Missing the middle

Claire Trevett writes that Andrew Little has finally woken up to the need to appeal to the middle – then concentrates on the top and bottom in his budget speech.

Mixed messages in Little’s pre-Budget speech

Here’s a tip for Labour.

If your leader is about to deliver a speech on the plight of the homeless compared to the “wealthy few”, don’t kick it off with a tale about Bluff oysters.

Labour’s whip Chris Hipkins introduced Andrew Little for his pre-Budget speech by talking about the Bluff Oyster Festival Hipkins attended at the weekend.

Hipkins revealed he had bought three dozen oysters but left them in his hotel fridge.

A minute later Little took to the stage to deliver a triumphant piece of mixed messages.

Little sort of aimed at middle New Zealand, but it was more muddling than middling.

The centrepiece was a very convoluted piece of research about the proportion of economic growth returned to workers. Labour had concluded New Zealanders were getting $50 less a week than they would have been.

It was effectively meaningless beyond showing what clever clogs they were to have worked out such a thing. It also opened Little to questioning on how Labour would get that back into the pockets of those workers.

It seems Little has finally learned the group of people he needs to be talking to are middle New Zealand, but there are precious few signs he has discovered how to talk to them.

One of Little’s problems is thatr he may keep turning voters off, and if he ever discovers how to talk to them they may have given up listening. If they ever listened.

And those on the left listening and hoping for big things don’t want to help the middle, they want salvation delivered to the bottom and the far left

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33 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  23rd May 2016

    And those on the left listening and hoping for big things don’t want to help the middle, they want salvation delivered to the bottom and the far left

    Well it’s understandable they want salvation delivered to the bottom, there are plenty of people in low-paying, insecure jobs, sometimes working two, who really are on struggle street and whose living expenses are still increasing, even though the CPI showed only a only 0.5% increase in the last year.

    Reply
    • There are plenty in Middle NZ who are also scrapping by but don’t see Labour offering anything to them apart from a guilt trip and a tax hike.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  23rd May 2016

        Its hard belonging to the Middle New Zealand Tribe, Arty. No one really likes you, but its where the political action is.

        Reply
    • The Precariat need the help the most, and Bill English actually showed a bit of caring for them last budget. a tax reduction in the bottom bracket, with some more wealth taxes would go some way to evening things out.

      Reply
  2. Corky

     /  23rd May 2016

    “And those on the left listening and hoping for big things don’t want to help the middle, they want salvation delivered to the bottom and the far left”

    Maybe that’s where the disconnect starts. Many of the Labour political hierarchy are well heeled, leafy suburban living, latte loving cafe scene jockeys ( I love going to cafes on a Saturday morning. Talk about an education on middle class culture).

    Chris Hipkins oyster story sums my point up well. Geez, its a bit of a catch 22 situation. Labour has to find a way of whispering sweet nothings to the middle class, while simultaneously chucking the bottom dwellers at bit extra for more toilet paper and sausages

    Er, the problem with that is National has it sussed.

    Reply
  3. alloytoo

     /  23rd May 2016

    I bet Bill English began with a wry grin as Andry started and that just broadened and broadened as he carried on. Right now a few treasury officials are checking Labour’s figures and assuming Joyce hasn’t already debunked them on the back of an envelope, they had better be right, otherwise Andry will be made a (more?) laughing stock.

    Reply
  4. At the end of Little’s speech I contemplated the apparent facts and realised that 93% of NZers do not rate him as leader – why isn’t that 100%? Is it true that the Greens have more paid up members than Labour as is being claimed in some media? Should the top 10 percent of income earners pay more in tax than the more than 70% percent that they pay now? Does any one know how much income tax is paid by the bottom 40%? What about rates? Who pays the highest rates – the big house owners or State Tenants? Does the Housing Corporation pay a grant in lieu of rates? Does that come from rental income or does it come from the taxpayers?
    Thanks to the NZ Institute, I found this summary in answer to the question about the tax burden in NZ for families earning over $150,000 pa: “To answer that, we need to remember that this is not some random slice of New Zealand families. This is the 10% with the highest incomes. That slice of New Zealand also has a lot in common with the richest 10% in terms of net wealth. What do we know about them?
    The 10% of top income-earning families earn 30% of the income. (Estimate from Stats NZ’s Household Economic Survey 2010)
    The wealthiest 10% of New Zealand families control roughly 50-60% of the wealth (Estimates from New Zealand Institute’s The Wealth of a Nation 2004)
    This group earns 30% of the income, has 50% or more of the wealth, and pays 43% of the net tax. Is that an outrage?
    I don’t think so. Even under a libertarian flat tax regime, this group would pay 30% of the tax. And our country is not a bunch of flat tax libertarians. We have always embraced progressive taxation, and been willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.
    We have always known that when you help out people in need, other people pay more than their income share to fund it all.”
    Something perhaps Mr Little should think about? Have the lights gone out in Labour’s research unit – or was his speech further proof of a coming revolt within the party?

    Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  23rd May 2016

      “Have the lights gone out in Labour’s research unit – or was his speech further proof of a coming revolt within the party?”

      Revolt won’t fix anything. It would just replace one middle class wanker who knows what’s best for the rest of us, with another.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd May 2016

        Haven’t you just effectively described them all?

        Reply
        • Iceberg

           /  23rd May 2016

          Perhaps, but the middle class wankers on the left these days advocating for workers and the poor, wouldn’t know where to find one.

          We know this because Little couldn’t even find one on Bairds Rd.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  23rd May 2016

            It wasn’t his fault entirely. He may not have done all that much camping and just jumped out of the rickshaw & headed for the first tent the saw …

            Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd May 2016

      The lights are out somewhere, certainly.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  23rd May 2016

      One of New Zealand’s richest men says he effectively pays no tax.

      Sam Morgan, who created online auction website Trade Me in 1999 and sold it in 2006 for more than $700 million, has criticised the tax system as unfair to “working people”.

      Flush with tax-free cash from the sale of Trade Me, he said the system meant he effectively dodged the tax man. “I was lucky enough to sell my company in a country with no capital gains, so I paid no tax on the sale.

      “Now I’ve got no income effectively, because I don’t have a proper job, so the tax that I pay is minimal.

      “The tax I do pay, I throw money into my charitable foundation. I can’t touch that money, it is for charitable purposes. I pay basically no tax. And that’s not right, but what am I supposed to do?”Stuff.

      Reply
      • “I’ve got no income effectively”says Sam, well Sam can fix that if he wants. He can invest his money in dividend and interest bearing assets, have the RWT deducted at source and not employ a tax accountant to manage his tax burden down. He can also write cheques or direct credit IRD for nice large numbers, if he is so concerned about his lack of tax paying.

        Self righteous wealthy wan$ers babbling about “I am not taxed enough” have heaps of ways of giving money to central government if they want. But they would rather babble on about the injustice of it all and how everyone else should be paying more. Beware the chardonnay socialist want to tax everyone more and crying “think about the children” – they can always voluntarily pay tax on the earnings at high than state set levels if they want, but surprisingly they never seem to do so…..

        I pay around 29-30 cents in the dollar on income most years, plus the tax payments via ACC levies, GST, levies on petrol, rates [indirectly at the moment but still paid] plus various other hidden duties, levies and taxes sprinkled around the joint. I’m fronting my share

        The issue is not “Not enough Tax” is too much government spending and an economy that is not generating enough jobs that pay well. Talk about generating more quality jobs is where Labour can make inroads, not tax the rich pricks rhetoric constantly

        Reply
      • One of NZ’s richest does not pay any tax? Bullshit, unless he she or it is living overseas, he pays GST every day, rates, dividend tax, etc etc. Talk’s cheap, facts please!

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  23rd May 2016

          From context I think he means he pays no income tax, like most people have to.

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  23rd May 2016

          read it,he says he pays minimal tax,as do most seriously wealthy NZ’ers.The poor have no use for tax havens and accounting/legal device.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  23rd May 2016

            I noticed that Eleanor Catton said that she would be happy to pay 40% tax. Yeah, right. There are fairies at the bottom of MY garden.

            Reply
    • Blazer

       /  23rd May 2016

      this contention is fatally flawed…’93% of NZers do not rate him as leader –’!

      Reply
      • Umm, he has 7% in the leadership stakes according to the current polls, this may change. Guess which way?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  23rd May 2016

          ‘current polls’ do not reflect whether NZ’ers rate him as leader.The poll is a small sample with leading questions and cannot be relied on re ALL NZ’ers.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  23rd May 2016

            That really is scraping the bottom of the barrel-don’t you credit people with enough sense to see that if it was so ? No poll can ask everyone in NZ.

            Reply
  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  23rd May 2016

    My impression is that the lower and lower middle (and middle with families ? I can’t remember and can’t be bothered looking) pay iOystern tax ‘the square root of f#ck all at all.’

    The ones who seem to be hit are the mugs who don’t have children-like me living on a tiny income that is 1/3 of what it was when my husband was alive. I hope that it’s not a cold winter.

    Oysters-ick-wouldn’t eat them if they were free.

    Reply
  6. Kitty Catkin

     /  23rd May 2016

    I am still laughing at the rhetorical questions about state houses and rates.Well, I hope that they were. Either way, it’s the taxpayer paying for them. The dear Greens must think that everyone is green-the government isn’t paying for these houses, their repairs and rates, everyone who isn’t living in one is.

    There was a state house at the corner of my former street-nice family in it, who looked after it. The only thing that gave it away was the frequency with which things like painting were done, which the rest of us were pea-green with envy at. I forget how many times it was painted on the outside.

    I was driving with a friend through a small Waikato town where there were quite a few empty state houses-decent little houses that anyone could live in. A few were in need of doing up. Why aren’t the people who are complaining about Auckland rents moving into them ? The surroundings were as attractive as anyone could want, lots of reserves and trees.

    I have yet to hear the Greens suggesting that instead of building new houses, they would like to move ‘houses for removal’ instead and thus save money and materials-and time.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  23rd May 2016

      I’m not that up with the play on Auckland but if they move into those houses in Waikato how will they get on for getting to and from their jobs as cleaners in the Ak CBD or the BNZ call centre or Manukau MacDonalds franchises or the Auckland rest homes?

      And if the Greens can organise some house removals from there to Auckland, where are they gonna put them?

      Reply
      • Gezza – fair questions. For long term beneficiaries those houses in Waikato might be ideal though.

        Also consider the current Tamaki renewal project which will put in more houses on smaller sections – replacing lots of 50’s and 60’s built houses with modern designs and layouts. More housing but the Left particularly Mana, oppose it because those houses to be replaced are the tenants houses not the States… doesn’t matter granny is living alone in a 3 bedroom house alone and the kids are long gone so her need is gone and others are on waiting lists. No its her house and she shouldn’t have to move. A great demonstration of the lack of coherence in the lefts philosophies

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  23rd May 2016

          I understand your point, and it’s a valid one, but I also empathise with granny. To granny it’s often not just a house. It’s a home. She raised children there who’ve now left the nest but it’s still their place of refuge if they need it and where they stay when they return to visit her. Her husband passed away some years ago but the house is full of mementos & her fond memories of him. For many, he’s probably still there & she still talks to him. She’s lived most of her married life in that street, it’s her community, she’s plugged into it.

          It’s one thing to have, like me, the financial ability and desire to move, upsizing or downsizing, of your own volition, at the time and to a new location of your own choosing. Even when she does accept that she has to go, it’s not something she’s going to want to jump at, the instruction to move into a smaller place, maybe in a totally different street, in a different suburb, where she doesn’t know anyone.

          Reply
          • I understand that angle Gezza. Its a valid emotional standpoint. But it doesn’t fit with true socialism where need is the driver. She no longer has a genuine need for the property just a bourgeois sentimental attachment and is denying other genuine needs from being meet. Funny ah?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  23rd May 2016

              Hmm. True, as you say, there is no coherence in the left’s policies or philosophy, their angle is more a grab-bag of anything to beat the government over. But I don’t think we’ve ever had any “socialist” parties in the sense you’re talking about Dave. We’ve never had “pure” socialism here. What we’ve is social democracy – from old Labour and old (Holyoake/Muldoon) National, in the decades prior to the Lange/Douglas shock. Labour & the Greens aren’t socialists.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  23rd May 2016

              I was thinking of people in the Waikato-but many people do commute from here to Auckland because their housing costs are low enough to make this viable.

              If granny has three bedrooms for one person and other people need that house-which is not her own property, but the taxpayer’s-she must move out. I bet that granny would have taken a dim view of someone hogging it when SHE needed it for her own family. These are state houses, and there is no justification for someone living alone keeping a family out of a house because they have a sentimental attachment to the house which has two empty bedrooms that a family with four children could use.

              The fact that she likes to have people staying the night is not enough to let one person hog a house that a family badly needs. Her sentimental attachment is not a need, it’s a luxury. The family’s need is just that. Why should they live in a garage so that one old woman can have three bedrooms ? She can live in a pensioner flat, they can’t.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd May 2016

              Fair enough. Will you handle the eviction for us please Kitty?


              😎

    • Kitty, I am staggered that 4 readers did not rate your comments above positively. I won’t deign to apologise for them. I give you a golden uptick (unsolicited) which should balance the conversation. As a State House kid for 10 years (father was a Civil Servant), it was a great neighbourhood t grow up in, as everyone minded everyone else’s business errr took a lot of interest in one’s personal affairs I mean. However when the chips were down,they all mucked in and shared the disasters as well as the triumphs, which gave the community a heart. Sadly when the tide went out and urban life called, we saw the demise of a community, though I have to say that when we meet someone from that era, the feeling of comfortable friendship is normal as we catch up. I guess this why I “belong” to the Far North!

      Reply
  7. Marie Antoinette

     /  23rd May 2016

    LP Comms: Sire, the poor have no bread! They are starving!
    Hipkins: Don’t fuss! Let them eat oysters…

    Reply

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