Bill English

Bill English’s state housing reform is privatisation by stealth

Like an insidious slow rot, Bill English wants to get his hands on part of the $16B worth of cash currently locked into government-owned social housing stock.  This is one of the most under-the-radar National reforms that may have a substantial effect.  John Armstrong muses

Bill English’s masterplan to radically “reform” the Labour-initiated, octogenarian state housing scheme has all the hallmarks of being ideological for ideology’s sake.

The power combo of English and the Treasury is a pretty unstoppable force at any time. Implementing a policy in tune with its world view, the Treasury has been let off the leash, albeit briefly. It is just like the good old days before MMP and the advent of prime ministers obsessed with opinion polls and little else.

That the policy may yet be a complete dud does not seem to have penetrated the minds of those responsible for writing the relevant Cabinet papers. It is enough that the winner from the restructuring of “social housing” – the more anodyne term that National prefers to use – is the private sector.

I’m all for Government getting out of things they have no business being in.  But we are still to see a clear explanation how English is going to encourage the private sector to take on the least attractive and possibly loss-making tenants in a deal where they take all the risk.   Read more »

Beware the cult of personality, and the legacy they leave

Over the past few days I have received more than a few random emails about a couple of posts where I dared to criticise John Key. I have also had some personal approaches.

Apparently my audience will be affected negatively by criticising John Key. He also is the saviour of the National party and without him National would be stuffed.

Ignore the fact that he shamelessly used one of my private emails to conduct a personal hit on a friend, and ignore the fact that he thinks I should just accept it as “mo hard hard feelings”. I say ignore those because they have absolutely no bearing on my criticism of John Key.

I criticise him because I am alarmed that National is falling into the same traps that Helen Clark fell into.

The trap of creating a cult of personality.

Let me explain.

Labour’s current predicament has come about as a result of 15 years of a cult of personality in Helen Clark. Where she was the labour party and the Labour party was her. She purged the party of those who thought even a little differently. She populated caucus with sycophants, and she sacked good honest brokers in her office and replaced them with forelock tugging apparatchiks. She created the party in her image, the photoshopped one not the real you can break bottles on her face image.

When the public saw behind the photoshop they they recoiled. The party was destroyed in the 2008 election and she promptly departed for greener pastures.

But her legacy remains. Decidedly average MPs, middle manager types who were already promoted beyond their abilities. She left a caucus highly factionalised so there was no dominant faction unable to topple her. But the worst aspect was she left the party in the hands of hard left organisers who bizarrely think that the path to salvation is to be more hard left.

The funniest thing of all is there is still no one inside Labour who will ever hear a bad word said about Helen Clark.  Read more »

Circus? More like a party of clowns

Labour's leadership contest has become a Carnival of CLowns

Labour’s leadership contest has become a Carnival of Clowns

Vernon Small chokes down a bite of dead rat and writes about the state of his beloved Labour party that in his mind at least has become like a circus.

By rights the political debate should be focused on the Government’s handling of two things.

How does it meet its self- imposed need to do something alongside traditional allies and friends in Iraq and Syria without getting too deeply embroiled in the war against Islamic State?

And how will John Key make a dent in the number of children in poverty, given the Government’s pre-eminent focus on work as the best route out of poverty?

That begs the obvious question: what about the large number of working poor? And how out of tune was Bill English with his view that planning laws and local government rules were the main cause of poverty because they drive up house prices?

But then along came Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Shearer and the whole Labour three-ringed circus to demand its place in the limelight.

Read more »

Cartoon of the Day

Credit:  SonovaMin

Credit: SonovaMin

Public Health Activists Playing #Dirtypolitics [UPDATED]

Well, well, well, looks like all the crying from academic activists in the field of public health is just a big fat smokescreen.

They just don’t like anyone taking a look at what they’re really up to.

WOBH has highlighted over the years various troughers gouging the public just so they can travel the world to fancy conferences. It started with tobacco troughers, but has quickly spread to troughers looking at alcohol restrictions and obesity/fat taxes.

Now we see the real agenda of the public health activists. Global taxes on products they don’t like.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has an alarming blog UN Health Conference Bans Media Day After Kicking out Public and Then Passes Massive Global Tobacco Tax in Secret.

After booting the public from its meetings on Monday, the World Health Organization’s tobacco control convention ramped up its assault on transparency on Tuesday when the press was also banned from the Moscow conference.

Shortly after the media was removed from the convention, the United Nations’ health agency secretly passed the world’s first ever global tax – an outrageous scheme requiring nearly 180 countries to apply a minimum tax on tobacco products.

All indications were that the global tobacco tax would not pass until Thursday or Friday, if at all. Without the public and the media there to watch, delegates ratified the tax almost immediately.

When I, and a handful of other accredited journalists, showed up for a Tuesday morning press briefing, we were told that the briefing was cancelled and the press was no longer allowed to attend any convention events at all.

The rest of the convention, which cost world taxpayers nearly $20 million, will now take place in secret, behind closed doors. It’s a chilling and disturbing attack on the freedom of the press – especially given the impact decisions made at the convention will have on people throughout the world.

Read more »

Silly mistake by Key

John Key is supposed to be a smart man, but he often makes silly mistakes.

The latest mistake he has made was probably at the behest of Steven Joyce and Bill English and is an act of petulance that will hurt him.

The caucus is already smarting about the promotion of 3 dead heads who have few friends in caucus ahead of other more capable ministerial prospects. With his nasty and un-necessary slight against Judith Collins he has just solidified that grumpiness.

Ex-Justice Minister Judith Collins is seething after she was delivered a humiliating snub by Prime Minister John Key, who has declined to recommend her for an official title.

Outgoing ministers are usually granted the right to use the honorific “The Honorable” for life, after a recommendation from the prime minister to the governor-general.

Last Wednesday, demoted courts minister Chester Borrows and retiring Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples were added to the ‘‘Roll of the Honourables.’’  But Collins – who resigned in August over the Dirty Politics furore – is missing from the list.

Collins was upset and angry to be given the news by Fairfax Media. ‘‘No-one has given me the decency to tell me that…I’m actually hurt and shocked.

‘‘Frankly, that you are the first person to tell me, I have to say, you could knock me down with a feather…It’s appalling.’’

Her fury was directed at Key: ‘‘If you are the person that is charged with telling me this then that says an awful lot about the person that should be doing it, and I am utterly disgusted.’’

Read more »

Corporate bludgers costing Kiwi households up to $800 per annum


Bludging is rampant in NZ society.

But it is corporate bludging that is most outrageous.

And it is costing us a pretty penny. The Taxpayers’ Union has released a new report into corporate welfare and bludging.

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched new a report, Monopoly Money, which examines the cost and case for New Zealand’s extensive corporate welfare programmes. The report follows recent comments by TradeMe founder Sam Morgan, who questioned the Government’s corporate welfare programme, despite having been involved in companies that have received grants in the past.

The report, which examines the cost of corporate welfare examines government spending since the 2007/2008 budget, shows:

  • Since National took office, corporate welfare has cost taxpayers $1-1.4 billion ($600 – $800 per household) per year
  • If corporate welfare was abolished, enough money would be saved to reduce the corporate tax rate from 28% to 22.5%
  • If applied to personal income tax rates, the saving would allow the 30% and 33% income tax rates to be lowered to 29%
  • Alternatively, the 10.5% rate (applicable to the first $14,000 of income) could be reduced to 7%.    Read more »

Central Government puts pressure on councils: make houses cheaper

It’s good that the first reaction to Bill English’s comments about housing affordability is to see Auckland Council squeal

Finance Minister Bill English’s suggestion that councils are increasing poverty though poor planning rules which drive housing costs higher has been labelled simplistic and deceptive by anti-poverty campaigners and town planners.

In another reiteration of the Government’s intention to overhaul the Resource Management Act, Mr English said planning rules under that legislation “are causing poverty” by driving up housing costs through higher land prices.

He said planning rules had until recently made it “pretty much illegal to build a house under half a million dollars in Auckland” and “our planning processes have probably done more to increase income inequality in New Zealand than most other policies”.

Acting Auckland Mayor Penny Hulse said it was the first time she had heard those criticisms from Mr English.

Planning rules that can include seeking permission of over a dozen IWI to build on land that’s twice the price of the house you  intend to build?   I think there is a lot of room for cheaper housing, and the problem is almost exclusively at the feet of local Councils.   Read more »

TVNZ now gets into Pimping the Poor


TVNZ have entered the race to find the most deserving poor person to pimp out in the search for ratings.

A homeless family struggling to find a place to live are criticising a Government move to get rid of more state houses.
The family have been desperately looking for a home for months now.
Finance Minister Bill English today blamed local councils for a shortage of houses.

Jason Howe, his partner and their two daughters are at their wits end, deep in debt and unable to get emergency housing.

“And then I heard last night that they want to sell all the houses. I don’t know what to do. So if they’re going to sell all the houses where are we going to go?” Mr Howe told ONE News, crying.

The builder broke his wrist in July. He has been on ACC ever since, slipping behind on their rent and car payments and now living in a motel.

“We’ve been on the waiting list for Housing Corp for five months now. And it shouldn’t be this way when my partner suffers, cancer, colon cancer and [is a] type one diabetic,” he said.

But the couple say Work and Income has told them they don’t qualify for emergency housing. They’re now on the waiting list for a state house.


For Jason Howe and his family, the options are grim.

“I’ve got no other choice but to sleep in my car,” he said.

If this couple is genuinely suffering then I feel sorry for them, however I have some questions.

– He supposedly broke his wrist in July which would have healed by now, were there complications? If not why is he not back working? He is on ACC the article says.

– He supposedly suffered a wrist injury but is pictured using a type of crutch, did he have another injury? If so why is it not mentioned?

– If he is going to have to live in a car how is he currently affording a motel? If he can afford a motel he could have serviced his rent supposedly.

– He is a builder, in Auckland they are in demand so he may have been on a decent wage, how would we know the article doesn’t say.

– ACC from memory pays 75 or 80 % of normal wage but I am not sure if that includes overtime but with two kids won’t he get Working for Families allowance?

– Given he has fallen behind in payments for his car is he really going to be sleeping in it?

I am sure readers will have a couple of questions of their own.



Sadly, Boag is the only one even close to correct.

The Herald on Sunday has a bunch of pundits and politicians prescribing what it is that Labour has to do about re-building.

Sadly, Michelle Boag is the only one even close to correct.

Labour’s 10-point plan to rebuild, in this order:

• Stop fighting each other.

Research: Find out what the voters think and stop trying to fit voters to your policies.

Fundraising: Find your most loyal business supporters and ask them to bankroll the plan.

Brand strategy: Using the research, get independent people to develop new branding, consider “New Labour”.    Read more »