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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Labour MPs enjoyed Joyce roast of Cunliffe

July 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Joyce took the first call in Wednesday afternoon’s general debate — long a platform for Parliament’s better orators — to parody Labour’s under-the-weather David Cunliffe in a fashion that was as clever as it was cruel as it was funny.

Within the space of a five-minute speech, Joyce had revealed another weapon in his armoury — the ability to cut an opponent down by sheer wit — and thereby further enhanced his credentials as the frontrunner for National’s leadership when Key finally moves on.

There was, however, another interesting outcome from his contribution — its impact on those sitting opposite him.

Cunliffe was not in the chamber. But those Labour MPs who were initially tried to ignore what was a virtuoso performance. But their barely suppressed smiles gave the game away.

When the cat is away, the mice will play!

Fortunately for Cunliffe, Labour is also now closer to election day than it was in 1990 when Mike Moore deposed Sir Geoffrey Palmer in a questionable coup which had the sole purpose of saving the party from being completely routed by National.

56 days to go.

Cunliffe’s cause has not been helped by Labour whingeing over TVNZ choosing Mike Hosking — someone Labour sees as biased in National’s favour — to be the moderator for the channel’s debates.

Hosking is a professional. He hardly needs reminding that his performance will be scrutinised intently. Any bias will be blatantly obvious. Which is why there will not be any bias. Labour has every right to object. In doing so, however, the party projects the image of a loser.

If anything I suspect Hosking will go harder on Key, because he has said favourable things about him in the past.

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Joyce in fine form

July 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce was in fine form highlighting David Cunliffe’s apologies in Parliament yesterday. Some extracts:

In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Steven also highlights their regional growth policy:

And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.

He also highlights the comments by Stuart Nash:

I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. 

Almost too easy.

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Joyce rated more valuable than Cunliffe

June 9th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce has two events on the 18th of June.

They have a breakfast with David Cunliffe for $45.

Then a lunch with Steven Joyce for $55.

Now they price these events based on what they think people will pay (Hence why lunch with PM with Trans-Tasman Council was $500 or so, and $85 at the Chamber).

This shows that Steven Joyce is rated more valuable than David Cunliffe!

 

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Pagani says Parker did not get nine things wrong

May 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Josie Pagani responds to Steven Joyce’s statement that David Parker made nine mistakes in just one interview. It’s a war of competing statistics as Pagani does a better job of defending Parker than Labour has managed!

 

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Is this a record?

April 28th, 2014 at 2:55 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce points out:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3′s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

Is this a record for a single interview?

The nine inaccuracies are:

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Nice to see Ministers do some fisking.

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Joyce once voted Social Credit!

March 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce does 12 questions with the NZ Herald. Some extracts:

No, I haven’t always voted National. I’ve never voted Labour but I’m thinking I might have voted in ’81 for Social Credit and ’84 for the New Zealand Party. 

It’s fine to have voted NZ Party in 1984. But Social Credit in 1981 – oh dear me.

Are older dads different do you think?

You’re assuming I’m old. I’m younger than I look, I assure you. I don’t know about different, but sometimes it’s hard for older dads to keep up. You do get the benefits of experience of course. I’m just glad I am a dad. Should I have done it earlier? Well, that would have been a problem because I hadn’t met my wife.

Heh, indeed. As it happens I was present the day they met! But so were around 200 other people – it was a National caucus party.

Who is the non-National politician you admire most?

It has to be Annette [King]. We’ve had five years together on radio now, talking in the breaks and so on. I volunteered to be her campaign manager for the Labour leadership – I even had a slogan “King for Queen” – but she has yet to take me up on it.

Never too late!

 

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Joyce on maintaining economic growth

January 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce writes in the NZ Herald:

So how do we keep growth happening? How do we lift New Zealand’s longer term growth rate so that we add more jobs, reach our potential, and become a true “Pacific Tiger” rather than just a short-term success story? I think there are several key things:

1. Keep opening our markets and building strong people to people relationships. The lesson of the China FTA is obvious. If we can get a good TPP deal, then we should grab it – along with other FTA and trade opportunities.

2. Innovate, innovate and innovate. The National-led Government is putting a lot of taxpayers’ money into assisting firms and their ideas. As a country we are starting to see the power of innovation in our industries but we need to keep lifting private sector investment in research and development to international norms.

3. Keep building the skills of a successful and innovative trading nation. Encourage more of our young people into the careers that breed innovation, like engineering, ICT, and science.

4. Encourage more capital to invest in New Zealand. The mixed ownership programme has helped set up a stellar year for our stock exchange. We need to build on that. Capital investment in competitive industries creates sustainable jobs.

5. We need to keep removing red tape and provide certainty to investors, especially in resource industries. That means making decisions quickly and effectively, while also working to improve environmental outcomes.

6. We need to keep building infrastructure to support a growth-oriented country. Great progress has been made in electricity transmission and ultra-fast broadband. Those projects need to be finished. And we need to keep investing in our transport systems for safety and efficiency. That means high-quality four-lane roads in and out of our main centres, resilient highways elsewhere, and quality public transport that people want to use.

Finally – and above all – we need to make responsible fiscal and economic decisions that keep the tax burden low and pay off debt. We need to keep rewarding New Zealanders with efficient public services and lower income taxes than elsewhere. It’s talented, hard-working Kiwis who get out of bed every day that make all this happen. Kiwis strive and succeed because they see the benefits of their hard work. If politicians keep remembering that then New Zealand will truly become a Pacific Tiger.

In terms of the skills referred to in No 3, Joyce also announced yesterday:

“Four years ago we had a highly complicated vocational training system in New Zealand with a total of 39 separate industry training organisations and more than 4500 separate qualifications”, Mr Joyce says.

“ITOs were falling over each other and had signed up many trainees that were trainees in name only. Single employers were in some cases having to deal with a number of ITOs.

“With the latest ITO merger just prior to Christmas, we start this year with only 14 Industry Training Organisations,” Mr Joyce says. “This smaller number of generally larger scale organisations means that they can provide a better service to trainees and employers. There is now, for example, just one ITO for the primary sector – down from seven ITOs three years ago.

The number of qualifications at the vocational level has also been reduced. There were 4610 separate qualifications at Levels 1 to 6 at the beginning of 2011 and this has been reduced by 63 per cent so far to less than 1750 by the end of last year. The current targeted review of qualifications seeks to have the number reduced to around 1300 by the end of this year.

4,610 different trade qualifications was insanely high.

“We had a huge spaghetti of qualifications at sub-degree level in this country,” Mr Joyce says. “It was difficult for learners to decide when and how to study, and difficult for employers to understand the nature and quality of the different qualifications. The targeted review has meant that we have reduced, for example, 213 ICT qualifications to 14, and similarly 69 mechanical engineering qualifications have been reduced to nine.

213 ICT qualifications!!

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Yay – no taxpayer money for Wellington Airport

August 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is confident the Government will rethink helping pay for an airport runway extension.

I’m confident they won’t.

That’s despite Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce quashing any hopes the Government might put its weight behind the plans.

But Ms Wade-Brown this morning said a business case and resource consent were being worked through. When the business case was complete, the Government would ‘‘keep an open mind’’, she said.

Infratil say the new runway will cost $300 million and they want taxpayers and/or ratepayers to fork up $200 million of it. Outrageous.

In any case, taxpayer funding would not necessarily be needed, she said.

So Celia wants ratepayers to fork up the entire $200 million?

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Pathetic

July 5th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First has criticised the cost of Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce’s recent four-day trip to Europe but Mr Joyce has hit back.

Mr Joyce visited Poland, Germany, Brussels and the United Kingdom in June to strengthen New Zealand’s science, innovation and international education links with the European Union.

He opened the biennial New Zealand-European Commission joint science and technology co-operation meeting in Brussels.

Answers to written questions show the budget for the trip was $56,700, a total NZ First leader Winston Peters said was the equivalent of two minimum wage jobs.

Mr Joyce confirmed today the budget for his trip was $56,700 but said actual costs were still being processed.

He said 75 per cent of the budget was spent on airfares and has called Mr Peters a “hypocrite” for his comments.

“This was the guy who as foreign minister defined spending money. For example, in 2006 he managed to spend more than $250,000 in three months – which equates to around $300,000 today – and he said at the time that was to be expected.

“The good news is that I didn’t burn any bedspreads.”

Heh, no smoking in bed.

But it is truly sad and pathetic to see a former foreign minister attacking Ministers for their travel. Winston presided over a culture of extravagance at MFAT with massive boosts to their budgets.

“While Steven Joyce and his staff are jet-setting around the world, more and more New Zealanders are lining up to collect the dole”.

This trip was not jet setting. Certainly some trips, such as Speaker’s Tours, are fairly shall we say relaxed. But most Ministerial travel consists of 16 hour days, and no spare time at all.

Where did Mr Joyce stay:

* Poland: Hotel Stary, Krakow – 1 night

* Germany: Hotel Berline-Mitte, Berlin – 1 night

* Brussels: Sofitel Brussels – 1 night

* London: Royal Horseguards Hotel – 1 night

People who don’t travel much think travel is fun. Travel is not fun, it is a pain in the butt. Checking into and out of hotels every day and stuck on planes is not a holiday. Don’t get me wrong – being in other countries can be great fun – if you have the time to actually do stuff when you are there. But look at Joyce’s itinerary – every day was travel.

But Mr Joyce gained some support from former foreign affairs minister Phil Goff, who said the costs weren’t unreasonable.

“I’ve never criticised a minister of foreign affairs or a minister of trade for travel costs, because if you’re doing your job you’re spending long hours flying, long hours at meetings and there’s no time for junkets in between.

Good on Goff for playing this fair.

During Mr Peters’ time as foreign minister, he spent more than $250,000 between June and September, 2006.

In that year his office was charged $230 for a bed cover that was burnt with a cigarette, although the money was later reimbursed.

And we’re still waiting for him to repay the $158,000.

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In brief

June 12th, 2013 at 2:51 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A select committee hearing has descended into acrimony after Labour MP Trevor Mallard appeared to threaten the job of a senior police officer.

Mallard abruptly left a select committee after an exchange of angry words with Police Minister Anne Tolley after he questioned the decision of Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush to speak at the funeral of former police officer Bruce Hutton.

Is it newsworthy anymore when Trevor Mallard storms out of the House or a select committee? He’s done it so often, it is probably more newsworthy when he doesn’t.

After Mallard attempted to question Bush on the issue Government committee members objected that his questions were out of order.

But Mallard hit back and appeared to threaten Bush’s job.

“We’re deciding whether or not to continue his salary, that’s what we’re deciding now,” he said.

Really. A select committee can approve the salary of an individual police officer?

Also of interest is this tweet from Hamish Rutherford:

David Shearer confirms he was in SkyCity corp.box after ABs test at Eden Park on Sat for “5 to 10 minutes” to say hello. No drinks or hospo.

So against Sky City making money from dirty pokies, but will pop into their corporate box.

And a great rejoinder from Steven Joyce:

I think he’s saying he didn’t inhale

Great sledge.

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Novopay to stay – for now

May 7th, 2013 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce has announced:

Minister Responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce today announced that Talent2 will continue to administer the school payroll – but that the long-term future of the system will stay under review.

“The decision to stay with Novopay at this point was made very carefully after a great deal of consideration and weighing up of all the risks,” Mr Joyce says.

“The improvements we have seen in delivering school pay from pay period to pay period and the progress to date in clearing bugs, means it wouldn’t be sensible to make a change at this point.  Making a change now would increase the work for payroll administrators in the short-term during the cut-over from where we stand today, not decrease it.

“Three out of the last four pay periods have had a reported error rate of less than 0.5 per cent – which we have been advised by our independent technical reviewers is a reasonable error rate for a stable system. However, that is not to say that we are out of the woods yet or endorsing the current state of the pay system.

The error rate for the last pay round was 0.26%, which is well below what the previous system even had.

“The only other realistic option at this point was to switch back to the old Datacom system and then upgrade again later to a new Datacom system.  That would mean substantial additional work and two further changes for school administrators.  We would do that if required, but it is not a step to be taken lightly.

“You can’t just switch a complex $4.4 billion a year payroll that pays around 90,000 people every fortnight without creating more issues – no matter which system you are using.

“A go or no-go decision had to be made at this point because the current Datacom backup proposal is time-sensitive, and has now reached the point where it will have to be re-worked for them to be able to assist.

Datacom have made it clear they remain ready to assist if they are required at any further stage. I appreciate that, and may call on them again at any time. I thank them for all their work and assistance to date.”

Mr Joyce says the focus for the next two months will continue to be on the Novopay system remediation in which progress will continue to be monitored on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

“Staff from the Ministry, Talent 2, and schools are working hard on the remediation.  I appreciate all their efforts as we work towards a business-as-usual state,” Mr Joyce says.

The next key milestones are the Novopay Ministerial Inquiry, which is due to be presented to the Government at the end of this month, and the review of progress in the Remediation Plan at the end of June.

The report of the inquiry was be very interesting I suspect.

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Greens don’t even know their own joint policy

April 18th, 2013 at 11:25 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce pointed out today:

Labour and the Greens have jumped the shark with a half-baked Soviet Union-style nationalisation “plan” for electricity in New Zealand, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

“This is truly wacky and desperate stuff obviously made up in the last minute in the Koru Lounge between comrades Norman and Shearer,” Mr Joyce says.

“Their crazy idea to have both a single national purchaser of electricity and to exempt Government-owned companies from both company tax and dividends would effectively demolish private investment in the electricity industry overnight. It would also raise real questions as to why any individual or company would want to invest in businesses in New Zealand.

I never thought we’d see parties in NZ advocating socialist nationalisation policies from decades ago. Stuck in a time warp.

Anyway Russel Norman responded:

Minister Joyce’s release on the Greens and Labour’s electricity announcement is full of basic inaccuracies: he says that NZ Power would exempt electricity companies from corporate tax and dividends, which is completely false and not backed by anything in the discussion document.

So is Russel correct that Joyce has it wrong? Let’s look at the press release from no less than David Shearer:

The Crown will forgo dividends and tax revenue from the power companies.

I say game and set to Joyce.

Bad enough to have a mad Soviet style policy. Even worse to not even knowing what is in it, when you are auditioning to be Finance Minister for a Labour-Greens-Mana Government.

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A parliamentary question

April 18th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

From Parliament:

2532 (2013). Hon Trevor Mallard to the Minister for Economic Development (19 Mar 2013): Has he or any predecessor expressed a lack of confidence or indicated a relationship breakdown with any staff of any department, agency or ministry for which he has responsibility to the staffer’s Chief Executive or their officials since 19 November 2008; if so, on how many occasions, is he aware of or has he received any reports on what occurred, and if so, what did occur?
Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development) replied: No. With regard to any predecessor in my portfolios, the only instances I am aware of relate to comments made by Hon Trevor Mallard, describing an official as incompetent.
That old saying about throwing stones in glasshouses.
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Novopay assistance

March 19th, 2013 at 1:09 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce has announced assistance for schools:

The $6 million package will be allocated as a one-off payment across the sector, calculated on a formula of $105 per Full-time Teaching Equivalents (FTTEs) plus $500 per school. For example:

  • A small school of 5 FTTEs will receive $1,025
  • A medium school of 20 FTTEs will receive $2,600
  • A large school of 120 FTTEs will receive $13,100.

If there is eventually a court battle between the Government and Talent 2, then this will be added to the disputed bill!

Joyce also updated on the system:

“In the last three fortnightly pay periods, the percentage of complaints and notifications received dropped from 2.2 per cent to 1.9 per cent to 1 per cent while at the same time the total number of people being paid increased from 74,373 to 84,822.

“Following Pay Period 26 this week, the next big challenge will be Pay Period 1, in which significant changes occur for the start of the new financial year, including adjustments to KiwiSaver and student loan repayment rates. These changes may introduce new issues. The Ministry is working closely with Talent2 to minimise any increases in error rate.

So it has got better, but may get worse with the new financial year.

Out of interest does anyone know what the error rate with Datacom was?

“In regards to bug fixes, 87 defects have been resolved as part of the remediation plan to date, with 143 scheduled for resolution in a release on 23 March and a further 46 currently scheduled for 20 April. 228 defects are being managed through business as usual processes and we are looking at a fourth release to deal with remaining defects and usability issues.

The total number of current defects is 526. These include 49 Category Two defects (very serious), 320 Category Three defects (serious), 115 Category Four defects (moderate), and 42 Category Five defects (cosmetic). It is planned that the number of Category Two defects will be reduced to 12 on completion of the second release this coming weekend.

I guess a category one defect is the system is offline!

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Joyce on Economic Development

January 7th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

Speaking to the Herald about economic development prospects that he believes will drive growth and job creation, Joyce said there were significant opportunities in forestry and wood processing.

While the opportunities to add value to the logs produced here rather than simply exporting unprocessed timber had been talked about for years, Joyce said Chinese interest in the industry made the prospect more likely.

The topic had been discussed during the recent visit by senior Chinese politician Liu Yandong.

“Their view is they have to do something about their electricity consumption so they’re looking to offshore effectively some of the processing cost of some of their industries. So they’re looking and saying well, maybe we should invest.

“New Zealand has renewable energy, maybe we should invest there. If it’s competitive it also reduces the amount of stuff we’re bringing into China.”

Sounds excellent. No doubt the xenophobes will oppose anything to do with China.

Joyce believes New Zealanders now “are pretty awake and pretty realistic” about economic development opportunities. That, he says, could prove an increasing problem for Labour and the Greens. “For a start the Labour Party is now scared of its shadow when it comes to oil and gas – it doesn’t know what to say. A year ago they were bashing the hell out of us for it. The Labour Party is embarrassed by the Greens always turning stuff down.”

Joyce says polls suggest public attitudes to development opportunities have moved so far in the past two years that a Labour and Greens coalition that continues to oppose them as strongly as they have will find itself offside with a significant proportion of voters at the next election.

“The punters will turn around in 2014 and say, we’re not that interested because you guys are actually anti-jobs.”

Can anyone name a commercial development opportunity they have not opposed?

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A tweeting Minister

December 8th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan at NZ Herald writes:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has taken a leaf out of Obama’s book by taking to Twitter to chew out high-tech entrepreneur Selwyn Pellett for raising hell over the Endace takeover.

Joyce’s Twitter exchange was more prosaic than the US President’s, but no less focused.

What got up Joyce’s nose was the implication that Pellett – who is a cherished Labour Party favourite – was having a bob each way on the issue du jour: whether Endace should pay back $11 million of Government R&D loans it received before it passes into 100 per cent foreign ownership, substantially enriching its founders.

Let’s say upfront that Pellett has been a thorn in the Government’s side.

I expect he will be on the Labour Party list. He is their biggest cheerleader on Twitter.

He is a spokesman for the Productive Economy Council and has kicked the Government’s shins hard over its plans to sell down its holdings in state-owned assets. So it’s no surprise that Joyce – who has been remarkably unrestrained recently – took the opportunity to have a slash back. …

The Twitter battle between Joyce and Pellett was great sport:

“So you collect taxpayer support, decide to sell shares, make lots of money & then moan about it in @nzherald #unbelievable … BTW R & D co-funding is about doing R&D in NZ, not supporting individuals. But happy 4 u 2 repay so we can fund others,” Joyce tweeted at Pellett.

Pellett tweeted back: “Mr Joyce, you should check all yr facts. Interesting a Minister would target an individual for speaking out on policy.”

It’s called hypocrisy. It is fine to target people for that.

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University funding

November 20th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Collins in NZ Herald reports:

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce told a Herald series on job/skill mismatches, which began yesterday, that he would direct the university to take more engineering and science students if it did not do so voluntarily in response to funding changes.

This year’s Budget lifted funding for engineering by $42 million, or 8.8 per cent, and for science by $17 million (2 per cent), while funding for all other subjects was frozen.

But Auckland vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon told the Herald that the increases were paid as a bulk fund and the university did not have to put it all into engineering and science.

Ummm. Do I have this right? The Government gives Auckland University some extra money for engineering and science (because we have skill shortages in those areas) and the university thinks it can just take the money, and spend it on the Arts Faculty???

A Pacific community leader has warned of a “Pasifika uprising” if the Government goes through with a threat to force Auckland University to take more engineering students, which may cause redundancies in other faculties.

Rev Uesifili UNasa, the university’s chaplain and head of Auckland Council’s Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel, said the move threatened Pacific participation in the university, which was concentrated in faculties such as arts and education.

“I’m very disturbed by the threat from minister Joyce. I can see a Pasifika uprising on this threat,” he said.

Wouldn’t the better thing be to encourage more Pacific students into science and egineering?

Another Pacific leader at the university, Dr Airini, head of the School of Critical Studies in Education, said more Pacific students needed to be recruited into engineering and science. “Mr Joyce is right. We do need to see that profile of Pasifika people in engineering. We also need to see that profile in education. It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and,” she said.

“This is actually about New Zealand’s workforce development. We need to see a Pasifika presence in all of these areas because Pasifika are actually a big part of our younger population that will be essential for driving ahead NZ Inc’s future.”

A much more sensible view.

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A humourous slap

August 15th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

From written questions:

Hon David Cunliffe to the Minister for Economic Development(01 Aug 2012): Has the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment deleted any tweets from members of the public which reference the Ministry’s official Twitter page; if so, why?

Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development) replied: I am advised that the Ministry has no ability to delete ‘tweets’ of members of the public, their Twitter accounts, or their Facebook pages. I am unaware of any legislation proposed by the Government which would give the Ministry this power. Should the Member wish to pursue this possibility, I suggest he does so by way of a Member’s Bill.
Heh.
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Joyce on attack

July 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports at the Herald:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce made a stinging attack today on Labour and the Greens accusing them of being “snake oil salesmen” and by pretending they could stop development and still have more jobs.

“It’s fairy tale stuff,” he told delegates to the National Party conference in Auckland.
They had to be called out for their “intellectual dishonesty”. …

Mr Joyce said the greatest risk for New Zealand was that it could “ankle-tap” itself by not developing because of small vocal minority who hated change and hated progress.

“It’s about the mitigation of the risk, it’s not about saying no. Every time you say no, it’s less jobs.”

He said Labour behaved different in Opposition to Government. It opposed the part sales of State owned enterprises but in Government had supported the privatisation of SOE subsidiaries which was only a subtle difference.

This is absolutely true. In fact Labour Ministers approved the sale of a mine from Solid Energy to the private sector.

It had also encouraged oil and gas exploration and celebrated the building of the Sky City casino.

“Those people are beneath contempt because they want to slow down New Zealand’s development for their own political ends.”

Good to see Ministers willing to hit back.

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TEU on PBRF

May 8th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by the Tertiary Education Union on the Performance Based Research Fund:

A recent report on the behaviour of New Zealand’s universities around research performance funding confirms a truism – you get what you reward. And when rewards for universities are based on their ability to generate research outputs, we should not be surprised at the lengths they will go to in order to be on top.

The Tertiary Education Commission confirmed last week that universities were gaming its performance research funding scheme (PBRF) to make sure they could get a higher ranking in the exercise than other universities. Universities have been changing people’s employment agreements, restructuring departments and people’s jobs and in some cases making teaching-focused academics redundant simply so that they can appear higher on a rankings ladder than other universities.

While institutions get no more tax-payer dollars from improving their rankings in the PBRF exercise, they are fighting for prestige – to be “New Zealand’s Leading University” or our “top ranked university for research quality”. This race for rankings was not the intent of the research performance exercise and the commission now believes the system warrants change.

But the commission faces a Herculean task in reforming PBRF while trying to remain true to the core principle of performance based research funding – that you can drive up research performance with the right competitive incentives.

One thing we have learned in recent years from universities is will take the most direct route to the cash and the rankings no matter what stands in their way (think Pamplona’s running of the bulls for the right mental image of universities pursuing performance funding).

A decade ago, when the incentive was ‘bums on seats’ tertiary institutions restructured courses and sucked students out of schools and other tertiary education providers onto their campuses. Some of the outcomes of this market model were positive – New Zealand has one of the highest tertiary education participation rates in the world. However, there were, as has been widely documented in the past, many perverse outcomes – from massive marketing budgets to the now infamous ‘twilight golf’.

So we identified the perverse outcomes of funding based on student numbers and declared the way forward was not about mass participation but about high-end research.

Student numbers were capped and a new competitive incentive introduced centred on published research ‘outputs’ (primarily peer reviewed articles in international journals written for the academic community). 

The aim was to calculate an aggregate research performance score for each institution in order to allocate them funding commensurate with their overall research performance.

TEU has no problem with rewarding excellence in our institutions, but research outputs are only one part of the work of tertiary education staff – academics also are responsible for teaching, administrative tasks, engaging in public meetings to share their knowledge, and so on.

Yet the lure of being ranked number one has meant universities have punished award-winning teachers; asked academics to shift their focus from community research to peer reviewed journals; and questioned the future of academics who perform vital administrative roles, because this takes time away from writing journal articles.

So how do we stop universities from narrowing the role of an academic down to ‘research’, when that is what is what the government rewards?

TEC has proposed changing the way the ‘rankings’ are put together, by only calculating the average quality score of tertiary institutions based on those staff who actually receive one of the quality scores (As, Bs, and Cs) and excluding those who (for a whole host of good reasons) don’t even reach the bar in this narrow performance measure.

This move will not help students who have lost their favourite university teacher, departments who have lost great administrative academics, or communities who couldn’t find an academic expert to attend a public meeting because they are all too busy writing journal articles.

It is a warranted action and will reinforce what the PBRF exercise was about and show institutions they should ‘play by the rules of the game’ with integrity. After all the rules are explicit: PBRF scores are not to be used for hiring and firing academics; not to be used for promotions or performance management. What PBRF aggregate scores are for is to provide an auditing and accountability tool that can help the government dish out the dollars ($1.6 billion over six years) to institutions.

However, changing the rules for calculating the average scores of universities is only a stopgap measure. What the latest report from the commission highlights are fundamental problems with designing performance measures in the tertiary education system. This means a much bigger debate is needed: how do we get the best out of our tertiary education staff?

TEU often argues that the evidence shows performance incentives do not work – you need only look at the mostly incentive-based packages of today’s CEOs to see that any chief executive not worth his or her salt is still clever enough to rort the system and generate an exponentially increasing take home pay. And the creative industries – such as major companies in Silicon Valley – are again realising that giving workers greater autonomy (rather than strict line-management) is the way to get great work from staff. Our worry is that the government sees the perverse outcomes of auditing measures like PBRF but thinks this can be solved by just adding in more performance incentives.

So instead of rethinking whether performance measures work in the tertiary sector, the government has set up a performance exercise looking at student retention and completion. For tertiary institutions the quickest route to achieving in this exercise is making sure students pass their courses. The simplest way to ensure students pass is to put pressure on academics to elevate grades (and in a few isolated cases this is already beginning to happen in a range of institutions across New Zealand).

Should we just sit back and hope that gaming is not so accepted by our tertiary providers, and that they will not pervert good credentialing (the awarding of qualifications) or research performance exercises just to be ranked number 1? Or should we review whether performance based funds really help us get the best out of tertiary education sector?

Only the commission and the government can decide where we head next, but to us it seems clear – the report into PBRF gaming shows it is time to sit down and talk about how we protect the reputation of our tertiary education sector and ensure that we are getting a well-rounded set of outcomes from universities. 

Dr Sandra Grey
TEU National President

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce also said:

But he has now revealed further reforms are planned for universities, including a review of the councils and a separate review of a the controversial Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF). …

Joyce, meanwhile, said funding for engineering and the physical sciences would get a boost in the Budget.

Research would also get a boost, though a modest increase in funding to the controversial Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF).

The PBRF, set up under the previous Labour administration, has been the subject of allegations of rorting by universities hiding away their least productive researchers to maximise their share of the funding. There has also been growing concern about the amount of time wasted by academics tinkering with their PBRF portfolios.

While the PBRF had been ”broadly successful,” Joyce said there were problems which would be addressed in a review this year.

“Frustrating gamesmanship” needed to be addressed and the Government was also keen to look at introducing incentives for the commercial success of research.

”You make it [PBRF] all about [publishing] papers, so if somebody steps out of the system for a year to go and work on a commercial project somewhere, does that damage their PBRF score so that they can’t contribute to what the university is being asked to contribute to?” Joyce said.

There may be a way to introduce incentives to the PBRF process for commercialising research, he said.

”You’ve got to be careful because obviously, it’s fine in engineering and economics and science and things but it’s a little bit harder in humanities.”

So further change looks likely, but whether there will be agreement on what it should be is another matter.

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“You can’t” carries a cost

February 7th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An excellent op ed by Steven Joyce in the Herald today:

Most of us agree that for New Zealand to be successful longer term, we need more and higher-paying jobs. Jobs provide the incomes that people use to help their families get ahead. Jobs give people the income to pay taxes for the health and education services we value, and well-paying jobs are what keep more of our people making their lives in this country – and that keeps families together.

So we largely agree on the what and the why, but often the consensus unravels a bit when we get to the how. This is a little surprising because in fact the how is not that hard.

Jobs of the long-term, sustainable kind depend on businesses that provide something that people value. That is, something unique, or something of quality at a lower price than their competitors.

There is no other effective way to create long-term sustainable jobs.

And in turn those businesses depend on six key things:

  1. ideas and innovation to create the business (entrepreneurs and ideas people)
  2. money to build the business (capital)
  3. access to raw materials (resources)
  4. skilled people to work in the business
  5. the public infrastructure which the business depends on (power, broadband, transport) and, 
  6. most importantly, customers who want to buy the product.

So if we want more jobs, then we need to look at how to provide more capital, have better access to resources, a more skilled workforce, and good public infrastructure.

We need an environment that is encouraging to entrepreneurs and ideas people. We need to ensure we make resources available for businesses to use. We need stronger and more internationally integrated capital markets that provide money for investment. We need to ensure our people have the right skills. And we need to remember that we have a small domestic market, so our businesses will need to access world markets a lot earlier than similar businesses in countries located in larger world populations.

That doesn’t mean handouts. It just means removing more of the roadblocks that stop people from doing things.

And that’s when the problems start to arrive. The people who say “we want jobs” but then in the next breath say “but you can’t do that … you can’t build that there … you can’t expand that … you can’t explore for that there … you can’t live here … you can’t invest in property here – you just can’t do that!”

And very quickly we start limiting our options. Through the 2000s, as a country, we progressively boxed ourselves in more and more to depend on fewer and fewer industries based on what the “can’ts” said. At the end of it the government of the day was pretty much down to talking only about two of the ingredients – skills training and subsidising entrepreneurs that don’t use resources (the so-called clean-tech sector) – as the bits the “can’ts” were most comfortable with. The rest was off the table.

That attitude made it much harder to pay our way in the world and, as a result, we went into recession before the rest of the world in early 2008.

I am hoping National in their second term will stand up to the “You can’t brigade” and give us more meaningful RMA reform amongst other things.

We live in a world increasingly without borders – at least not as our grandparents knew them. People these days can base their skills, their capital and their ideas just about anywhere. They don’t have to be in New Zealand.

So when we think about the “you can’ts” we need to think about the mobility of people and money. Each time we say “you can’t” carries a cost. That doesn’t mean we should always say “yes”, but we do need to carefully weigh up the consequences of saying no.

And we should learn to stop listening to people who in the one breath chant “more jobs, more jobs” and then in the next breath say “but don’t do that, or that, or that”.

Hear hear.

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Joyce on foreign investment

February 3rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Great to see a Minister sticking up for foreign investment. The Herald reports:

Not enough New Zealanders appreciate the benefits of foreign investment and economic growth, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

The reaction of too many people was “you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t do the other thing”, he said, with little thought to the impact it had on potential jobs.

“The same people tend to turn around and demand more jobs one minute and then declare that they don’t want to see any things over here happen.”

Exactly.

Mr Joyce said that if people wanted more job growth, they had to take a more positive attitude to investment in the New Zealand environment, especially given the mobility of people and the mobility of capital. …

Economic growth required the use of capital, resources, skilled labour, infrastructure, innovation and a market.

“So all those things have to be managed. It’s not a case of carte blanche but every time you say ‘I don’t want that’ that shuts off another opportunity.”

Too many people see foreign investment as bad, or at best a necessary evil.

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The train blame game

September 12th, 2011 at 4:54 pm by David Farrar

At Stuff I blog on the train blame game.

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Caption Contest

August 29th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

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