NZ

Michael Cullen’s only legacy crumbles to dust

Cullen was generally regarded as a steady steward of the nation’s funds, although many who said so conveniently ignored the fact he did so during an economic boom time when he had no idea what to do with all the money coming out of the tax payer fountain.

Upon his departure, the purchase of KiwiRail at the blunt end of $2B was as cynical as it was an act of sabotage.

But all through this period, and until recently, people still thought kindly of him when talking about KiwiSaver.

That myth just fell apart too.

KiwiSaver tax credits cost more than $800 million a year but careful analysis by Treasury economists of the best data we have on household finances can find no evidence it has boosted the accumulation of wealth, a key objective of the scheme.

Research by David Law and Grant Scobie published by the Treasury examined data from Statistics New Zealand’s longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE).

Their first look at SoFIE found that between 2008 (the first “wave” of data after KiwiSaver was introduced in 2007) and 2010 (the last before it was discontinued) both members and non-members of KiwiSaver increased their savings, defined as net wealth or assets minus liabilities.

But non-members fared better than members, averaging an increase of $32,000 or twice that recorded by KiwiSaver members.

In English – people who avoided KiwiSaver and made their own arrangements are better off than the state-run semi-compulsory scheme that was supposed to save us (heh) from ourselves. Read more »

The Huddle at 1740

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It’s Monday and I’m on ZB with Larry Williams to do The Huddle with pinko attack blogger David Farrar

Our topics will be:

  • First up we’ve got the winners and losers in the Labour line up.
  • Then  moving on and the hand wringing goes on over Roger Sutton’s resignation.   Read more »

Patrick Gower on Andrew Little and today’s announcement

Not surprisingly, the Labour fanboi is excited as the new Labour leader has managed to make it through 3 pressers and 2 interviews.  Yes, that’s all it takes to call a winner.

Little has barely put a foot wrong in his short time as leader, and the conservative reshuffle announced is another example.

I’ve now watched Little get through three press conferences, two major interviews and a reshuffle with no black marks.

With the reshuffle, Little has shown considerable political skill as he goes about building the complex latticework of loyalty required to run the Labour caucus.

The reshuffle is what John Key would call an elegant solution.

I think it has the right mix of a good deputy, Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe in the right spots and an effective front and mid-bench.

If it wasn’t Monday, you would be forgiven for thinking it was Throwback Thursday, given he has chosen Annette King as his deputy.

King was of course on Team Grant and hardly screams next generation.

But I actually think King as deputy is a good call. Aunty Annie is a cross between Labour’s Mother Hen and a Courtney Place bouncer. She is highly effective in Parliament, incredibly loyal to Labour Inc, doesn’t want to roll him and will be a good mentor to Little now he has plonked her in his inner circle.

Due to the time of year, I think Little will get the benefit of a few months of performing under very low pressure.  This will lead to a false impression and sense of competence.  One thing that Paddy forgets is that it isn’t just a case of being a steady leader – his talent below him will continue to be the gifts that keep on giving.  Let’s see how he survives a few scandals.   Read more »

Business that needs to dump into a river to operate isn’t viable

Two stories today about Canterbury rivers:

Dry weather has seen South Canterbury’s rivers reach “exceptional” lows, with farmers shedding stock and irrigation restrictions in place.

Figures from Environment Canterbury’s monitoring sites indicated five rivers across the region were below half of their average flows for November.

The Orari River was flowing at a rate of 3.9 cubic metres per second (cumecs) at a monitoring site in the Orari Gorge, while it dried up completely while flowing across the plains in some places.

ECan’s surface water science manager Tim Davie said having the river dry up so early in the summer was “exceptional”, and concerned members of the public had begun asking about the region’s low river levels. The Temuka River was flowing at 1.2 cumecs, less than a quarter of its usual flow.

Opuha Water Limited chief executive Tony McCormick said the Opuha Dam was now 56 per cent full, and the dam could reach its half-full trigger point for irrigation restrictions by the end of the month.

Irrigation restrictions had not been required for dam users since October 2011, when they were required for just three days. McCormick said restrictions would undoubtedly last longer this year.

“It’s a very serious situation.”

And now for story number two:   Read more »

Random Impertinent Thoughts on Little Andy’s line up

 

 

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The Finance man has no private sector experience, or business experience for that matter.

The Justice spokeswomen doesn’t even have a law degree.

The small business spokeswomen has only ever run a bath, and never a business small or otherwise.

The spokeswomen for children doesn’t even have kids.

The last time the landlady was deputy leader there was a cone of silence about an incident in her house…will she front up over that this time around.

The sports spokesman has an uncanny habit of poo-fingering events he attends, and his cycling partners end up injured in smashes.

The Veterans Affairs spokesman’s last interaction with Veterans was chucking red paint at them and spitting in their faces. I doubt there is an RSA int eh country that wants him turning up.

The Maori Development spokeswoman did nothing for 18 years, is this the plan for Maori development?

… good luck Andrew.

Ding Dong, El Presidente’s gone

BREAKING

This morning the Building Services Contractors New Zealand (BSC for short) sent out an email to members announcing that El Presidente Patrick Lee-Lo has stepped down as National President.

You may recall that for some time WOBH has poured sunlight into the BSC. Many, including Rodney Hide, called it a cartel-like organisation for being party to an Principles Agreement that excluded businesses from government contracts.

National’s former Minister of Labour Simon Bridges did the right thing and axed this agreement, much to the horror of El Presidente who claimed it was part of some conspiracy to undermine workers’ rights.

According to the announcement sent to members (and forwarded to WOBH by a member of the fish-gang), CEO Lillian Small says Patrick Lee-Lo was a ‘vibrant President’. I’d agree with that.

Here’s the email.   Read more »

Another registered teacher in trouble

Labour and the teacher unions oppose charter schools because they say the lack of a requirement for teachers to be registered puts kids at risk.

Today yet another teacher is under investigation for untoward behaviour with students.

A female physical education teacher at an Auckland high school is on sick leave after she was accused of favouritism towards at least one teenage boy.

As a result of the allegations, the high school is remarking a year of internal NCEA grades for the teacher’s Year 13 class, prompting concern among parents and students some grades will go down.

The teacher, who the Herald has chosen not to name, has been on extended sick leave since the allegations surfaced last month.     Read more »

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Key finally takes a position on the Sutton debacle

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Iain Rennie – is he past his use-by date?

As I predicted on Friday, after a whole week of relative silence, John Key finally has an opinion after Curia’s been scouring the population to tell him what to think.

Mr Key told Radio New Zealand today the press conference was a “miscalculation”.

“There’s no way that he should have conducted a joint press conference with Mr Sutton.”

It give the impression that he was siding with Mr Sutton and it gave an unfair platform for Mr Sutton when the complainant was not given that same platform, Mr Key said. Read more »

National pressured into early release of draft Terror Bill after leaks to media

National is entering a new phase with it no longer able to set the timetable when it comes to when information is released.  Reacting to a second leak in less than a week, National’s released its draft policy over the weekend.   And none of the framing they would normally be able to do in the run-up of such a release has been able to be used, so everyone’s looking at it kinda raw

The changes were a response to the growing risk of radicalised fighters returning to New Zealand to carry out domestic attacks.

Mr Key said in a statement: “As I said earlier this month, New Zealand’s risk and threat profile is changing and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been successful in recruiting New Zealanders to its cause.”

New Zealand’s domestic threat level was raised from very low to low last month, meaning a terrorist attack was possible but not likely.

Government has drawn up a watchlist of between 30 and 40 people “of concern in the foreign fighter context”.

The legislation’s key changes were:

• Extending the period the Minister of Internal Affairs can cancel a passport to up to three years from the existing law’s 12 months.

• Giving the Minister of Internal Affairs the power to temporarily suspend passports for up to 10 working days in urgent cases.

• Allowing the NZ Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) to carry out video surveillance on private properties for the purpose of observing activities of security concern, modelled on the Police’s powers in the Search and Surveillance Act

• Allowing the NZSIS to conduct emergency surveillance for up to 48 hours prior to the issue of a warrant, with the approval of its Director and subject to the oversight of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security. Read more »

Bet our SAS wish they were there

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The Brits are among it – knocking off bad guys at a good clip.

SAS troops with sniper rifles and heavy machine guns have killed hundreds of Islamic State extremists in a series of deadly quad-bike ambushes inside Iraq, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Defence sources indicated last night that soldiers from the elite fighting unit have eliminated ‘up to eight terrorists per day’ in the daring raids, carried out during the past four weeks. Read more »

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