UK election

The UK election is under way. Polls close at 22:00 GMT (11:00 am NZT), with results due to come out this afternoon our time.

This follows elections in 2015 and 2017 and  tumultuous political period mainly due to the Brexit mess and  virtual hung parliament.

BBC – General election 2019: Voters head to polls across the UK

A total of 650 MPs will be chosen under the first-past-the-post system used for general elections, in which the candidate who secures the most votes in each individual constituency is elected.

Elections in the UK traditionally take place every four or five years. But, in October, MPs voted for the second snap poll in as many years. It is the first winter election since 1974 and the first to take place in December since 1923.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cast his vote – he visited a polling station in central London, taking his dog, Dilyn, along with him, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn posed for pictures when he went to vote in north London.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon visited a polling station in Glasgow, while Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson cast her vote at a polling station in East Dunbartonshire, accompanied by her husband Duncan Hames.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price voted in Carmarthenshire and Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley did so in south London.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has used a postal vote.

A post at The Standard by Bill hopes that a late surge of young voter registrations will favour Corbyn and Labour – The Missing Millions.

As Zoe Williams reported in yesterday’s Guardian, none of the predictions flowing from any poll used in the UK incorporates the 4 million new registrations from this year. As she points out, most of those new registrations are from ‘young’ people who are far more likely to vote Labour.

That leaves four million, (registrations in 2019) the majority of whom are young. Even while various pollsters are happy to predict that they will break 2:1 Labour (which is actually quite a cautious estimate: if they’re young, they turn out and they vote tactically, the Labour share could be higher), they have so far been unwilling to build these voters into their predictions.

By my reckoning that’s about 10% of the total number of people who are eligible to vote that have been ‘blanked’ by polling companies.”

I’m almost left scratching my head as to why publication after publication has been been making robust predictions of a Tory victory and a Labour loss based on polling. And here’s the rub. I’m persuaded the predictions are driven by ideology and the polls merely offer cover for that fact.

We’ve heard similar dreams of election miracles and claims of poll and media plots here in the past.

But swordfish suggests Bill’s hopes may be fanciful.

Be nice to think so … but I strongly suspect Zoe is catering to those clutching at straws, Labour having proven unable to narrow the Tory lead over the final week to the extent that supporters would’ve liked.

I think she’s probably wrong for the following reasons:

(1) She is clearly influenced by the widely-held assumption that a similar  Youthquake occurred in 2017. The most authoritative research (by the British Election Study & separately by a few other academics) suggests this was largely a myth … essentially Tremors, yes, but no Youthquake (although the concept still remains popular with one or two Political Sociologists).

(2) My understanding is that Pollsters naturally incorporate newly-registered voters, (in the correct proportion) as they do everyone else, in their samples (& hence in their % & seat predictions).

And – in contrast to 2017, when they were aggressively down-weighting younger voters – almost all UK Pollsters are currently basing their turnout models on respondents self-reported likelihood of voting. Hence, any assumed lower turnout by younger age-groups will be down to a larger proportion of young respondents telling pollsters they’re less likely to vote than people in older age groups.

(3)  Zoe has probably exaggerated the number of new registrations. Chaminda Jayanetti has analysed newly-registered voters across a large number of constituencies (519) in recent days and suggests a much more modest increase – certainly nowhere near 4 million.

(4) Jayanetti certainly argues that newly-registered voters could play a key role in the outcome of up to 20-30 marginals.

But he emphasises that the data compiled from 519 constituencies across the UK, including most battleground constituencies, shows the largest increases in registered voters are generally not located where Labour needs them most – ie in its Red Wall of Northern & Midlands Leave-voting Marginals. The greatest rises tend to be in Metro & student-heavy seats, many of them Labour strongholds & near-strongholds.

Of the 26 most marginal (read: absolute knife-edge) seats in the latest YouGov MRP model predictions … only 9 (according to Jayanetti’s detailed analysis) have experienced the sort of mild-to-significant increases in new registrations that could prove decisive. And of the 41 next-most-marginal, just 1 is showing the sort of substantial rise needed to play a crucial role.

What’s more, a lot of marginals have actually experienced a fall in registered voters. For example, all 4 of the Labour-held marginals in West Yorkshire (each of them a key Tory target) have registered a decline.

So that is some detailed analysis by swordfish, as opposed to cherry picking wishful thinking by Bill, plus predicted odds of various outcomes

I’d say Likelihood:

Small Tory majority: 50%

Larger Tory majority: 30%

Hung Parliament: 20%

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Final UK projections

The four projection models are:

  • FocalData Cons majority 24
  • YouGov Cons majority 28
  • Electoral Calculus Cons majority 46
  • Savanta Cons majority 30

The seat projections are:

  • Conservative 337 to 349
  • Labour 226 to 235
  • SNP 41 to 45
  • Lib Dems 11 to 15

We should find out later today.

 

 

 

Whakaari/White Island eruption – images and videos

Whakaari/White Island erupted on 9 December 2019. It is regarded as New Zealand’s most active volcano, having erupted in 1975-2000, 2012-2013 and 2016.

As at the moment 8 people have been confirmed dead (it has just been announced that 2 more have died of injuries so up from 6) and 8 are still on the island, presumed dead. Over 20 survivors are in hospital suffering from severe burns.

White Island, showing the white clouds of highly acidic gases.

White Island, showing the white clouds of highly acidic gases. (Geonet)

Geonet About:

Sitting 48 km offshore, Whakaari/White Island is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano which has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years. About 70 percent of the volcano is under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand.

A sulphur mining venture began on the island in 1885; this was stopped abruptly in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed, and a landslide destroyed the sulphur mine and miners’ village; twelve lives were lost. The remains of buildings from another mining episode in the 1920’s era are now a tourist attraction.

Although privately owned, Whakaari/White Island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit the volcano every year.

Previous Eruptions

1975-2000:

White Island was in eruption from December 1975 to September 2000, the longest historic eruption episode. This eruption episode developed many collapse and explosion craters. For long periods active vents in these craters emitted volcanic ash. The last major eruption of this episode was in late July 2000 and covered the crater floor area in scoria, also displacing a crater lake and forming a new explosion crater 150 m across.

2012-2013

An explosive eruption occurred on 5 August 2012 with a period of ash emissions. This was followed by heating in the Crater Lake and the extrusion of a small lava dome Oct-Dec 2012.

Steam and sulphur explosions followed in Feb-April 2013 which removed the lake. By June the lake was re-established.

A further explosive eruption followed on 20 August and again on 4,8 and11 October 2013. In November 2015 a large landslide slipped into the lake.

2016

On 27 April a short-lived eruption occurred in the evening. It deposited material all over the crater floor onto some of the crater walls. The eruption and associated small collapse of the lake edge also formed a new depression in the north east corner of the 1978/90 Crater Complex,.

In September, for a short period of time, ash was passively emitted from a vent on the 2012 lava dome.

From a tourist visit in 2017:

Michael Schade has posted a number of videos and and images from Monday’s eruption. He had toured the island half an hour before the eruption and took videos beefore, during and after the eruption from a boat that was leaving the island, but returned to pick up survivors who were on the island during the eruption.

It has been reported that the eruption was virtually silent from the boat.

Checked photo timestamps. Last photo from me standing on the land was 13:49; this first photo of the eruption was 14:12, about a minute or two into the eruption.

Image

At it’s worst the ash, steam and gas cloud engulfed the island.

Image

Survivors waiting on the landing area after the eruption, Some went into the sea to try to moderate the effect of their burns.

This helicopter was knocked off it’s landing pad:

Image

The pilot and four passengers were evacuated by boat. They were not injured as much as most of those on the island.

Last photos: here are the White Island Tour operators rescuing people, timestamp 14:24 (~12-14 minutes after eruption). Endless gratitude to that crew for stepping up as first responders.

Image

Image

More from VOA:

This shows sulphur from the island streaked in the sea.

More tourist videos:

National Geographic details on the eruption:  Why the New Zealand volcano eruption caught the world by surprise

While there was no obvious sign of an imminent eruption on Monday seismic activity on the island has increased significantly since then, meaning recovery of bodies has had to be delayed.


Tour pelo vulcão White Island – New Zealand

Esse video tem por objetivo mostrar um pouco de como foi o tour pelo vulcão White Island antes e depois da erupção.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – December 2019

What is likely to be the last political poll of the year, from 1 News/Colmar Brunton, has national in a strong position, and ACT rewarded for David Seymour’s work on the End of Life Choice Bill.

  • National 46% (down 1)
  • Labour 39% (down 1)
  • Greens 7% (no change)
  • NZ First 4% (no change)
  • ACT 2% (up 1)
  • The Opportunities Party 1%
  • New Conservatives 1%
  • Maori Party 1%

Don’t know or refused to answer – 17%

(Results rounded to the nearest whole number so small party results and movements can be exaggerated) .

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 36% (down 2)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (up 1)
  • Judith Collins 4% (up 1)
  • Winston Peters 3% (down 1)

Between November 23-27, 1006 eligible voters were polled by landline (504) and mobile phone (502). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level. The data has been weighted to align with Stats NZ population counts.

Recent polls charted here: http://www.polled.co.nz/

Me too at U2 concert in Auckland

I went to the U2 concert in Auckland last night. This was their first gig in bout 2 years, kicking of Australian and Asian extension to their 2017 Joshua Tree tour that marked the 30th anniversary of the release of their most popular album.

And I must admit, it is one of my favourite albums too, so this was a looked forward to concert. I haven’t been to U2 before. I was booked to go to Auckland in 2006 but they postponed it, and I couldn’t make the rescheduled show.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds opened, and they were pretty good, with about eleven band members, but for me mostly unremarkable apart from being good solid rock.

The large crowd switched up quite a few notches when the U2 crew appeared on stage one by one. It wasn’t quite Beatlemania but a young women near me was adoringly gaga through the show, it was funny to see that sort of adulation close up. And we were close up, about 5 metres from the extended stage that they started playing on, almost touching the crowd physically and more than touching it emotionally.

They began with some pre-Joshua Tree hits with no visuals apart from lighting, the aim being to connect with the crowd, which they did very well.

They then moved back to the main stage to play through The Joshua Tree, backed by an enormous screen with amazing visuals. Which was just about all shorter people could see in the packed standing area. You don’t go to stadium concerts for box seat close up views and sublime sound – the sound system was very good, but when the crowd sings along to most of the songs you don’t hear everything with clarity.

For me the whole Joshua Tree segment was a highlight, I  thoroughly enjoyed it. The band are seasoned pros but looked like they were doing much more with their music than going through the motions. The buzz obviously keeps them going.

I was standing in the general admission area and far prefer the freedom to move, despite more obstructed views, than a seat in the stands along the sides of the stadium.

After The Joshua Tree they played one later song then waved and went off. It was obvious that there was going to be an ‘encore’, and this staged encore stuff annoys me a bit, and on this occasion the crowd generally didn’t buy into it. We just waited until they came back on and resumed.

The last few songs were good enough. Some people may have not liked the tribute to women in history and women’s liberation when they included Helen Clark, Jacinda Ardern and Pania Newtown, but I thought it was a fair enough expression of well researched local content.

They closed with One, and this featured a big tribute to the Christchurch mosque victims. Very well done and quite moving.

There was no chance of a real encore after that.

So for me a great concert by one of the great bands.

Unfortunately it was followed by a downer. Getting away from a big crowd venue can always be a bit of a hassle, but Mt Smart is the worst I have experienced. It seemed that just about all of the 45,000 or so crowd were leaving in the same direction, towards the Panmure train station. This was slow and at time (quite a bit of time) stalled waiting for trains.

U2 started just after 8:30 and played through until  bit after 10:30, but we didn’t get back to Britomart until after midnight. It was about 1:30 am that I finally got back to where I was staying. It had been a long day and that was a long letdown. I was seriously wondering whether I should go to the second concert tonight, tickets seem to be plentiful and cheap to try to fill the stadium, but the after gig experience has definitely decided me against that.

But I’m very glad I stuck with it this time and made it to the concert. Getting to it wasn’t without some hiccups. I had been quick off the mark and booked reasonable plane tickets and accommodation. Then a few weeks later Jetstar advised the flight time to Auckland was changed, making it too late for the concert. So I had to cancel that and book with air NZ, and by then they were over twice the price.

Then three weeks before the concert accommodation was cancelled – a tenant had apparently damaged it so it needed repairs. Hotels in the CBD were by now horrendous prices. I was fortunately able to chance upon somewhere else, which added an hour to after gig travel.

So I’m pleased I have finally been to see and hear U2, but some of the hassles around it won’t encourage me to come to Auckland for a concert gain.

Earth Overshoot Day – 29 July 2019

29 July 2019 has been calculated by Global Footprint Network as “the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

It’s worse for many countries, including New Zealand – they say that we used a year’s worth of resources on 9 May, well under half a year.

figure showing country overshoot days

While the trend has been flattening out over the last decade it has worsened substantially over the last four decades.

The calculation:

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:

(Planet’s Biocapacity Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

Global Ecological Footprint and biocapacity metrics are calculated each year in the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. Using UN statistics, these accounts incorporate the latest data and the most updated accounting methodology (the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2019 Edition feature 2016 data.) To estimate this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, Ecological Footprint and biocapacity are “nowcasted” to the current year using the latest data from additional sources, such as the Global Carbon Project.

While the actual dates could be quibbled about, I think that a valid and important point is being made – the human population and the way we live exceeds what our planet can cope with, by quite a margin. If this excess continues then Earth will suffer badly (more badly) – which means people and all creatures and plants will suffer. We may be able too carry on despite the damage we are contributing to, but bodes badly for our children and grandchildren.

It’s easy to dismiss this as not our problem, to say that it’s someone else’s problem, but that’s a part of the problem.

It won’t be quick or easy to turn things around, but there is growing attention being paid to at least making things less bd.,

Solutions to #MoveTheDate

From there, one suggestion from Gene Geveridge who is from the north of New Zealand:

Anecdotally there is interest in creating or joining a shared garden for the purpose of food production, food security, food education, and if possible ecological regeneration. Achieving some economy of scale, fostering community relationships and reducing food transport would be more general goals. Success depends on a few people with the right knowledge and experience and a wider group for man-power and to learn the ropes in time.

A setup similar to this could work: https://www.facebook.com/PakarakaPermaculture

That would have environmental as well as community benefits – but it’s remarkable that the right knowledge and experience to help people to learn the ropes to grow their own produce in a garden is seen as necessary. The knowledge and the practice of home gardening seems to have deteriorated alarmingly over the last half century.

I have a home garden and orchard, but could and should do a lot more. This is a project I will be working on more – on it’s own it will just make a tiny difference, but we need a lot of tiny differences to make a real difference.

 

 

Silver Ferns win Netball World Cup

Defying form over the last couple of years, and also seedings and predictions, New Zealand’s Silver ferns have won the 2019 Netball World Cup, beating Australia in the final in Liverpool by just one goal.

 

I even felt a bit emotional watching the final minutes, seeing the reactions to the result, and then the presentations and the national anthem.

Coach Noelene Taurua and everyone else involved in the campaign deserve a lot of credit too.

I’m not a great netball fan, but this is a great effort and a great result.

Netball New Zealand: Silver Ferns win Vitality Netball World Cup

 

England worthy winners of Cricket World Cup

England were worthy winners of the Cricket World Cup just completed at Lord’s in London.

New Zealand’s Black Caps were worthy runners up.

They won by the smallest of margins. The scores were tied after 50 overs, 241 runs to each side. The scores were tied again after a super over, 15 runs each. England won due to the higher number of boundaries scored – that’s the rules so there can be no complaints about that.

There are a number rof things that happened during the game that could have made the difference, could have swung the game one way or the other, but in the end that is all irrelevant. What matters is the final score and the final deciding factor, and England did what mattered.

England have been a top one day team over the last few years and were tournament favourites. They had some wobbles during pool play but won their semi-final easily against defending champions Australia, and won the final just over New Zealand.

This is the first time England have won the World Cup, so very good for them, and despite some disappointment at the result I actually feel as good a as a loser could for the winning team.

The Black Caps exceeded my expectations against Inndia in their semi-final, and exceeded my expectations in the final. I always hoped they could win, and they came so close to doing so, but my main thoughts coming into this game were hoping they would wouldn’t lose badly, and that they would lose with credit.

They couldn’t have come closer so couldn’t have come out of this tournament with more credit, short of winning.

This was one of the greatest games of cricket ever and was also worthy of a final. It will be very good for the game to have had such a hard fought, close game, played in extremely good spirit by England and New Zealand.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand  captain):

“Look, it certainly wasn’t just one extra run. So many small parts in that match that could have gone either way as we saw. Congratulations to England on a fantastic campaign.

It’s been challenging, the pitches have been a little different to what we expected. Lots of talk of 300-plus scores, but we haven’t seen many of those.

I’d like to thank the New Zealand team for the fight they showed to keep us in the tournament, and get us this far. A tie in the final. So many parts to it. The players are shattered at the moment. Obviously it’s devastating. They’ve performed at such a high level through the tournament.

We were weighing up the overheads versus the pitch, it was on the drier side. runs on the board, as it proved, was going to be challenging. We would have liked another 20, but in a World Cup final we’ll take 240-250. Both sides showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight. For it to go to the last ball, and the last ball of the next match, it was pretty hard. That [the Stokes deflection] was a bit of a shame, wasn’t it? You just hope it doesn’t happen in moments like that. You can nitpick, but perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be for us. It is perhaps tough to review the match, and such small margins.”

Eoin Morgan (England captain):

“There wasn’t a lot in that game, jeez. I’d like to commiserate with Kane. The fight, the spirit they showed. I thought it was a hard, hard game.

This has been a four-year journey, we’ve developed a lot over those years, particularly the last two. To get over the line today means the world to us. The guys in the middle keep us cool, the way they play, the experience. It’s calming at times. Not a lot between the teams. Just delighted we’re lifting the trophy today.

As long as he wasn’t too cooked [sending Stokes back out for the Super Over]. Full credit to those two boys and Jofra. Every time he plays, he improves. The world is really at his feet at the moment.”

Grant Robertson on Newshub Nation

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was interviewed on Newshub Nation yesterday.

First, the sideshow.

imon Shepherd: It’s the highlight of the political year, for the government and one man in particular, the Finance Minister. I asked Finance Minister Grant Roberson if he was disappointed that the unauthorised early release of budget details overshadowed his first wellbeing budget. 
Robertson: I don’t think that it did. The reaction that we’re getting from New Zealanders to the budget is that they’re really pleased that we’re focused on a big, long-term issue like mental health. I don’t think New Zealanders are focused on the political games in Wellington.
But there were so many of them. There was the leak of the documentation, the allegations of a hack — you sort of seemingly linking the National Party to that, and then it wasn’t a hack. It was shambolic.
Look, I’ve expressed my disappointment in the fact that the Treasury system could be infiltrated this way and also that the Treasury didn’t do more to find out what had happened before they referred it to the police. The reality is that that’s now in the hands of the State Services Commissioner, who is doing an inquiry, and we’ll await the outcomes of that.
Well, how do you think you handled it all?
Look, I invite you to put yourself in my shoes. On Tuesday night the Chief Executive of the Treasury arrived in my office and said about an hour ago I have referred to the police 2000, of what he called, hacks into the system. I said to him, ‘Do you know how that’s happened?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Do you know if any other areas of the Treasury system have been compromised?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t.’ So at that point, I’m going to take that matter pretty seriously. That’s what we did. Obviously more information has now come to light. That’s what the inquiry will cover.
Do you think you acted too quickly? Do you think you should’ve waited and got some more information before you put out that press release just then, which seemed to indicate that National was linked to the allegations of a hack?
Like I say, I think most people in my shoes, having received the information I did, would react and say, ‘Well, we need to make sure, regardless of how the National Party might’ve got the information, that they were aware of what the Treasury had advised me. We all now know that the situation is somewhat different. The inquiry will look into how that happened.

Then the meat of the topic.

You named it the Wellbeing Budget, but mental health aside, what is actually transformational about it?
I think the work that we’re doing in domestic and sexual violence is absolutely transformational. We’re talking there about breaking a cycle that has bedeviled New Zealand for many years. $320 million going into that. We’re going to transform the lives of people who are on benefits by indexing that to the average wage. That’s going to lift their incomes consistently.
Okay. Well, let’s talk about that. Obviously the Welfare Expert Advisory Group said 12-47 per cent boost to benefits is needed, something like $5 billion. You didn’t go near that. You’ve done $300 million. Why not?
Well, because we’re doing this in phases. And we’ve actually done three things —we’ve done, not only the indexation of benefits, but we’ve also lifted the abatement rate — the rate at which your income drops if you’re working while you’re on a benefit. And we’ve got rid of the sanction that was on mothers who didn’t identify the fathers of their children. That’s stage one. We absolutely acknowledge that there’s further work to do in this area.
Do you think that you missed a chance to be transformational by not implementing a capital gains tax?
Well, as you well know, I would’ve like to have implemented a capital gains tax. That, of course, would not have come into force until after the election. That was always the plan, but the realities of coalition government are we didn’t have the numbers for that.
What about a greater focus on business? If you lift them and provide incentives for business, that changes the whole economy, doesn’t it? So why didn’t you do that?
Well, we are. There’s a great deal of focus on supporting business. One of the things I’m really excited about in this budget is the $300 million fund for venture investment in those businesses that have got past the start-up phase and are looking to grow to be international companies, and Peter Beck from Rocket Lab has raised this issue with us and said, ‘Too many of these companies head offshore because there isn’t investment here.’ The government’s now got $300 million of skin in the game.
But I would say to you, that this country is made up — the backbone — is small to medium enterprises, and the businesses you’re talking about there are start-ups that want to go internationally. You’re not addressing the small to medium enterprises.
Well, I’d argue we are. The biggest issue raised with me by business is skilled staff, infrastructure, making sure we get those trade agreements going so people can export. They are the issues we are working on.
Could you have been more transformational if you’d relaxed your debt rules earlier? Is there a chance you could look back at this and say, ‘I wish I hadn’t played it so safe’?
It’s always about a balance. We have to make sure that we do keep our debt under control. We’re a small country. We’re susceptible to significant economic shocks and natural disasters. We are actually borrowing more money in this Budget. The economy is growing as well. That means the percentage of GDP stays steady, but we are borrowing to invest in those areas like infrastructure, building up KiwiRail, building more schools and hospitals. But it is all about a balance, and I think we’ve got it right.
Well, what about the balance — you’ve just mentioned shocks like natural disasters or international shocks. You are actually borrowing more. You are running down the projected surpluses. Are you leaving us vulnerable to something like that?
No, I don’t believe so. I mean, we still have a surplus of $1.3 billion here. We still have debt at a relatively low level. We are creating that balance, but we made a decision in this Budget to spend more than we had originally allocated, and that’s because the need was there. The need was there in infrastructure, but the need was also there in services like mental health. We always said, Simon, is that a sustainable surplus would be one where we’d met the needs that were there, so therefore this Budget that surplus is a bit lower, but it still exists.
Are you meeting the health needs though? Because National’s Amy Adams points out that policies for midwives, no free health checks for seniors, reduced GP fees — those kinds of things are not addressed in this particular budget. And in fact, figures from the Child Poverty Action Group show that spending on public health is forecast to be the lowest in a decade by 2023.
Well, what we’ve done is prioritise mental health, and we’ve been completely upfront about that from day one. We have a mental health crisis in New Zealand. It’s been ignored, but there’s still significant resources going into the rest of our health system, around $2.9 billion into supporting DHBs, more money for ambulances. There are other areas, within our coalition agreement, within our confidence-and-supply agreement that we’ll look to address in next year’s Budget, but we made mental health a priority.
Such as?
Well, you’ll have to wait till next year.
What about teachers, though? They’re crying out for some more love from the government, and they’ve just announced more disruptive action. So why couldn’t you address that in this Budget?
We believe we’ve got a fair offer on the table, the $1.2 billion offer. The Budget also addresses some of the non-pay-related issues that teachers have been raising. Six hundred learning support coordinators for what we used to call special ed. 2480 more teachers—
And yet they’re still unhappy?
Well, that’s the reality of the world. What I hope is happening, and I’m pretty sure it is happening right now, is that the Ministry of Education and the unions are sitting down together to say, ‘Look, how can we resolve this?’ We want it resolved. We understand the frustration of teachers after 10 years of not getting supported. Let’s take these first steps together now.
What is there in this Budget for middle New Zealanders? Sort of, those low to middle income families. There doesn’t seem to be anything.
Well, I’d give you one example. We’re removing school donations for decile one to seven schools.
But in the hip pocket there’s nothing like tax bracket creep or anything like that.
Well, look, we’ve made a commitment not to change tax rates in this term of government because we believe that we need the resources that are there to meet the needs that are there.
Well, let’s talk about housing. There is nothing actually, really, apart from the Housing First — the transitional housing — there’s nothing else for housing in this Budget. You’ve got KiwiBuild, which has stalled at the moment because it’s not delivering.
We put $2 billion in last year’s Budget for KiwiBuild for the life of the programme—
And it’s not delivering.
And as you know, there is a housing reset coming forward, and actually in the Budget documents we state that we’ve put some money aside to help manage that housing reset.
How much?
You’ll see the details of that when the reset’s released.
What about the policies that you agreed with the Greens, like a shared equity scheme to get more people to be able to afford to buy into our houses. What happened to that?
As I say, you’ll have to wait for the housing reset that Minister Twyford’s going to announce, but clearly we’ve got a large-scale building programme for housing that’s not just about KiwiBuild. It’s about state housing, transitional housing. Mr Twyford’s now going to come back with that reset, and you’ll be able to see—
But there’s 11,000 people on the state housing list, and there’s nothing extra in this Budget for them.
Well, we made a significant investment in the building of 6000 state houses in the last Budget. We’ve got an integrated programme with transitional housing and affordable housing. Phil Twyford’s going to announce a housing reset. We’ve set some money aside to support that.
What would you say to business-owners, teachers and say, middle income, low-income earners — some of those feel left out by Budget 2019. What would you say to them? What hope will you offer them for next year?
Look, I’ve always said that the three budgets of this term are a trilogy. Last year we did the foundation-building of making sure we got spending back into those core areas. This year we’ve targeted areas like mental health that all of those people will benefit from. We’ve got a third Budget to come as well.
So is that going to be the blockbuster for these people?
No, I see them all as part of an attempt to start turning around a decade of neglect in a lot of important areas in New Zealand. Two-thirds of the way through, I think we’re making good progress.

A pretty good budget

I despair about the circus leading up to and surrounding yesterday’s budget. Media even investigated the person on the cover photo of the printed budget in a bizarre sideshow. And there were a number of ‘what’s in it for you’ angles, despite lolly scramble budgets largely being very historic,

But for what really mattered, I think that yesterday’s budget was pretty good, delivered by someone who increasingly looks like a pretty good Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson.

A significant boost to mental health related initiatives is long overdue, and very good to see,

Indexing benefits to wages is also a long overdue fix to the erosion of benefit value over the years.

There’s a bunch of other stuff that can be praised or quibbled about, but generally it seems ok to me.

There is always a limit to how much a Government can spend of our money, and there’s a limit to tolerance of how much we are taxed. Robertson and the Government seems to me to have found a fairly good balance. They will never please all of the people all of the time, but I don’t think there’s much to be worried about.

Budget today

It is budget day in Parliament. I don’t see any point in saying much until we know what is in it.