Farrar slams Little’s invented stats

David Farrar knows a thing or two about statistics, and a fair amount about politics. When he isn’t writing about arts, lifestyle and travel topics he dabbles in politics.

Today he slams Andrew Little’s made up stats from his pre-budget speech yesterday.

Stuff further reports:

Little said just 37 per cent of economic growth had gone into the pay packets of working families since National came to power – down from over 50 per cent under the previous Labour government. 

That meant the average family had lost out on more than $13,000 under the Government, and would miss out on $50 a week this year.

The use of this statistic is rather revealing, as to both how desperate and also how ill informed Labour are. Three things I’d note:  

  1. In all my years of politics I’ve never known a voter to talk about the proportion of economic growth that goes to wages. 99% of NZers don’t even know such a statistic exists lets alone give a flying f**k about it. I’m not sure I’ve even hear of it before. It reeks of desperation in trying to find an obscure economic statistic that they can campaign on. Voters care about jobs, wages, hospitals, schools and families – not the proportion of economic growth that goes to salaries. Wages have in fact risen twice as fast as inflation in the last seven years.
  2. Little seems to believe that the Government sits around the Cabinet table and determines what share of economic growth will go to wages. The Government does not create the economic growth and decide which sectors generate it and where. While policies have some small impact, the over whelming factor is decisions made by tens of thousands of businesses.
  3. Use of this statistic goes against Labour’s efforts to show they understand the modern economy. They are effectively railing against entrepreneurs and innovation. Why might a smaller share of economic growth by going to salaries. Well companies like Xero and Uber. They’re great for the economy (and customers) but according to Little they are robbing working NZers of $50 a week.

So Labour have managed to look desperate, ill informed and backwards in one speech. That’s quite an achievement.

All of this focus on salaries and wages seems to ignore all the stunning policy work that Grant Robertson has been doing for the Future of Work Commission he formed.

This grandstanding has all the hallmarks of hankering for a 1950s command and control style economy. I think they actually believe that there are real levers, pulleys and switches for the economy wired into the cabinet room atop the Beehive.

The funny thing here is that Labour opposes the TPPA, which would increase GDP, and economic growth and as a consequence further erode their made up statistic.


– Kiwiblog


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  • Lance Ralph

    I suspect in common with Andrew Little I lack any kind of economic intelligence. Having read this ‘statistic’ a haze of bafflement overcame me.
    It strikes me as meaningless sophistry.
    Surely the Labour party should be more interested in the proportion of economic growth that can increase the tax take, or is this a fallacy as well.

    • David Moore

      He’s using a statistic that only an abstract macro economist of the wonkiest sort would use and then put it at the forefront of a political campaign.

      The only thing most people will digest from his statements is the fact that people in the middle have got richer under this government.

      • Ruahine

        This piece of sophistry will likely have come from any one of the lefty University Commerce lecturers. I think I have read about this once in the good old Communist days when because the Govt controlled everything then money would be given out as required to the faithful masses. The only thing wrong with that was a hell of a lot more found its way to those controlling the giving out.

    • Dumrse

      I think they should focus on stuff that their members will be able to read and more importantly, be able to understand. This hocus pocus drivel won’t impress his union or his missing million.

  • Pluto

    Once he’s taxed the stuffing out of everyone to pay for his UBI there won’t be any incentive to work anyway. We’ll just turn off the lights, live off our 200 bucks each of printed money and hope for the best.

  • Oh Please

    Little’s is the sort of ignorant statement the already looney left will lap up, while those with any inclining of intelligence will ignore. Angry says he is talking to middle NZ, in reality he doesn’t even know what language they speak. I do so hope he stays around for another 18 months.

  • Wayne Hodge

    Little, I suspect sees Maduro in Venezuela as a role model. Look forward to shortages and endless harangues about how great our 5th world facilities are. Alternatively his ‘advisors’ are setting him up. Any thoughts?

    • Left Right Out

      I don’t think he is being set up… I believe they are all just that stupid

      • Miss McGerkinshaw

        I used to think he was being set up but am beginning to agree with you as surely if they were intelligent to set him up they must see what damage it is doing to the party?

  • Totara

    I think they actually believe that there are real levers, pulleys and switches for the economy wired into the cabinet room atop the Beehive.

    Actually, there is such a machine, but it is across the road from the Beehive in the Reserve Bank museum. It’s a total sham of course, and somewhere there is very embarrassing TVNZ news footage of Alan Bollard demonstrating it to an obviously unimpressed Ruth Richardson.

    Nevertheless, the fools in Labour might actually believe in such hocus-pokes and crave the day that they can get their sticky fingers on the levers, so here it is.


  • SAM51

    I suspect this was some lame attempt to make a bit of a hit on Key while he was in France at his daughters graduation. Little likes to have a few jabs whilst JK is away as he knows he won’t get too right back at him when Johns out of the country. Its pretty cowardly.

  • Toby

    Labour are in a field full of white doves shooting anything that moves and hoping they hit a duck.

    And when they don’t, they try dressing a dead dove up as a duck by sticking chicken feathers to it and hoping nobody notices.

  • Wheninrome

    I think Little believes if he keeps opening his mouth he will be seen as relevant, unfortunately all it does is confirm his irrelevance

  • Genevieve

    Little should steer clear of these obscure statistics. He’s starting to look like a standard alternate deviate :)

  • JustanObserver

    Somebody please tell Little Angry that unless he’s counting a show of hands for industrial action, numbers aren’t his strong suit.

  • Somnambulist

    I heard Robbo on the ZB news at 12 o’clock saying that Labour wouldn’t go into the election with a policy of bringing in a capital gains tax, but would review the policy once elected.

    Caveat emptor! Basically they know that this tax (which they’d love to apply to everyone) would be electoral poison, so they can’t be upfront and honest about bringing it. Until they’re in a position to do so, at which time they’ll slap it on.

    Labour’s policies across the board are now so out of step with mainstream New Zealand that I think we can expect more of this sort of subterfuge.

  • YankeeManu

    There is one point I’d like to take up with Farrar, ‘So Labour managed to look desperate, ill informed and backwards in one speech. That’s quite an achievement.” No it isn’t. Its been the norm since Little got the push to the top job. (By top job I mean the highest job any labour politician will rise to in the foreseeable future)

  • axeman

    Little is desperate to show he can foot it with Key. Unfortunately for Little, he might as well go and howl at the moon

  • Metricman

    Give me a real Dog and Pony show, they would probably poll better than the Andy and Grant show. At least the Pony would be useful and the Dog could look intelligent. Oh dear how sad.!