The Auckland Council Youth Panel

September 19th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting press release from Joseph Bergin:

A member of the youth panel set up by Auckland Council is speaking out about wasteful spending and the concerning direction the panel is heading in.

This comes as a report is due out from the Auckland Council today which recommends local boards adopt a “youth board model” that could cost the Auckland ratepayer upwards of $330,000, this on top of a further $90,000 revealed to have been wasted by the current panel earlier this week.

I am a fan of youth involvement in politics, and I think it is a good idea that the Auckland Council has a youth panel.

However recommending that each local board also has a youth panel at a cost of $330,000 is tokenism gone wrong. The issues for young people will not differ that greatly from board area to board area.

The panel came under fire this week on social media following the release of an Official Information request by the New Zealand Young Nationals revealing that almost $90,000.00 was being spent by the current Foundation Youth Advisory Panel, on taxi rides, phone top ups, petrol reimbursements, flights and food for panel members.

I think the youth board would be best advised to provide some useful outputs for its funding, rather than just trying to clone itself 20 times over.

Editorials 17 March 2010

March 17th, 2010 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

The Herald is not a fan of money for the All Whites:

John Key said the money given to New Zealand Football would help it capitalise on the All Whites’ qualification for the World Cup finals and promote the game domestically.

More specifically, he mentioned the hiring of a temporary media manager, the revamping of the NZF’s website, a series of soccer fun days, and the identification and training of talented 17 and 18-year-olds.

None of this bears a skerrick of analysis, not least because NZF will receive a $10 million windfall payment from Fifa, the game’s governing body because of thanks to the All Whites’ qualification for the finals.

That will be supplemented by the host of sponsorship opportunities opened by New Zealand’s second appearance on football’s biggest stage. It also follows close on the heels of a US$1 million ($1.4 million) payout from Fifa for the All Whites’ participation in last year’s Confederations Cup. In sum, that money has put NZF’s previously shaky finances on an even keel.

Have to say I agree more with the Herald.

The Press looks Trans-Tasman:

Although former deputy prime minister Sir Don McKinnon has said that at some point a merger is inevitable, current Prime Minister John Key says the debate is pointless, as a merger is simply not going to happen.

Clearly, opposition to New Zealand losing its status and identity as an independent sovereign nation would be a formidable barrier to merging with Australia in the short to medium term.

It is more likely that this prospect will be seriously debated when both nations consider whether to move from being constitutional monarchies to republics – and there appears no huge groundswell for this to occur in the near future in either country.

In the meantime, the priority should be continued efforts to harmonise the two economies, including further developments that will bring a common border, a common currency and more consistency in our tax systems. On the latter front, there could, of course, be developments in this year’s New Zealand Budget.

I commented on Radio NZ that I might support NZ joining Australia, if each of our islands could e recognised as a state. This would allow us to gain control of the Australian Senate 🙂

The Dom Post opposes funding elderly daytrippers:

By all accounts the SuperGold Card has been a godsend for the elderly. Pensioners who have not ventured far from their homes for years are using the free public transport component of the card to visit family and friends and generally get out and about.

The card has proved particularly attractive to elderly residents of Auckland’s Waiheke Island and their contemporaries in Auckland who fancy a harbour cruise. Pensioners, or rather the Government on their behalf, spent $2 million on Waiheke Island ferry travel in a 12-month period. That’s 11 per cent of the $18m spent on the scheme in total.

Undoubtedly the scheme has been good for the elderly, not to mention Fullers, the ferry company that operates the Waiheke service. It is effectively receiving a $2m subsidy from the Government for services that were already running.

The transport operators have been the real beneficiaries. Because it is for off peak travel only, it means that they have merely soaked up unused capacity, and not led to any extra services.

In other words, the transport operators are getting $18 million a year for providing the same services at much the same cost. The subsidy level of 75% is ridiculously generous, and I can only presume that whomever negotiated it, also negotiated the KiwiRail sale.

However, there is a question to be asked about whether the Government should be subsidising the discretionary travel of elderly daytrippers while it is rationing healthcare, stinting on teacher pay and putting the squeeze on Government departments.

Of course not. It’s obscene we spend $2 million a year on the wealthiest elderly people in Auckland to go to and from Waiheke etc. But once a subsidy is in place, it is politically lethal to remove it.

Quotable Value puts the median value of a three-bedroom house on Waiheke Island at $650,000. Just because the owner of such a home wishes eventually to pass that property on mortgage-free to his or her heirs is not a reason for a Porirua mum, living in rented accommodation and working nights to put food on the table for her children, to subsidise the pensioner’s discretionary travel.

The Government has aptly read the political winds. Working New Zealanders and their children are the losers.


The ODT looks at youth offending:

While the 156 offences involving shoplifting might be considered nothing out of the ordinary, what should the community think of the nine assaults with a weapon, the single instance of threatening to kill, the five caught in possession of cannabis, the 34 arsonists? These all involved older – but still primary school-aged – children, and there were among them those with severe behavioural problems.

Yet efforts by the police youth services, schools, Child, Youth and Family and parents have led to a decrease in the number of very young offenders.

Ten years ago the numbers were twice those of the past year, which surely reflects the subsequent success of co-ordinated intervention.

Even so, it is a disturbing reflection of modern society that more than 700 young children were considered sufficiently delinquent to justify police apprehension for criminal offences.

Youth Unemployment

November 8th, 2009 at 2:34 pm by David Farrar

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern blogs her concern that the unemployment rate for under 20s has reached 25%. I share her concern.

I wonder if anyone else thinks that in hindsight maybe abolishing youth rates wasn’t the smartest move?

I know I only got some of my teenage employment because of youth rates. I started at $1.99 an hour.

The combination of ending youth rates and increasing the minimum wage to $12.50, has meant for some employers the cost of hiring teenagers has doubled.

Now when the economy was growing strongly, one could do these things without a big impact on youth employment. But this is the problem with so much of what Labour did – it was assumed businesses would always have money to burn.

The motivation behind increasing the minimum wage and abolishing youth rates was good. But as with most economic moves, there are almost always downsides to any initiative, and we are now seeing part of that.

The more expensive you force up the cost of labour, the less people in employment. Now that is not saying there should be no minimum wage, but a recognition that the more you increase it, the bigger the impact on jobs.


This is a graph of employment of both teenagers and 20 to 24 year olds. It is not seasonally adjusted so every December you see an increase due to holidays.

There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of jobs for under 20s, but relatively little for 20 to 24 year olds. From Sep 07 to Sep 09 the number of teenagers in employment fell 32,800 while for those aged 20 – 24, the fall was just 4,100.

Hence I think the abolishment of youth wages is a major factor. Otherwise you would expect the two age groups to be somewhat more aligned.

Incidentally the teenage unemployment rate has always been traditionally high. Only once in the HLFS history, has it been under 10% – in September 1987.

At risk youth

August 27th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government will fund 15,000 idle Auckland youngsters who could get up to mischief in the school holidays to go on one-week programmes this summer.

It will also fund up to 200 places for 10-day adventure camps that can be ordered by the Youth Court or a family group conference.

The plans are part of a suite of programmes announced by Prime Minister John Key yesterday in what he termed “a great mission” to ensure the potential of the next generation is released.

Chief Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft was later effusive in his praise of the Prime Minister’s move. “It is a clear signal that the Government means business to work with at-risk young people across the board.”

Some programmes announced yesterday are aimed at children from deprived homes, some at minor offenders and some at serious youth offenders.

I suspect the Government doesn’t mind this Judge’s comments on Government policy 🙂

Youth Opportunities Package

August 2nd, 2009 at 12:35 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced a $152 million package to fund almost 17,000 youth opportunities. Some of these are:

  • 4,000 6-month job placements for low-skilled young people with a $5,000 wage subsidy for employers
  • 3,000 placements for youth to work on community programmes for 30 hours a week, paid at minimum wage
  • 4,000 places in polytechs etc for 16 and 17 year olds not in schools, with no fees. This can be for stuff like literacy credits.
  • 2,500 places in Limited Service Volunteers courses on military-style 6-week training programmes
  • 1,600 summer scholarships for university students

The $152 million includes $32 million of 2009 Budget funding and $120 million from the 2009 – 2011 between budgets contingencies. This means no additional Government debt is incurred.

There are a lot of things I think the Government should not fund. But the economic (and human) return on this package could be significant if they increase the skills and employability of all those youth who are currently dropping out of school early, so I think it is a great wee package.