxic.

It adds up to an organisation – and we use the word ‘organisation’ with some degree of over-stretch here – which cannot do the political equivalent of walk from Mum’s car to the kindergarten gate with out having a trouser incident. 

And of course this affects coverage.

Journalists experience this level of cluster-fornication every day and it has a deep impact. And this is before we get to the public snafus, the destructive and bitter factionalism and the way many electorate candidates are distancing themselves from the current, official election strategy. Almost everything Labour does at the moment sends the message it is in no position to run anything.

If there is a tone of disrespect in how journalists cover Labour – and there very definitely is – it is because Labour is not behaving in a way which earns respect.

The scary thing is that despite this level of toxicity, they could end up in Government in 51 days. It only needs a 4% swing or so and Labour could form a Government with the Greens, NZ First, Mana and Dotcom parties.

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Quin on inept Labour

July 31st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Phil Quin writes in the Herald:

To paraphrase US comedian Lily Tomlin, who was talking about cynicism at the time, no matter how dire Labour’s political management reveals itself to be, it’s impossible to keep up.

Last week, I broke a cardinal rule and spent some time wading through left-wing blogs, as well as comment sections on more mainstream sites.

Oh dear.

It is clear the small number of Labour, Green and Internet-Mana Party activists who populate these dusty corners of cyberspace have convinced themselves the media are systematically rallying behind John Key’s re-election and conspiring against the left.

The paranoia is hilarious.

Supporters and activists find it much easier to blame straw-men, presumably along with a mandatory 50 per cent of straw-women, than confront the painful truth that the political operation surrounding David Cunliffe is strategically misguided and tactically inept.

Heh, nice dig at quotas. But an important blunt assessment by a former Labour staffer.

To my mind, the Cunliffe apology for being a man was by far the most damaging of these. According to a Herald poll, only 9 per cent of respondents thought the manpology was a smart move, and yet the overwhelming preponderance of leftist commentary insisted either that Cunliffe was right to say sorry for possessing external genitalia, or that the apology wasn’t a big deal.

My mantra during this pre-election period has been that Labour’s strategists are misguided in their conviction that fewer than 30 per cent of the vote is sufficient to form a viable government.

With others, like Shane Jones and Josie Pagani, I have urged the party to lift its sights to become a 40 per cent party, capable of winning a broad spectrum of voters from all parts of the country.

The sad thing is that many on the left celebrated Jones leaving the Labour caucus, and they revile Pagani and want her gone also.

In particular, we make the case that Labour has all but surrendered in provincial New Zealand, and that this is a strategic bungle of epic proportions.

Labour holds just one seat in provincial NZ, and they may lose that one in this election.

If Labour fails to break well into the 30s, the party president and general secretary should resign and party council members should convene urgently to consider their own positions.

It is not shocking in the context of New Zealand electoral history for John Key to win a third term; what is untenable is that he looks set to do so with a higher vote than either of the past two outings.

As for David Cunliffe, he should resign with grace and alacrity as soon as it becomes apparent he is unable to form a government, which might be far earlier on the evening of September 20 than any Labour voter would wish to contemplate.

I’m told David Cunliffe has made it very clear he has no intention to resign in the event of a loss.

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Labour’s Hobbit Haters are back

July 31st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party wants to repeal the law changes that were ceded to Warner Bros over The Hobbit films, a move which the Government says would cripple the $3 billion screen industry.

The Greens policies will kill off the oil industry while Labour’s would kill off the film industry. Combine the two of them together, and you shudder.

A $2 boost in the minimum wage to $16.25 an hour by early 2015 would mean an extra $4000 a year for those workers – but the Government was quick to dismiss this as costing up to 6000 jobs.

Why stop at $16.25? Why not $25 an hour?

Mr Bridges said the minimum wage in New Zealand was the highest in the world, relative to the average wage.

It is. The way to grow wages is to increase productivity, not by legislation.

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Trotter on Labour’s electorate MPs

July 28th, 2014 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Well, I say “Labour” but, really, the hoarding facing us was all about Phil Goff. It was his ugly mug and buck-toothed smile that confronted the viewer, and his name in bold sans-serif that somebody had helpfully placed a big tick underneath. Oh sure, right down the very bottom you could, if you squinted hard enough, make out the Labour Party’s slogan “Vote Positive”, and yes, there was even an exhortation to “Party Vote Labour”. But, seriously, nobody driving by is going to have time to register anything other than the local MP, Phil Goff, is soliciting their vote.

I’m told this is happening all over the country. That the hoardings erected by Labour electorate MPs are, overwhelmingly, self-promoting. Not the party (unless you have very good eyesight). And certainly not the Leader. (God forbid!) In spite of delivering the worst result in 90 years, the so-called “election strategy” of 2008, promote the candidate – not the party, is being idiotically repeated – by the same idiots!

Chris means 2011.

The fundamental message of the MMP system: Only the Party Vote matters! is, once again, being studiously ignored by MPs whose only concern is to retain their seniority in Labour’s faction-ridden caucus.

What this will produce, just as it did in 2008, is the absurdity of Labour plummeting to 27 percent in the Party Vote, but capturing 32 percent of the Electorate Vote. Had those figures been reversed on Election Night three years ago, Phil Goff would now be Prime Minister.

Well depends where they pick the party votes up from.

That Phil Goff is promoting himself alone, that his leader’s image is being relegated (as his own was in 2008) to the back streets, adds up, in my opinion, to just one bleak message.

Labour is heading for the worst defeat in its 98-year history.

We can only hope.

Danyl McL has also noted that very small Labour logos on the billboards.

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Labour’s Comms & ICT policies

July 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I think it is a sign that the Government is doing most things right,  when most of Labour’s policies seem to be to keep the status quo and just have a lot of reviews. This is not a bad thing. An Opposition shouldn’t promise massive change just for the sake of it.

Labour’s policy is here. The details are:

  • Review the Ultra-fast Broadband project
  • Review the Rural Broadband Initiative
  • Review the telecommunications regulatory framework
  • Review the Telecommunications Service Obligations
  • Encourage local authorities to include broadband availability in their online maps
  • Hope someone builds a second cable, and offer the same money as National to be an anchor tenant in one
  • $2.4 million a year for local Councils to roll out Internet access to low income communities
  • $1.6 million a year for a pilot rural fibre connectivity scheme
  • $1.3 million a year for a connectivity innovation fund
  • Review the Telecommunications, Commerce and Radio Communication Acts
  • Review the Copyright Act
  • Review the recommendations of the Data Futures Forum

There’s nothing bad in this policy. The modest spending commitment of around $5 million could get some good results.  But largely the policy is an endorsement of the status quo and almost a dozen reviews. Some seem pointless, while others are very desirable (I am very keen on a first principles review of copyright law).

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Labour doesn’t want Hosking

July 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

The state broadcaster is refusing to budge, declaring: “Mike is our man.”

Leader David Cunliffe’s inner circle believes the Seven Sharp host is too close to National and has compiled a dossier of examples.

I think it is pretty obviously that Mike Hosking has a centre-right worldview. Just as John Campbell has a centre-left worldview. The issue is not their world-view, but whether they would be biased and be unfair moderating a debate.

I’ve never heard of National demanding (for example) that John Campbell not moderate a TV3 leaders debate, so am surprised that Labour is so sensitive that they are trying to demand a moderator they agree with.

National’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce, rejected this and said he was happy with the current format of prime minister versus opposition leader.

He said the party had no issues with TV3 using John Campbell for its televised debate. “We’ve all got to trust the professionalism of the interviewers,” he said. “There are people who think John Campbell is to the Left but the prime minister is more than happy to front on both TV channels.”

Sensible.

 

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