Politician scores for 2018

It’s that time of year when political journalists rate the politicians on their performances.

Tracy Watkins: After a huge year in politics, one politician stands out

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern 9.5

I think that’s very generous. Ardern has done well at some things – especially her public performances and her rapport with journalists – but despite Watykins’ gushing, I think Ardern still has a lot to prove. As has her Government. That it didn’t turn to custard in it’s first year is an achievement, but just. I’d give Ardern a 7.5 but she will need to sort out quite a bit next year.

  • Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters 8.5

Also generous. Peters did an adequate job when standing in as Acting PM, and hasn’t dragged the Government down – yet. But he has also been smarmy, cantankerous and cranky at times. I think he deserves a pass mark but little more.

  • Finance Minister Grant Robertson 8.5

Helped substantially by a healthy economy he inherited Robertson has done pretty well so far so 8.5 is deserved.

  • Deputy Labour Leader Kelvin Davis 5.0

It’s true that Davis has been terrible as a deputy leader, but he was plonked there and although obviously a fish out of water he has been left in that position. It just doesn’t suit him.  But he has been doing a lot of good work out of the spotlight, in particularly he has helped prison numbers drop by 10%, averting a crisis. He seems to work well doing hard yards rather than floozing around with PR and the press. I’d give him a 7.5 for the parts of his job that matter.

  • Trade Minister David Parker 8.0

Parker seems to have done well in Trade – in particular, he switched Labour from opposed to ratifying the TPPA with barely a whimper from protesters who were going ballistic when the National Government nearly got it over the line. A rare commodity in Cabinet – experience.

  • Housing Minister Phil Twyford 6.5

He is also doing Transport. In major roles he is a big risk for Labour, and 6.5 seems ridiculous given Twyford looks like a dipstick out of his depth far too often.

  • Justice Minister Andrew Little 7.0

Little made some mistakes but has learnt from them, and generally seems to be doing a good job, including working towards some promising looking reforms.

  • Climate Change Minister James Shaw 7.0

It’s hard to know how well Shaw has been doing on Climate Change. He has been largely invisible. His year may be judged better after the outcome of the current COP24 climate conference in Poland is known. We are still lacking clarity on what his energy alternatives will look like in practice – phasing out fossil fuels as Shaw proposes leaves a big hole to fill, and that will need more than idealistic dreams. Shaw has also given little priority to leadership of the Greens, and it shows.  His party looks like two parts now, with three Ministers toiling away while the rest of the MPs still acting like they are Opposition activists still. I’d give him a 6.0 but he needs to start showing results.

  • National Leader Simon Bridges 6.5

Generous. He has had internal party problems (Jami-lee Ross in particular). And he continues to fail to impress with his presentation – more cringe than charisma. And he has made some poor policy and attack decisions. I’d give him a 5 for surviving as leader but he has a lot to learn and a lot of improvements to make if he is to succeed.

  • Deputy Paula Bennett 6.5

I’m not sure what Bennett has done apart from transform her physical appearance. I haven’t seen enough of actual political achievements to think of an appropriate number.

  • Finance spokeswoman Amy Adams 6.0

Probably a fair score, competent but unremarkable. She has a difficult job criticising the Government on finance with the economy going well.

  • Housing spokeswoman Judith Collins 8.0

Really? Collins works with media and social media well, but she got nowhere near a serious challenge to Bridges, and she symbolises leadership-coup-in-waiting, probably intentionally, which is not good for National.

  • Justice spokesman Mark Mitchell: 8.0
  • Michael Woodhouse 8.0
  • Paul Goldsmith 7.5

They have adapted from Government to Opposition better than most.

  • Jami-lee Ross 1.0

Generous. I guess he is still an MP, but in name only, he is still on sick leave.

Party front bench ratings:

  • National 7.5
  • Labour 6

Probably fair. Too many of the Labour front bench are struggling. Watkins didn’t rate Megan Woods, Chris Hipkins, Carmel Sepuloni, David Clark, Nanaia Mahuta, Stuart Nash.

I’ll give a special mention to two rooky back benchers who have taken to quite different roles very capably.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has done a lot of hard work, especially on drug law reform, and unlike some of her colleagues hasn’t been looking like an out of place activist. A very promising list MP.

National MP Hamish Walker scored the safe Clutha-Southland electorate that had been very controversial last term when Todd Barclay proved unsuitable as an MP. In contrast Walker has been doing the hard yards in the largest electorate in the country working on things that matter to his constituents. He is a model first term electorate MP – work hard locally and keep out of the national spotlight while you learn the ropes.

 

 

 

‘Human-caused climate change is transforming the Arctic’

The Arctic is experiencing a period of unparalleled warmth “that is unlike any period on record,” according to the 2018 Arctic Report Card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States Department of Commerce).

According to the report  human-caused climate change is transforming the Arctic, both physically through the reduction of sea ice, and biologically through reductions in wildlife populations and introduction of marine toxins and algae.

– Arctic Report Card: Update for 2018 – Tracking recent environmental changes, with 14 essays prepared by an international team of 81 scientists from 12 different countries and an independent peer-review organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council.

Temperatures in the Arctic are warming more than twice as fast as the overall planet’s average temperature, with temperatures this year in the highest latitudes (above 60 degrees north) coming in 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981-2010 average. These were the second warmest (behind 2016) air temperatures ever recorded during the Arctic year, which runs from October through September to avoid splitting the winter season.

The five years since 2014 have been warmer than any other years in the historical record, which goes back to 1900. Although Arctic temperatures have been subject to wild swings back and forth through the decades due to natural variability, they have been consistently warmer than average since 2000 and at or near record since 2014, the report states.

“The changes we are witnessing in the Arctic are sufficiently rapid that they cannot be explained without considering our impacts on the chemistry of the atmosphere,” Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia who authored part of the report, told CNN in an email.

The report is yet another study from part of the US government indicating that climate change is real and having a profound impact, despite denials from the President and senior members of his Administration.

 2018 Arctic Report Card peer-reviewed report

Political year review – the parties 2018

A lot of politics and politicians fly under the media radar. Some MPs make the headlines, because the have prominent jobs, because they seek publicity, or because publicity seeks them, or they cock up. Here’s a few of my thoughts and impressions on the 2018 political year.

Party-wise I don’t think there is much of note.

National and Labour have settled into competing for top party status through the year, with the poll lead fluctuating. It’s far too soon to call how this will impact on the 2020 election, with both parties having problems but still in the running.

Greens and NZ First have also settled in to competing for second level party honours. Nothing drastic has gone wrong for either, but they are both struggling to impress in the polls, and they keep flirting with the threshold. again too soon to call how this will impact on the next election.

ACT is virtually invisible, and unless something drastic changes will remain largely an MP rather than a party.

TOP is trying to reinvent itself without Gareth Morgan leading but Morgan is having trouble letting go of his influence. They have a lot of work to do to build a new profile with whoever they choose as new leader. As with any party without an MP they have an uphill battle with media and with the threshold.

The New Conservative Party is not getting any publicity, apart from their deputy leader posting at Whale Oil, which won’t do much for their credibility. The media seem disinterested, which is the kiss of political death.

No other party looks like making an impression.

With NZ First and Greens expected to struggle to maintain support while in Government (as have support parties in the past), one prospect is that the political landscape and the next election will be a two party race, with Labour and National competing to earn the votes to become a single party Government, which would be a first under MMP.

It’s too soon to call on this. A major factor could be whether voters are happy to see support parties fade away out of contention, or whether enough voters decide small party checks on power are important to maintain.

If the latter this may benefit the Greens IF voters aren’t too worried about a Labour+Green coalition who would have confidence in getting more revolutionary with a second term mandate.

For NZ First much may depend on how let down some of their support feels over a lack of living up to their promises on things like immigration and dumping the Maori seats. A lot may also depend on how Winston Peters weathers another term and whether he stands again.

Winners?

Labour have won back a position as a top dog party after struggling for nearly all of the nine years they were in Opposition.

National continue to win a surprising level of support as long as individual MPs aren’t trying to sabotage the party. The Ross rampage is unlikely to be repeated as other MPs will have seen it as little more than self destructive of an individual’s political future.

So joint winners, sort of but with no prize, and no party deserving of a runner-up place.

Ardern ranked 29th ‘most powerful woman’ in 2018

Forbes have ranked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the 29th most powerful woman in the world for 2018. While Ardern obviously has significant power in New Zealand her world-wide power is not obvious to me.

And ‘power’ is not necessarily a positive – Theresa May is ranked second. She seems to have the power to make a mess of things in the UK, and this has major implications for Europe in particular.

Forbes: Power Women 2018

Change is rippling through the business, tech, entertainment, philanthropical and political spheres alike. The 2018 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list celebrates the icons, innovators and instigators who are using their voice to change power structures and create a lasting impact.

This year, the 15th annual list welcomes 20 newcomers, but what’s notable is who’s moved out, up and down, making way for emerging leaders who are redefining the chief seat and bringing others along with them. We see more change ahead.

It isn’t surprising to see Angela Merkel ranked number 1 – but she recently indicated she won’t stand again for leadership in Germany.

I haven’t heard of most women on the list. Here are some:

  1. Angela Merkel (Germany)
  2. Theresa May (UK)
  3. Christine Lagarde (France)
  4. Mary Barra (USA)
  5. Abigail Johnson (USA)
  6. Melinda Gates (USA)
  7. Susan Wojcicki (USA)
  8. Ana Patricia Botín (Spain)
  9. Marillyn Hewson (USA)
  10. Ginni Rometty (USA)

A few further down:

2. Oprah Winfrey (USA)

23 Queen Elizabeth II (UK)

24. Ivanka Trump (USA)

29. Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand)

30. Gina Rinehart(Australia)

The blurb on Ardern:

“New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to be a fresh voice, advocating for families and normalising working parenthood by bringing her daughter and stay-at-home partner to the UN General Assembly”

  • Ardern set new norms as a government leader when she gave birth, took six weeks maternity leave and shared that her partner will be a stay-at-home dad.
  • She said she is using her platform to “create a path for other women” to follow in her footsteps.
  • Rising to power on a tide of “Jacindamania,” at 38, she is the youngest female leader in the world and New Zealand’s youngest PM in 150 years.
  • As leader of the Labour Party, she promises an “empathetic” government, with ambitious plans to tackle climate change and child poverty.
  • In July she announced welfare reforms including a weekly stipend for new parents and an increase in paid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks.

However Ardern is being criticised in New Zealand for her actions not coming close to living up to her rhetoric.

Helen Clark has been ranked on the list over the years…

  • 2004 – 43rd
  • 2016 – 22nd (most powerful woman in the United Nations)

…but dropped right off it in 2017.

NZ Herald: Jacinda Ardern named among world’s most powerful women

Ardern is one spot higher than Australia’s richest citizen Gina Rinehart, and above some big names such as Beyonce, at number 50, and Taylor Swift, at number 68. Queen Elizabeth is just spots above her at number 23.

Funny that NZH should compare Ardern to celebrities.

Also featured on the list at number 91 is Ana Brnabic, the first female and first openly gay Prime Minister of Serbia, and Zewde Sahle-Work at number 97, the first female president of Ethiopia.

But Serbia (population 7 million) and Ethiopia (population 105 million) are in parts of the world that aren’t so important to a US magazine.

 

Political polls for 2018

Political polls for the year haven’t shown any drastic changes, with Labour and National swapping the lead a few times after Labour had risen to be competitive late last year after the election.

I presume there will be no more political polls for 2018. Colmar Brunton (for 1 News) are the only ones left doing polls, and they have just published what will be their last one for the year.

Reid Research (Newshub) did just two polls this year, in January and May. Roy Morgan have up given doing New Zealand polls. Their last poll was in November 2017.

Labour looked dire mid 2017 but Jacinda Ardern’s leadership turned things around for them enough for them to  be able to form a government, thanks to NZ First.

NZ First have remained in the MMP danger zone, peaking on the 5% threshold but dropping as low as 2.4% (in May).

After polling mostly in the 10-15% range in the first half of last year Greens dropped drastically after the Turei fallout, and through this year holding their support just over the threshold in the 5-7% range. So their support has halved from the support they got for most of last term.

It seems normal for coalition support parties to struggle to maintain support.

After the latest poll Ardern was criticised for claiming that Labour “finishing the year stronger than we started it”, but she is correct, sort of, by a small margin and she is comparing two different polling companies.

Reid Research did an unusually early poll in the political holiday period 18-28 January, and had Labour on 42.3%. In May they had Labour on 42.6%.

Colmar Brunton’s last poll (24-28 November) had Labour on 43% (rounded so could have been as low as 42.51% or as high as 43.49%). However Colmar’s first poll of the year (10-14 February) had Labour at 48% so Labour have dropped back from that Colmar high.

Ardern also said “polls do move around a bit these are all still within the margin of error” –

We can only see trends from Colmar – here are Labour’s results for the year.

  • 10-14 February 48%
  • 7-11 April 43%
  • 19-23 May 43%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  42%
  • 15-19 October 45%
  • 24-28 November 43%

The 48% for Labour looks to be a polling outlier – it could have been accurate at the time, but Labour settled in and remained in the low forties for the rest of the year. While they will be disappointed to be trailing National this is a fairly solid result for them, considering their pre-Ardern polling had them dropping in the twenties. Colmar had them trending down to 24% in July 2017.

National’s results from Colmar this year:

  • 10-14 February 43%
  • 7-11 April 44%
  • 19-23 May 45%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  45%
  • 15-19 October 43%
  • 24-28 November 46%

They were behind Labour in February and in October (affected by the Jami-Lee Ross mess) but this is remarkably consistent for a party in Opposition, and with new leader Simon Bridges (since 27 February) who is struggling to make a mark.

Looking at the Labour and National polling for the year there is little in it, and little significant change in most polls.

Media have tried to make big stories out of their polls, but the reality is quite mundane.

I think we have a real problem with how polls are reported. Obviously media try to get bang for their bucks – polling can be expensive – but they usually make mountains out of mole polls, often blatantly misrepresenting what individual polls mean.

Media try to make each of their polls look like some sort of mini election, which is nonsense. They can only be approximate indicators of support, and the year after an election most of the people care little about politics most of the time.

If media were doing proper journalism they would report on the political polling without sensation and misrepresentation. And mostly that would be (and should be) quite boring.

How should the media get value for the money spent on polls? Perhaps they should also poll on things of real public interest at the same time, and make their big stories about that.

1 News blew that opportunity in the last poll. They did ask a one-off question – Should Simon Bridges boot Jami-Lee Ross from Parliament using waka jumping law?

The results of that mean nothing (and were inconclusive, with 31% saying they didn’t know). Most people have moved on from one MP self-destructing – actually most people probably took little notice when the media were going hard out with headlines.

1 News would probably like to encourage National to chuck Ross out of the waka (that would be out of parliament, they have already chucked him out of the party) because that could be headlined as a sensational political somersault or something.

Rather than aiming for short term headlines 1 News could do a really public service (they are a public media company after all) doing a series of meaningful polls on issues that really matter to people, but it would take months if not years to get a return on their investment. They seem too obsessed with short term ratings and clicks.

So I expect more of the same form polling next year, another non-election year. It’s a shame we are so poorly served by media who do polling, but I don’t see that changing.

Something worse has become prevalent – online polls run by media. They are cheap, and nasty, very unreliable so they are of no useful purpose.

Melbourne Cup day

The Melbourne Cup runs today at 3 pm Melbourne time. That’s 5 pm here, which is an awkward time for me. I can’t remember how long ago I  watched a Cup live. That might be a reason I have lost interest in it over the years.

That there are far fewer New Zealand owned or bred horses involved may be a factor too. In today’s race, of the 24 horses in the field there is only one New Zealand bred (and I think owned) – that’s Who Shot Thebarman, a 10 year old, which is quite old for a horse that’s still racing. Most horses are 4-6 year olds, with a few 7 (3) and 8 (2) year olds. So he’s probably past it. He was bred in Otago (North Taieri), and the ODT says no other 10 year old has won the Cup since it started in 1861 – see Who Shot Thebarman carrying Otago cup dreams. But he did win the Sydney Cup earlier this year.

One other horse, Zacada was sired (by Zabeel) in New Zealand and is based here, but has drawn the widest barrier (24) and has awful recent form, finishing 11th of 13, 15th of 16, 8th of 12 and 12th of 15 in his last four races.

Sir Charles Road is also New Zealand based, was third in this year’s Sydney Cup and fifth in the Auckland Cup (both the same distance as the Melbourne Cup, 3200m). Doesn’t seem a big chance.

Not much Australian breeding either, with just one fully Aussie bred and another four with Aussie dams. The big race has become quite international. There is one Japanese horse. Ireland is prominent, with four fully bred there, plus six sired and another four with Irish dams. Great Britain, USA, Germany and France also feature in the breeding.

I have no idea who has any chance of winning – all starters do theoretically, but some don’t look likely.

NZ Herald has 2018 Melbourne Cup: Runner-by-runner preview and best betting tips from the experts

I remember of a New Zealand horses finding fame in the Cup:

  • 1970 Baghdad Note
  • 1971 Silver Night
  • 1976 Van Der Hum
  • 1977 Gold and Black (NZ bred)
  • 1978 Arwon (NZ bred)
  • 1979 Hyperno (NZ bred)
  • 1983 Kiwi
  • 1985 What a Nuisance (NZ bred)
  • 1987 Kensei (NZ bred)
  • 1988 Empire Rose
  • 1995 Doriemus
  • 1997 Might and Power (NZ bred)
  • 1998 Jezabeel
  • 2001 Ethereal
  • 2007 Efficient (NZ Bred)
  • 2015 Prince of Penzance (NZ bred)

At $7 million stakes (I remember a long way back when the stakes reached a whopping one million) the Cup attracts horses from around the world now. The chances are that the Aussies won’t have a home grown winner, nor be able to claim a New Zealand horse as theirs (Phar Lap won in 1930).

RESULT:

  1. Number 23 Cross Counter (barrier 19)
  2. Number 9 Marmelo (barrier 10)
  3. Number 17 A Prince of Arran (barrier 20)

All from Great Britain (one reason why there is less New Zealand interest in the Cup these days). First and Third from wide barrier draws.

I haven’t heard of any of these horses and haven’t seen the race yet.

Ardern’s speech at Labour conference

Jacinda Ardern has given her speech at the Labour Party conference. I haven’t been following it so will post some reactions

Scoop: Speech: Ardern – Labour Party Conference

New Zealand Government: New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

New workforce a game-changer for kids with learning needs

The Coalition Government will fund a new workforce of educational professionals who will work in schools to ensure children with diverse learning needs get the support they need to learn, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

In a game-changer for students, parents and teachers, approximately 600 Learning Support Coordinators will be employed as early as the beginning of 2020. This will be the first tranche of these positions.

They will work alongside teachers, parents and other professionals to give our students the individualised support they deserve.

“These coordinators will not only help unlock the potential of thousands of children with learning needs, they’ll free up teachers so all children get more quality classroom time to learn,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“A big concern I hear regularly from teachers is the amount of time they spend trying to get support for children with additional needs. The new Learning Support Coordinators are a win-win; kids with both high and moderate needs will get on-the-ground support, parents will have a specialised point of contact and teachers will have more time to teach.

“This $217 million investment over four years follows a major spending increase in Budget 2018, and brings the extra funding the Coalition Government has put into learning support to half a billion dollars. That is a huge investment in our first year into supporting both our kids and our teachers.

“One in five New Zealand children has a disability or other learning and behavioural needs and it’s been too hard, for too long, for them to get support at the right time. Learning support has been neglected for more than a decade.

“The Coalition Government has listened to the parents and students who’ve asked for more support, and teachers who have been calling for this new fully-funded role.

“Learning Support Coordinators will be key people at the heart of a new learning support model, developed by Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin, through her draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan,” said Jacinda Ardern.

The announcement delivers on a number of the 26 recommendations from the Labour, New Zealand First and Green parties’ minority report to the Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Inquiry in the last Parliament. It is also consistent with the Labour and Green Party Confidence and Supply Agreement.

 

Robertson signals 2019 ‘Wellbeing Budget’

In his speech to the Labour Party conference this weekend Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has pre-labelled his next year budget as a ‘Wellbeing Budget’.

Budget 2018 was called Foundations for the Future, and I am proud of what we are building. But, there is more to do. More to do to build an economy that is fit for purpose for the middle part of the 21st century; an economy that is focused on future generations: more productive, more sustainable and more inclusive.

To that end, in Budget 2019 we are making a significant change that will embody our values. Budget 2019 will be New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Budget.

It will be the first budget with that label, but it won’t be the first budget by a long shot that has tried to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Last year, and the year before that (and the year before that), I have spoken about the limitation of tracking our success on a narrow measure such as GDP growth. Well, now we are doing something about it. We are moving beyond GDP to not just look at our financial health, but also the wellbeing of our people, the health of our environment and the strength of our communities.

As the Minister of Finance I will report on all of those measures at Budget time, including on how we are tracking at reducing child poverty.

It is essential that this is based on a robust and credible framework. At the core of our approach will be the Living Standards Framework developed by the Treasury, based on the work of the OECD. It is grounded in core economic concepts to assess the stock of our wellbeing. So, you will hear about financial capital, human capital, natural capital and social capital.

Next month the Treasury will release its first Living Standards Dashboard. This will show a range of indicators of our current wellbeing as a nation. It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing. It is a work in progress. We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand, and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years. But it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.

The Living Standards Framework is designed to outlive any particular Government. It will be a critical input to our Wellbeing Budget, but it will not be the only one. We are using the Child Wellbeing Strategy, evidence from here and overseas about intergenerational success and the advice of experts such as government science advisors.

And that is the critical difference in our Wellbeing Budget. Not only are we going to measure our success differently, we are putting our Budget together on a wellbeing basis as well.

We have identified five core priorities that will define our first Wellbeing Budget. I will announce the detail of these during the Budget Policy Statement next month, but they cover the areas where we think the outcomes will make a substantive difference to both our current and future wellbeing.

These priorities will include sustainably growing and modernising our economy, lifting children’s wellbeing, and yes, we will finally be giving mental health the priority and focus that it deserves.

As we speak, my Ministerial colleagues are working together to produce initiatives that will be squarely focused on long-term intergenerational outcomes. This means we are breaking down the silos of government to form a long-term view.

And we have already started.

He gives some examples.

When we first came into Government we faced a decision about what to do with Waikeria Prison. We were told that we should build a 2,500 bed American mega-prison because it had the cheapest per-prisoner cost. But maybe, just maybe, we could do better if built a smaller prison, with a mental health unit attached to address the underlying causes. And if we focused on more drug and alcohol rehabilitation and more on prisoner housing to support re-integration. That is what we have done and that is a wellbeing approach.

Better mental health support and drug and alcohol rehabilitation have been talked about for a long time, and attempts had been made to address these issues more effectively, but of course better can be done if adequate resources are made available. It will cost more initially, but as Bill English used to promote, it is a social investment that will pay dividends in the longer term.

And just this week the Prime Minister, Phil Twyford and Kelvin Davis announced a once-in-a-generation community renewal in Porirua. Now, this could have been a project just to build more houses, but we see it as a major integrated urban development plan – including education, recreation, social services, and yes, lots of houses. And delivered in partnership with iwi and local council. That is a wellbeing approach.

Al of those things are done now, but perhaps it is new to take an integrated approach to a whole community renewal at the same time.

And we are serious about embedding this approach. Chris Hipkins and I are both working on the most fundamental change to the State Sector and Public Finance legislation in thirty years. This will ensure that collaboration and wellbeing is embedded in how our government agencies work.

Again i don’t think this general approach is new, but if more emphasis is put on improving the wellbeing of people then it could make a real difference – as long as they can avoid getting bogged down with bureaucracy and they can break cycles of dependency.

So delegates, 2019 will be the Wellbeing Budget, and the first steps in changing our yardstick of success.

With finances looking healthy it is a good opportunity to invest (spend more) to achieve longer term gains in wellbeing and in costs of providing state care and assistance.

We will get a better idea of what Robertson is aiming at next May when his ‘wellbeing budget’ is announced.

However if he gets the targets and balances right it may be years if not a decade before the results will be apparent. Wise investments take time.

Full transcript of Robertson’s speech:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1811/S00028/grant-robertson-speech-to-labour-party-conference.htm

Labour 2018 conference after 1 year in Government

Labour is having their annual conference in Dunedin this weekend. In part they will be celebrating their first year in Government under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern. She will give a big speech tomorrow.

From their website:  Year That Was: 365 days in Government!

One whole year. And what a year it’s been.

We’ve certainly achieved a whole lot.

Right off the starting block, we were keen to get stuck in and make some real positive change for New Zealand.

They list a lot of their successes (and not surprisingly no failures). Ardern has something to say:

More from her tomorrow with her Leader’s Speech – New Zealand Labour Party Annual Conference 2018

Join Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern for her first ever Annual Conference speech as the Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. Celebrate this special occasion with us at the Dunedin Town Hall on Sunday 4 November at 1.30pm.

If I could I would have had a look (I’ve been to ACT and NZ First conferences in Dunedin in the past) but I have other commitments tomorrow.

Similar decade rises for household income, cost of housing

This could be relevant to other discussions – household income and the cost of housing have both risen by just over forty percent over the last ten years.

Department of Statistics: Household incomes up over 40 percent from 2008

The average annual household income has risen 41 percent since 2008, up more than twice the rate of inflation, Stats NZ said today.

Over the same period, average annual housing costs increased 43 percent.

“Although average household income grew 41 percent over the last decade, individual households experienced this growth differently,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “While income for the poorest tenth of households grew 29 percent, for the richest tenth, income grew 47 percent.”

From 2008, the average annual household income rose just over $30,000 (41 percent), to reach $105,719 (before tax) in 2018. Over the same period, average annual housing costs increased 43 percent, from $11,967 to $17,122, according to the latest household income and housing-cost statistics. Inflation as measured by the consumers price index increased 17 percent over the same period.

Household income includes any income from wages and salaries, self-employment, investments, government benefits, and superannuation. Housing costs include rent and mortgages, property rates, and building-related insurance.

Housing costs to income ratio remains unchanged from 2008

For the year ended June 2018, households spent an average of $16.30 of every $100 of their household income on housing costs. This is relatively unchanged from the $16 they spent a decade ago.

“Although the ratio of housing costs to household income hasn’t changed significantly over the last decade, certain types of households, such as renters and poorer households, pay a higher proportion of housing costs,” Mr Attewell said.

For the year ended June 2018, 1 in 5 (21 percent) of renting households spent 40 percent or more of their household income on housing costs, including rent. This compared with 7.5 percent of homeowners who spent that much of their household income on housing costs, including mortgages.

“The ratio of housing costs to household income is an important measure, because a high proportion of housing costs is often associated with financial strain, particularly for lower-income households,” Mr Attewell said.