The first and toughest job in policy making is determining the problem. My experience is ministers and bureaucrats look bewildered when they’re asked what problem they’re trying to fix. They then blurt meaningless claptrap.
So I shouldn’t be too hard on Labour in opposition having no idea what problem its Future of Work report is supposedly addressing. But it’s a troubling omission.
The closest it gets to a problem definition is Grant Robertson saying by way of introduction that the goal is “to allow New Zealanders to face an uncertain future with confidence.”
The problem by implication is that the future is “uncertain,” that New Zealanders are not facing that uncertainty “with confidence” and that here’s policy to fix that.
I am unaware of any crisis of confidence. On the whole it would seem we are pretty much looking forward to the future.
So what’s the problem? I have no idea. But I also can’t make either head or tail of much of the policy that Labour proposes.
Michael Cullen’s support of Andrew Little must have sounded a bit like a balloon deflating.
A former supporter of Grant Robertson, he is now backing Andrew Little.
Sir Michael Cullen has returned to the Labour fold after eight years of self-imposed exile as a Government appointee to NZ Post with a warning to the party’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson.
Sir Michael was at the Labour party conference over the weekend as a delegate.
Cullen said he had been wary of being actively involved while he was chair of NZ Post because it was a state-owned enterprise. However, his time had ended last Monday and he was now a free man.
Cullen had supported Grant Robertson in the last leadership campaign but said he was impressed with present Labour leader Andrew Little. “People are very happy we’ve got a stable, united caucus and remarkable lack of deep division.”
Robbo’s Tax is going down like a cup of cold sick.
Red Claire has even ripped it apart.
“The devil is in the detail,” a Labour adviser said of Labour’s proposal to impose a levy on workplaces which were not training New Zealand workers up.
Except, there is no detail other than slogans.
An hour later, Grant Robertson was indeed in a form of hell as he tortuously tried to explain how a policy which looked, smelt and quacked like an attempt to penalise companies for hiring migrant workers was not that at all.
The proposal had looked fairly obvious. It was in a section of the Future of Work report that spoke of “skilled immigration being used to compensate for our failure to train our own local workforce for the jobs that are available.”
The levy was to apply to companies in sectors with skills shortages which were therefore reliant on migrant labour.
Earlier, Labour leader Andrew Little had rattled off the number of work visas given out to semi-skilled workers and said it “didn’t make sense.” The examples he had used of businesses which might be affected had been construction, chefs and IT – all of which are heavily dependent on migrants.
Robertson also emphasised that the aim of it was to train up the New Zealand workforce, the young ones without jobs, education or training opportunities.
So it was a fair assumption the levy was aimed at promoting local workers over migrant workers.
Grant Robertson has never worked in the real world or held down a private sector job or even employed someone directly.
Yet, he thinks he has all the solutions for business and employers.
One solution is to tax the bejesus out of them if they aren’t “training” someone who is a Kiwi. Every small business out there is now afraid of Labour. Take my small business, for instance, I employ one person. I am not training anyone else. Do I get taxed?
There are many more questions, and after such a big annoucement, after two years work, you’d think labour has answers. They do not.
Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson has denied a proposed ‘training levy’ was a crackdown on the use of migrant labour or would disadvantage businesses for using migrant workers.
The proposal was included in Labour’s ‘The Future of Work’ programme as a solution to train the local New Zealand workforce and aimed at industries which relied on migrant workers because of skills shortages.
However, Robertson denied the levy was aimed at penalising the use of migrant workers instead of New Zealanders.
“We are levying businesses that are not doing their bit to train up a New Zealand work force. Immigration, skilled workers will always be part of the mix but we’ve got to do a better job of training New Zealanders.”
He said businesses would not have to pay the levy if they provided training to any workers – whether they were migrants or New Zealanders.
With just one Tweet Phil Twyford has signalled the undermining of Andrew Little as leader.
Just when the economy is going gang busters along come the unions with their bludging, grubby hands out.
The latest figures show gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.9 percent in the June quarter, taking annual growth to 3.6 percent.
Driven by housing, strong demand for exports and immigration, New Zealand now has the third highest growth rate in the OECD.
However, how much of the increased growth is getting through to workers?
ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie says any growth flows into the economy and eventually into wages.
“If we continue to see unemployment track down, wages will start to move up and people will start to get ahead.
“We’re seeing real wage growth at the moment of 1.5 percent, but I’m expecting that to grow to 2.5 percent over the next 24 months.”
However, critics say we’re relying on immigration and on a per person basis New Zealand’s hardly growing at all.
“The biggest disappointment is the fact that it’s driven by population growth rather than by increasing the quality of what we are doing. Our productivity growth is probably going backwards,” says CTU economist Bill Rosenberg.
Labour’s Grant Robertson says Uber’s minuscule tax payment in New Zealand is a sign it’s time the Government cracked down on multinational tax avoidance.
He says it’s a joke Uber paid just $9000 tax despite earning $1 million in revenue in New Zealand, and if it wants to operate here it should pay what others pay.
“That’s just not fair. I mean ordinary working people pay their taxes here every week. So should companies here, and the Government should crack down on those who don’t,” he says.
Audrey Young questions whether Labour can elect Grant Robertson as leader.
But even Labour has some way to go in terms of tolerance – it is no secret that despite Grant Robertson’s popularity among MPs and party activists as a leadership contender, his sexuality was a defining disqualification for some in the party.
The internal tension between a focus on so-called identity politics versus a focus on so-called traditional values of working people will continue until it gains the Government benches again.
So far the answer is no. He has lost two leadership battles, and has clearly stated he will not run for leader again. Read more »
Are Debt-to-income restrictions on mortgages vote winners?
Of course they’re not, and what’s the bet Farrar has been polling and focus grouping this.
Debt-to-income restrictions on mortgages are a long way off, even if the Reserve Bank decides it wants to introduce them, Parliament has been told.
Finance Minister Bill English was questioned about the restrictions today, after confirming last week that the Government and the Reserve Bank were discussing them.
“The Reserve Bank has yet to investigate whether the tool is workable, then it’s got to decide whether it wants to include it in the memorandum of understanding [with the Government], then it has to go out and consult everybody and work out how to apply it,” Mr English said.
Labour’s finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, asked Mr English about the potential impact of debt-to-income restrictions on first home buyers, but the minister said he wasn’t going to speculate on an issue the bank had just started working on. Read more »
It’s revealing that James Shaw has looked weak and sidelined in this Labour-Greens MOU. Shaw believes defeat is inevitable in 2017 and then the Greens will have to change strategy on the grounds of never having been part of government despite being in parliament since 1996. They will need to become more middling, and able to work with either side of politics.
But obviously the Greens have to believe something is on the table for them from yesterday’s deal. They have given up the ability to chase disaffected Labour votes at a time when Labour’s support looks like it is falling again, and they have given up finance. What do they gain in exchange?
Metiria Turei says the MOU helps to build a bloc that will get rid of National. One can debate whether it really will make a change of government more likely but even if you accept this MOU somehow makes the whole bigger than the parts, that still leaves out what the Greens specifically get out of it.
The other point Metiria has made publicly is that the Greens have been under pressure from their own members over their coalition positions. At the last election they claimed it was ‘highly unlikely’ they would work with National, as if they were in some way leaving the door open a smidgeon. In 2011 they said Labour was a ‘preferred but not exclusive’ partner, which was confusing because it implied National was a possibility but then everyone assumed the Greens had ruled National out. And after 2008 they went ahead and signed a (post-election) cooperation deal with National that delivered the cycleway and home insulation, before they withdrew from cooperation. Green activists believe those positions cost Labour votes (though maybe not the Greens), because it made an alternative government look less stable. But still – responding to pressure from activists doesn’t really win the Greens anything in exchange for giving up finance and affirming Little’s status as Opposition leader to whom they will need to defer. Read more »