Michael Cullen

Michael Cullen’s economic sabotage keeps on performing to plan

Labour MP Michael Cullen comments on his meeting with the SFO after the Privileges Committee, Parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, September 22, 2008. Credit:NZPA / Ross Setford

Labour MP Michael Cullen comments on his meeting with the SFO after the Privileges Committee, Parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, September 22, 2008. Credit:NZPA / Ross Setford

Troubled Government-owned rail operator Kiwirail may reveal whether it’s any closer to running without support when it reports on its 2015 results.

Kiwirail has struggled to meet income targets set in a 10-year, $1 billion turnaround plan and a public meeting today may give an idea of how big the gap is, as well as provide insights into the company’s direction.

It produced improved figures in its year-to-June figures, significantly up on 2013-14. But the Government said it expected to keep pouring $200 million a year into the business to keep it going.

Difficulties the rail operator face include possible shrinking income from major freight client Solid Energy, which is undergoing a selldown.

During May’s budget, Finance Minister Bill English warned the current level of support was not sustainable and KiwiRail had to improve its performance.

It was pure treason really.  How anyone could put the blight of Kiwirail on our economy just to burden an incoming National Party instead of doing what’s right for the country just shows the depths to which Labour can go when given any degree of control.

I think history won’t look kindly on Cullen.  It was petulant in the extreme.


– NZN, via 3 News

Shut KiwiRail down

Labour MP Michael Cullen comments on his meeting with the SFO after the Privileges Committee, Parliament, Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, September 22, 2008. Credit:NZPA / Ross Setford

Labour finance minister Michael Cullen’s final act of economic sabotage was to buy a failing, gutted and highly over-priced train set in the form of KiwiRail.   As taxpayers, we’ve pushed well over a billion dollars into it.   And the news is only getting worse.

Finance Minister Bill English says KiwiRail hasn’t been able to generate the levels of income it was supposed to as part of the 10-year, $1 billion plan to turn the business around.

“They’ve found it very difficult to reach targets for growing their business.”

While some of it is explainable, with weather-related infrastructure problems and issues with customers like Solid Energy, some of it means further work needs to be done. Read more »

Sir Michael Cullen accepts housing crisis is of Labour’s making

Sir Michael Cullen (boy that title must grate hard core Labourites) has shanked Andrew Little and Phil Twyford and smiled while he did it.

He must be embarrassed that his party is full of intellectual pygmies.

The last Labour government should have started collecting better data on who’s buying up Auckland property, says former deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen.

Sir Michael, who was a Labour minister of finance from 1999 to 2008, said it was good the country was going to have some better information soon when the National-led government begins collecting more data.

“It’s a pity we haven’t done that and I accept that probably the last Labour government should have done more in that regard,” he told Q+A today.

He said if a lot of people offshore were buying into the Auckland market, then that would be a factor in pushing prices up.

“Now, of course, if we were better able to address the supply issue of more houses, then that wouldn’t be quite so important, but in the current context of constrained supply, then that does become the important issue.”

Read more »

Grant Robertson as the next Michael Cullen?

After failing to win the Labour leadership contest last year, Mr Robertson reinvented himself to become a finance spokesman who could reach the standards set by former Labour finance guru Sir Michael Cullen.

Incidentally, Sir Michael is a supporter and mentor of Mr Robertson and, of course, both of them have Dunedin links. Sir Michael was the long-time MP for St Kilda and Dunedin South and Mr Robertson was born in St Kilda and educated in Dunedin.

In his first major speech before a business audience in Dunedin yesterday, Mr Robertson showed he was open to new ideas and suggestions. While criticising Prime Minister John Key and the Government for a hands-off approach to the economy, the creation of jobs and Auckland’s housing issues, the Wellington Central MP also started offering some hints of where Labour may look in future to gain support.

Labour needs to get Mr Robertson before as many business audiences as possible, as quickly as possible, as his message about regional support is sure to resonate well.

Read more »

Rat cunning from Amy Adams, Labour will be left staring at goats again

The government has appointed Sir Michael Cullen to head up the first review of New Zealand’s security and intelligence agencies.

A former Deputy Prime Minister and a respected lawyer are to lead the first regular review of New Zealand’s security and intelligence agencies, Acting Attorney-General Amy Adams announced today.

Ms Adams says she intends to appoint Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy to carry out the review.

“This will be an important and challenging review, and I’m pleased Sir Michael and Dame Patsy have agreed to lend their expertise to the task. They bring complementary skills and experience to the role. Sir Michael is a former member of the Intelligence and Security Committee and has knowledge of national security issues. Dame Patsy has extensive governance experience and legal expertise,” Ms Adams says.

Read more »

Rodney Hide: A Routine and Regular Abuse of Power

Guest Post

Annmarie Foidl

Annmarie Foidl

Three weeks ago my mates were summonsed by Senior Insolvency Officer Annmarie Foidl. We all say WT…? I tease them. I am not called.

They turned up as ordered and Deputy Official Assignee Deborah Coles had them swear an oath. They are interrogated by Private Investigator Dennis Parsons and his sidekick Katherine Kenealy, both from InDepth Forensics, Hamilton.

Parsons questioned my mates about my movements and my activities.

Bloody Hell!

I rang Parsons. Kenealy answered and hung up.

I emailed and left messages for chief Official Assignee Mandy McDonald. I heard nothing back. Read more »

Brilliant for the World – tragic for the Left/Socialism

Bill Gates has published his annual letter.

In it he states:

The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s.


But we think the next 15 years will see major breakthroughs for most people in poor countries. They will be living longer and in better health. They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food, and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people.

The rich world will keep getting exciting new advances too, but the improvements in the lives of the poor will be far more fundamental — the basics of a healthy, productive life. It’s great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super hi-resolution screens. It’s even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren’t going to die.

Read more »

Hate to admit it: Labour and Greens are right about New Zealand’s inequality


There you are.

OECD data.

Hard facts.  Can’t escape them.   Read more »

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 »

Cullen coached Cunliffe

I called the Leaders debate a marginal win for David Cunliffe.  Certainly, the TVNZ results weren’t representative of how the debate unfolded.   Key was over prepared.  He was driving hard to get get the messages out, and instead of being relaxed and showing us John Key, he appeared forced.

I bet the hand in his pocket was a fist most of the time.

But it turns out that John Key wasn’t just debating David Cunliffe

He spent much of his career taunting National’s front bench, famously dismissing John Key as a “rich prick” and developing a reputation as the sharpest politician of his generation.

So Sir Michael Cullen can scarcely have imagined he would later play the role of Key, charged with winding up and unsettling Labour’s leader in a hostile debate.

While critics are split on the outcome of Thursday night’s TVNZ leaders’ debate, most seemed surprised at how polished David Cunliffe was.

This was no accident. Labour viewed the importance of the first televised debate as second only to election day. It had half a million viewers, most seeing Cunliffe on an equal footing with the prime minister for the first time. Read more »