RIP Peter Conway

June 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government and Business New Zealand have joined in tributes to former Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway who died suddenly yesterday.

Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse said Mr Conway was an engaging, intelligent and passionate advocate for workers who had committed his whole working life to improving the lives of working people. …

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly said Mr Conway was unfailingly constructive as an advocate in employment relations and highly respected by all who worked with him.

“Peter was an industrial leader of the highest integrity and his passing is a sad loss to New Zealand.”

John Bishop of the Taxpayers’ Unions described him as “an unfailingly honourable and dedicated New Zealander who strove to serve the people he represented”.

I think it says a lot about someone who was in the political sphere when they are praised not just by those people on the same side of the spectrum as them, but also sincerely respected and praised by those on the other side.

His family issued a statement yesterday saying he had battled a depressive illness for a year.

“Peter fought hard in a daily struggle to stay with the family he loved. He carried this terrible illness with the same dignity and kindness that he lived his life, but ultimately it took him.”

Mr Conway is survived by his wife, Liz Riddiford, and three children, Maddy, Sean and Rosa.

My condolences to his family and friends.


October 12th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A nice headline in the Herald about how the dole queue has dropped for the first time in around a year. However I would not read too much into it:

  • Firstly the HLFS is the better (and internationally) comparable figure of unemployment as it measures everyone available and looking for work regardless of if they are on the dole.
  • Some of the drop is because of the Government’s subsidies for young people. Now it is great this has got them into work, and off the dole, the effect may not be permanent.
  • There are seasonal issues, and over summer you gets tens of thousands of tertiary students seeking work

So I still expect unemployment to increase in the HLFS in Sep 2009 and Dec 2009 quarters. But maybe things will get better before late 2010.

But Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said the figure tallied with other evidence that employment might be picking up much sooner than the September quarter of next year, when current economic forecasts predict unemployment will peak at 7.5 to 8 per cent.

“There’s a good possibility of a permanent trend downwards from early next year,” he said.

That would be good.

Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway agreed that the signs were that unemployment would peak sooner than next September and at less than 8 per cent.

He and Mr O’Reilly noted there had been no large-scale closures in the last few months, although there was a risk that some businesses might be forced under by the strength of the dollar.

Let’s just hope the US economy doesn’t implode, causing a W shaped recession.

Bank economists

June 15th, 2008 at 9:18 am by David Farrar

After Michael Cullen attacked bank economists as talking up their own banks’ interests, the SST has looked at whether it is true. Extracts:

“It’s absolute bollocks,” says Westpac chief economist Brendan O’Donovan. If bank economists were seen to be always trying to talk their business up “and not talking the reality of the situation, then our credibility’s out the door and no one will listen to anything we say”. …

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says some of the policies he publicly espouses are not in the bank’s interests. He advocates a fixed interest rate levy, which increases whenever the Reserve Bank puts up interest rates. This effectively removes fixed interest rates. …

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie says the material produced by the bank’s economists “is not the bank’s thinking. No, it comes out of the economics team led by myself but it’s not reviewed by a higher order of the bank”.

The team had to give its customers honest forecasts. Sometimes the bank management had “grimaced” at some of his statements. …

The bank economists’ case gets support from a perhaps unexpected corner Council of Trade Unions (CTU) economist Peter Conway. …

One reason the bank economists got a lot of media attention, Conway says, was that they were “very good”. They had a lot of resources and could quickly produce well-informed commentaries on a variety of subjects.

Bank economists clearly have some constraints on their freedom to speak, but so do other economists. Conway can’t publicly criticise the economic position of the CTU. Reporters, says Conway, need to “shop around” and get the views of economists from a variety of backgrounds.

In other words Dr Cullen was shooting the messengers.