$100,000 per course graduate!

Radio NZ reports:

The Education Ministry spent nearly $3 million on one course that enrolled just 42 students and had 29 graduates over two years.

Annual funding of $4.5m for the Te Kawa Matakura course was axed in last month’s Budget, with the government citing consistent underspends and low enrolments.

The level 5 diploma in the knowledge and customs of indidual iwi had just two intakes of students in Te Tai Tokerau in 2020 and 2021.

This is staggering. They spent $100,000 per graduate for a level 5 diploma course!

The spending blowouts

A great graph from Eric Crampton and Bryce Wilkinson:

So the light blue line is the situation just before the 2017 election. Spending at 27% of GDP and forecast to stay between 26% and 28% until 2031. Labour and Greens promised to keep spending to under 30% of GDP.

Then came Grant Robertson’s well being budget. It saw spending rising to 29% of GDP and forecast to be between 28% and 29% until 2033. This is the reasonable sort of difference you might expect – a centre left government spend 1% to 2% more of GDP than a CR government.

Then Covid-19 hit. Spending rose to 33% of GDP, which was justified as a temporary measure with wage subsidies etc. But two years later it is at 34% of GDP, rather than back down to say 30%. This is where the Government just threw money at anything that moved.

The 2023 PREFU forecast spending still being 31.5% of GDP this year.

The 2024 Budget shows spending just 0.6% lower than PREFU for 2025. This is mainly because GDP is now forecast to be much lower. We won’t get back under 30% until 2027 (if fiscal discipline holds). So the only real way to fund extra spending will be findings savings elsewhere, or having the economy grow faster than projected. It won’t be until 2031 that we are at the level Grant Robertson projected in 2019.

A Kiwi success story

Radio NZ reports:

A science fair hot air balloon kit made by Mat from a coke can and a plastic bag is part of Zuru lore.

It was the first of their constructions, and they began making and selling more of them, eventually getting them into local shops.

In the early 2000s, Mat and Nick – dropping out of university where he was doing a law degree – decided to go all-in and moved to a remote part of Guangzhou, China, where they began manufacturing toys.

Anna followed a few years later. The siblings tell the story of doing it tough for several years – including sleeping under a table in the Hong Kong showroom – before they managed to get a break when Walmart took an interest.

100 years ago almost all the wealthy inherited their wealth. Today most billionaires become one through being entrepreneurs. They create something of value.

They now employ 5,000 staff and are trying to create an automated property construction factory for houses. I don’t begrudge them that they are worth $20 billion, I celebrate it. Their wealth is not at the expense of others – it is by providing things of value.

The left parties want to introduce an asset or wealth tax on anyone who gets too successful. Not content with taxing income, they want to redistribute assets also. But what do you think will happen if they ever succeed in NZ? I can tell you what – the Mowbrays will probably relocate somewhere and take all the income tax, company tax etc they pay with them.

EU election results

The provisional election results for the European Parliament are:

  • EPP, centre-right 184 (-3) seats
  • S&D, centre-left 139 (-9) seats
  • Renew Europe, centre 80 (-17) seats
  • ECR, right 73 (+11) seats
  • ID, far right 58 (-18) seats
  • Greens, left 52 (-15) seats
  • The Left, far left 36 (-4) seats
  • Independents 45 seats
  • Others 53 seats

You need 361 seats for a majority. The right had 301 and the left 227.

Overall the right groupings lost 10 seats and the left groupings 28 seats (total number fell with UK out).

Mob defunded

The Herald reports:

The Government will stop funding the controversial Mongrel Mob-led drug rehabilitation programme Kahukura.

Police Minister Mark Mitchell confirmed funding would not continue under the coalition Government, describing initial decisions by Labour to support the programme as “perverse”.

“We are not going to fund the Mongrel Mob to deliver programmes around meth when they are some of the biggest dealers in methamphetamine. It’s just perverse.”

Good. A reminder that it was Jacinda Ardern’s personal decision to fund the programme.

Holiday sense

Brooke van Velden writes:

“Workplaces that rely on part-time workers are particularly vulnerable to unexpected staffing shortages. To explore this issue further, the exposure draft set for consultation will include a proposed approach to pro-rating sick leave, to better reflect how much an employee works,” says Ms van Velden.

This is just common sense. Someone who works one day a week shouldn’t get the same sick leave entitlement as someone who works five days a week.

For example, the exposure draft will now include a change in how annual leave is provided, moving from an entitlement system to an accrual system.

“Shifting to an accrual system for annual leave entitlements is just common sense. While workers might not notice any change in their entitlements, from a payroll perspective this should make a huge difference. An accrual system should help avoid the complex calculations that regularly stump payroll software and should therefore reduce compliance costs for employers.

An accrual system is exactly the right way to do this. The current law requires calculations so difficult that no payroll system in NZ can actually calculate it correctly.

I presume the accrual system will be something along the lines of you get 8% of your earnings for a fortnight accrued to your annual leave account, and that can be used for future leave. Nice and simple.

NZ to continue to fund terrorism

This is incredibly depressing. The problems with UNRWA have been documented over at least a decade. Their schools promote hatred. Around 10% of their staff are Hamas. Numerous staff have taken part in terrorism. The so called independent inquiry was commissioned by UNRWA and was done by someone who was a former board member and champion of them.

HDPA is right

HDPA writes:

A big inquiry needs to be called into the allegations about the Māori Party misusing private data.

This can’t be left to a series of government departments to conduct small investigations into themselves.

I agree. As it is those very same agencies who made the decision to contract the organisations involved, the incentives are not good.

TPM has called for everything to be referred to the Police, but that is not the answer as what is alleged here doesn’t just involve potential crimes, but is far wider.

The possible options are:

  • The Privacy Commissioner launches an inquiry (but that limits it to privacy issues)
  • The Auditor-General launches an inquiry (but that limits it to the actions of agencies, and may not be able to look at data sharing by private organisations)
  • A Government inquiry. However this requires a Minister to initiate it, and as it involves another political party should only be done with their consent
  • A PSC inquiry. This can be launched by the Commissioner, and has some of the powers of a government inquiry (such as compelling witnesses) but can really only focus on the state actors.

The Government has now announced a PSC inquiry. This is good, but not sufficient. The Privacy Commissioner really needs to also do an inquiry, as only they can look into whether there is unauthorised data sharing between all the various entities in the Tamihere empire.

Speeding up consents is fascism!

The Post reports:

For [Robyn] Malcolm, yesterday’s stand “wasn’t all about the environment” – a phrase she assures supporters isn’t one she would use often – it was as much about protecting democracy.

“There’s a reason [consents] take time, it’s because it’s important and the hoops need to be jumped, and all the people who are involved to need to be consulted. The other way leads to fascism, and that’s terrifying to me,” she said.

The hysteria is amusing – speeding up consents is fascism.

Yet when Labour did the same thing in 2021, it was not fascism.

It took eight years for a wind farm in Wellington to be consented. That is just crazy.

But here we have an so called environmentalist arguing that it is more important to have hoops to be jumped, that consenting renewable energy projects.

Wokeness ratings for NZ businesses

I discovered through an article in The Post, that Family First has rated major NZ businesses on how woke they are.

Their ratings are:

Extreme Woke

  • Air NZ
  • ANZ
  • ASB
  • BNZ
  • Kiwibank
  • One.nz
  • Spark
  • Starbucks
  • The Warehouse

Woke

  • Cotton:on
  • Foodstuffs
  • Genesis
  • Kathmandu
  • McDonalds
  • Vector
  • Westpac
  • Woolworths
  • Z Energy

Woke Lite

  • 2Degrees
  • BP
  • Bunnings
  • Burger King
  • Coca Cola
  • Contact Energy
  • Jetstar
  • K Mart
  • Mercury
  • Meridian
  • Restaurant Brands
  • Rip Curl

Not Woke

  • Briscoes
  • Farmers
  • Gull NZ
  • Hellenstein Glasson
  • Harvey Norman
  • Just Jeans
  • Mitre 10
  • Mobil
  • SBS Bank
  • Stirling Sports

Seems to me the list can be useful to everyone – those who want to only shop at woke stores, and those who don’t want to! It may even help sales.

Personally I care about reliability, price and service far more. For example my speaking terms of engagement forbid customers from booking me to fly Jetstar. I’ll take woke Air NZ that arrives on time anyday!

I also bank with BNZ. Their mortgage offset facility has saved me tens of thousands of dollars, so sorry SBS Bank but not swapping.

Police referral the right thing

Stuff reports:

The Electoral Commission has referred New Plymouth MP David MacLeod to the police over his failure to report $178,394 of candidate donations.

The National MP’s original candidate return for the 2023 General Election was filed on February 13, 2024.

The total donations disclosed were $29,268 from seven separate donors.

On May 20, the Commission received an amended return, with the total donations disclosed in the amended return coming to $207,662 from 24 separate donors.

MacLeod said the error came about because he didn’t know he was meant to have filed his 2022 donations, thinking the returns only needed to include 2023 donations.

The MP said he had “never, ever” tried to hide donations and was “extremely disappointed” in himself for making the error.

It is no surprise this has been referred to the Police. In fact I would have been stunned if they had not.

I also expect that the Police will lay charges, as the return was clearly significantly incorrect.

However, unless there is evidence to contradict the statement that it was a genuine interpretation error, I would not expect the charges to be a corrupt practice (which requires intent), but merely an illegal practice.

Yes we need a men’s health strategy

Jehan Casinader writes:

“Men have it so easy,” we often hear. “What do they have to complain about?”

As it turns out, quite a bit. Kiwi men are three times more likely than women to die by suicide. We’re 20% more likely to die from heart disease. We’re twice as likely to be injured at work. Each year, 4000 men get prostate cancer, and around 700 die from it – similar to breast cancer.

It’s a bit risky to even mention these stats. When I posted them on LinkedIn, some were outraged that I’d compared health outcomes for men and women.

I blogged some of these disparities in 2018, and in health alone they were:

  • Seven times more likely to commit suicide
  • Six times more likely to be subject to a mental health compulsory treatment order
  • Seven times more likely to be a mental health special patient
  • 113% more likely to be a hazardous drinker
  • 67% more likely to drink drive
  • Twice as likely to be a user of hard drugs
  • 10% more likely to get cancer
  • 74% more likely to have coronary heart disease
  • 31% more likely to have a stroke
  • 270% more likely to have gout
  • 11% more likely to have diabetes
  • Ten times more likely to have HIV/AIDs
  • Four years shorter life expectancy
  • 24% more likely to be a smoker
  • 11% more likely to be obese
  • 28% more likely to have high blood pressure
  • 33% more likely to have high cholesterol
  • 46% more likely to have an intellectual disability
  • 22% more likely to be hearing impaired

Yet there is no strategy aimed at reducing these disparities.

Yes, “male privilege” is real – but it doesn’t prevent men from experiencing pain. In fact, New Zealand’s tough brand of masculinity is exactly what stops guys from asking for help. Some would rather battle on until they’re on death’s door before going to the doctor.

There are definitely areas in which men are privileged or advantaged. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the areas in which they are not, and in fact are disadvantaged.

Labour’s legacy keeps repeating

Both of the last two Labour Governments have basically done the same thing to the economy.

Cullen left NZ in recession when he left office (and it started before the GFC) and Robertson did the same also.

Cullen and Robertson massively increased the tax take through six and nine years of fiscal drag, where cumulative inflation pushed average tax rates up, and never provided relief against the annual tax increase.

Cullen and Robertson both increased government spending as a share of the economy. From 30.4% to 33.6% for Cullen and from 27.3% to what will be around 34% for Robertson.

Cullen left a structural deficit with projections of a decade of deficits before one would get back into surplus, and stop increasing debt.

Robertson left a structural deficit with projections (2024 Budget) that under Labour’s settings the country would run deficits until 2031 (and they started in 2021) so again a decade of deficits before surplus and reducing debt.

History really does repeat itself.

Where were the protesters three years ago?

The Herald reports:

Thousands of people are expected to protest against the Fast-track Approvals Billand other Government policies in Auckland on Saturday, with other demonstrations planned across the country.

Saturday afternoon’s March For Nature in Tāmaki Makaurau will see protesters march from Aotea Square down Queen St.

The organisers said they were expecting thousands of people to turn out for the protest against the fast-track legislation and what they called the coalition’s “general war on nature”.

Here’s the interesting thing. The FTAB is based on a law passed by Labour during Covid-19. That law set up almost the same process, except rather than have three Ministers involved there was just one – David Parker. Around 17 projects were consented by this process, and I doubt anyone can name one?

Of course it is only bad when a CR Government does it.

There are some differences. The bill as proposed as three Ministers as final decision makers rather than the Expert Panel. But that aspect is up for consideration by the select committee.

The growing and profitable Tamihere Empire

Have gone through the annual accounts of the Te Whãnau O Waipareira Trust Group (consists of two trusts and six companies). Here’s some key extracts:

IncomeSurplusNet AssetsAv senior salary
2020$56m$5m$49m$200k
2021$57m$7m$57m$260k
2022$73m$12m$69m$290k
2023$72m$16m$84m$511k

So from 2020 to 2023 income increased 29%. However the surplus increased 220%. The net assets grew by 71% and the average salary to top charitable executives increased 155%.

What is remarkable is that they are running a $16 million surplus/profit on turnover of $72 million. That’s a level of profitability many commercial businesses would love to achieve, let alone a charity.

Now good on them for being so profitable, so they can use their surplus to help more charitable causes. But it does make you wonder if the Government is getting value for money for its contracts, considering the huge level of surplus achieved.

Nonsense from the E-Safety Commissioner

Newshub reports:

Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said in a statement the regulator had decided to drop its legal action against X.

“Most Australians accept this kind of graphic material should not be on broadcast television, which begs an obvious question of why it should be allowed to be distributed freely and accessible online 24/7 to anyone, including children,” Grant said.

She said a major concern was the ease by which children were able to access the violent content on X.

So she justifies trying to impose a global ban on the documentary footage of the attack on the basis it was so easy for children to access it.

X had blocked Australian users from viewing the posts but refused to remove them globally on the grounds that one country’s rules should not control the internet.

But the regulator argued that geo-blocking Australians, the solution X offered, was ineffective because several users used virtual private networks that disguised their locations.

So the ease by which kids could access the content was that they had to:

  1. Try and access it and get blocked
  2. Know about VPNs
  3. Decide to download and install a VPN
  4. Configure the VPN to mask your location as being outside Australia
  5. Reboot the computer to activate the VPN
  6. Then access the content

Yes that really justifies a global ban.

Where did the Government get the law right and wrong with the Covid-19 response?

For those who are interested in public law, a very interesting paper by Dean Knight summarising the various court cases over the Covid-19 response. It details in which areas the Government won judicial reviews, and in which areas they lost. The TLDR version is:

  • Nationwide lockdown – legal
  • Statements by Ministers to stay home before health order was made – illegal
  • Refusal to allow applicants out of MIQ on compassionate grounds – illegal
  • gathering limits for churches – legal
  • MIQ – overall system ruled legal, but method of allocation ruled illegal
  • Refusal to allow self-isolation – illegal
  • Suspension of residency applications – illegal
  • Suspension of temporary visas for partners – legal
  • Approval of vaccine – interim order not granted but may have been found illegal so law changed to clarify (relates to process not substance)
  • Approval of paediatric vaccine – legal
  • Refusal to share vaccination data with Maori organisations – illegal
  • Vaccine mandates – most legal, but not Police, Defence Force and family carers

Hopefully we will not go through another pandemic anytime soon.

Conservatives may come third

The latest polling summary projects that the Conservatives could lose 310 of their 376 seats, leaving them just 66. Labour would win 485 and the Lib Dems 59.

Most polls were before Nigel Farage announced he will resume the Reform Party leadership and the D Day disaster. Unclear how much impact this may have, but if it does it is likely to impact the Conservatives with vote splitting in marginal seats.

If the polls do not improve, this will be their worst outcome in almost 200 years – since they were formed in 1834.

Three Strikes might have kept this victim alive

The Herald reports:

A recidivist offender who shot a small-time Auckland drug dealer while robbing him of his stash and recent gaming machine jackpot had been on electronically monitored post-prison release conditions at the time of the murder – but had cut off his tracking device.

That factor of Benjamin “Dekoy” Mcintosh’s murder in June 2022 was highlighted for the first time last week as prosecutors sought a lengthy non-parole period for Ethan Dane Dodds, who returned to the High Court at Auckland for sentencing.

Justice Graham Lang agreed that Section 104 of the Sentencing Act – calling for a non-parole period of at least 17 years in some of the most egregious murder cases, including ones that took place in the course of a robbery – had been met. But he also ultimately agreed with Dodds’ lawyer that imposing such a sentence would be “manifestly unjust” because the killing, while reckless, had not been planned or intended.

The 25-year-old was instead ordered to serve a life sentence with a minimum period of 12 years before he can begin to apply for parole.

So possibly out after 12 years. What is his background:

He noted a long list of prior convictions resulting in him having spent the majority of his life so far either in state care or prison. He has rarely spent more than three months at a time outside criminal justice facilities since the age of 11.

Now he is 25 so for 14 years he has constantly offended. But he just gets a series of short sentences so he gets out again and again and again, with the near inevitable killing that follows.

If there was a good three strikes regime, then the cycle of continual release and offending would be broken. He might still offend when out, but there would be far fewer victims.