Labour’s new co-leader

Perhaps this was a Freudian slip by Andrew Little’s office in a letter sent out by Labour and the Greens this week, announcing the parties’ joint inquiry into homelessness.


A possibly unobservant Metiria Turei signed off as Labour Party Co-leader.

Labour: 98% of people in crisis

Labour is trying to promote the housing crisis some more, saying that 98% of people are affected by it – because house prices in 98% of the country have risen faster than inflation over the past year.

Housing crisis affecting more than 98 per cent of NZ

July 14, 2016

Labour’s new housing map shows the housing crisis is now affecting more than 98 per cent of New Zealand, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

They have set up a housing map so you can see if you are in crisis. This makes questionable claims, has barely legible fine print and implies that they will capture your location automatically.

I am told that:

It’s getting harder to afford a home in Dunedin’s coastal suburbs.

In the past year, house prices rose by 4.5%, from $278,000 to $291,000.

That’s not right. I presume the average price in the region rose by that amount but that doesn’t apply to ‘houses’, only some houses.

24% of homes are now rented in your local area, and 30% of children live in rentals.

Just 39% of adults under 40 own their own home.

The Kiwi Dream of home ownership is slipping out of reach for more and more families.

76% house ownership in my area sounds remarkably high, way above average. I don’t see that as a local crisis.

In Otago, rents rose by 8.7% over the last year.

The average rent is now $364 per week.

That’s a problem for those who are renting and have had their rents go up faster than their incomes.

At the same time, incomes fell 5.6%.

I am very dubious about this claim. Very.

In Dunedin, 390 houses have no heating.

I very hard to believe that there are houses with no heating here.

And 75 families are waiting for state houses while 70 state houses are sitting empty.

There have been waiting lists for state houses probably since they started building them.

Without knowing why their are empty houses it’s hard to judge that, but I’m fairly sure they are not empty for no good reasons.

Next the take you to a screen that promotes the Labour plan – and then asks for you to sign an odd looking petition:

Do you agree?

Sign the petition in support of Labour’s comprehensive housing plan:

They now have petitions to agree with party policies? What if they don’t get enough signatures? Throw the policy out like they have with things like CGT, setting up a power authority and dying with dignity?

Of course they want your contact details, with some very fine print I can barely read:


The bit that is ticked by default that can’t be easily read:


So they are not being very clear about putting you on their junk mail list.

And note that while the petition doesn’t require you to enter your address they say they will “collect your address to help us tailor our communications to you, based on your location”.

Presumably that’s the location entered at the start to “Find out how it’s looking in your community”.

Back to the headline: Housing crisis affecting more than 98 per cent of NZ

Talk about overstating a problem. I’m not buying or selling at the moment and am paying record low interest rates for my mortgage.

There will be many people like me who are benefiting from current conditions rather than being in a grossly overstated crisis.

The 98% claim is unadulterated bollocks.

Compulsory land acquisition

In September last year the Productivity Commission, in its ‘Using Land for Housing’ report, recommended setting up urban development authorities with powers of compulsory land acquisition for housing.

At the time Housing Minister Nick Smith said:

“Obviously the issue of overriding private title for development is a big call, but my view is if we are going to get the quality of urban development, particularly in the redevelopment area where you can often have a real mix of little titles that makes doing a sensible development difficult, in my view it’s one of things we’ll need to consider.”

Just over a week ago at his party’s annual conference John Key said that National was looking in to ‘Urban Development Authorities’ but appears to rule out compulsory land acquisition for housing.

Urban Development Authorities on the way

The government intends introducing legislation later this year to create Urban Development Authorities in areas of high housing need, Prime Minister John Key says.

He told the National Party’s annual conference on Sunday UDAs were being considered, and firmed that up at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday.

“We will consider the best approach to establishing these over the coming weeks with a view to introducing legislation later this year,” he said.

The aim is to give the authorities powers to override barriers to large-scale housing development.

Mr Key says they’ve been used widely and successfully in other countries.

“What’s made them successful is they have total control over the particular area they’re developing, extremely broad-ranging powers,” he said.

Questioned whether they could be given powers to seize land from “landbankers” – people who hang onto land without developing it – he said that wasn’t the government’s intention.

“In the practical world we live in we are not trying to march over the top of peoples’ property rights,” he said.

In policy announced yesterday Labour said they plan to set up a similar type of authority but one that will be able take over private land.

Labour supports compulsory land acquisition for housing development

Labour’s proposed Affordable Housing Authority will have powers to buy land compulsorily, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

The authority will be tasked with partnering with developers to build 10,000 new homes a year priced below $600,000 in Auckland and below $500,000 elsewhere.

Little said it would need to be able to buy land compulsorily to put together land parcels big enough for bulk developments.

“There will have to be acquisition powers with the Affordable Housing Authority,” he said.

“You are trying to partner up with councils and others. The reality is the housing issue is serious and there is going to have to be the means to cut through those barriers.”

However compulsory land acquisition isn’t stated in Labour’s policy as far as I can see, but there are possible hints. From Establishing an Affordable Housing Authority:


  • Establish the Affordable Housing Authority, an independent Crown entity with a fast-tracked planning process, tasked with leading large-scale housing developments and cutting through red tape

The Affordable Housing Authority will have access to fast tracked planning powers to cut through red tape and speed up development

This coordination with communities and the private sector, combined with the Affordable Housing Authority’s powers and control of Crown land, will enable rapid development of large-scale projects focused on affordable housing.

So suggestions of powers without specifying what they will be (and “cut through red tape” would have to have significant power over or make changes to the Resource Management Act).

Perhaps the compulsory acquisition of land at low prices is one way they will keep the houses ‘affordable’.

Q&A: Little, UK/Iraq and children

On Q & A this morning:

100 years of Labour-what is it offering voters today? joins at 9am this morning


Also we cross live to Br Major General Julian Thompson on this week’s damning report into the


Also on the show interviews new Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft


Andrew Little:

Little’s phrase of the day is “more affordable houses”. Building state houses and giving them to select people at subsidised rents is affordable for who?

Little says they can make houses affordable. Confident the can make houses at a much more affordable level, but does not favour bringing down house prices.

He says the Government is “terrified” of doing anything that will help first home buyers. Not consistent with leaving current prices as they are.

Talking about selling state houses to tenants and then building more. That could be a good idea but it depends on whether it is subsidised or not, people who qualify for state houses are unlikely to be able to buy unless their circumstances change significantly.

Little says a trade deal with the EU is important despite his opposition to the TPPA, but says that we can’t compromise our sovereignty.  He may find that negotiating trade deals without compromise will be a bit of a challenge.

Little is still speaking with uncertainty and hesitation.

He doesn’t have any conspiracies about media and conspiracies and bias. He says that the way people are getting news is changing.

Dann refers to Brian Edwards column Little sidesteps that and talks about addressing the issues. That’s something he keeps repeating.

“I’m not a show pony, I’m a straight shooter”.

Coincidentally from @josiepagani

Kinnock ‘People of deep convictions can afford to compromise. People of shallow convictions are terrified of it.

Br Major General Julian Thompson:

Supports exiting the EU, saying that NATO is what is important because the US is a part of it – he says that the US contributes 73% of the cost of NATO.

100th birthday hardly celebrated

The Labour Party is sort of celebrating it’s 100th birthday this week but celebrations seem muted within the party and most of the presents from the outside are booby trapped.

Most of the commentary is looking at the end of the last hundred years and not with much  optimism at the start of the next few years for Labour.

The fortunes of a party depend a lot on it’s leader. While John Key’s star quality is gradually waning in comparison Andrew Little still looks like a red dwarf.

Tracey Watkins: Should a lack of charisma be politically fatal?

Andrew Little is the sort of bloke you could quite happily chat with over a beer. Smart, self deprecating, a bit of a laugh. Not so different to John Key, in fact. you could even imagine the two of them hitting it off if they met as strangers.

So why is it when you ask people about Labour, they see a very different man to the Little his friends and colleagues know? He’s angry, he’s always whingeing, they’ll tell you. Hopeless even, some say.

But is the criticism of Little a symptom or is it the cause of Labour’s current malaise in the polls? And as Labour looks back on the last 100 years, can it be confident the party will still be around to celebrate 100 years from now? Or has its time come?


Stacey Kirk: Is National prepared for a post-Key era? Some lessons National and Labour can learn from each other

Labour’s duo of leader Andrew Little and Grant Robertson are perfectly competent. 

But one thing that’s clear in this post-fact, Trump-rising, Brexiting world is that identity politics is the way it’s played now. 

What Little and Robertson lack in dynamic-duo appeal, Key and Finance Minister Bill English have in spades. 

And all four men can yarn away affably in a one-on-one, but place a camera in front them and only one seems to be able to beam that geniality into people’s smartphones and living rooms.

Ex Labour MP (and ex ACT leader) Richard Prebble at NBR:

Prebble with a caustic remark or three as Labour turns 100

Then there’s Andrew Little, the product of allowing a “party membership that’s way to the left of Labour voters” to select the party’s leader, something he notes is also bedevilling Britain’s Labour Party.

Not only does Mr Prebble think Mr Little is a “very unattractive leader,” he also views his strategy of forming a “coalition, alliance, whatever you want to call it, with the Greens” is  “sheer lunacy.”

“He’s basically giving permission for people to vote Green, a strategy Helen Clark was adamantly opposed to and that Shorten in Australia is opposed to.”

It’s one, he says, that could result in the Greens could potentially usurp Labour as the primary progressive party in New Zealand.

He believes the party is “looking out for talent, any sign of it, and they’re making sure they don’t select it.”

Instead, he says, “They’ve used the list system to basically provide jobs for second-rate trade union organisers.

That’s harsh but may be fair enough about past list selection. Yesterday Labour changed the way they select their list, that may or may not improve things.

Recently Brian Edwards highlighted the media obsession with media competence.

Can Andrew Little win next year’s election for Labour? A reluctant assessment.

After 18 months in the job, the Leader of the Opposition still looks dreadful on television and sounds dreadful on radio. His ‘bubbly personality’  joke has descended from irony to farce. In a recent interview – I think it was on Q+A – he saidy’know so many times that I eventually gave up counting. He talks to his interviewers but doesn’t engage with them on a personal plane. He looks and sounds like the caricature of an old-style British trade unionist.

His personal ratings reflect all of this. That, sadly, is a losing formula for any aspiring Prime Minister. Pity!

It may be a sad indictment on modern politics and media where TV ratings seems more important than ability to lead a party and run a country but that’s the reality and parties have to choose their leaders knowing this.


Perhaps Andrew Little will surprise everyone this afternoon and start changing minds and hopes.


Labour would add 1,000+ state houses per year

Andrew Little seems to have let out a bit of housing policy early on The Nation this morning, saying if Labour were in Government they would build a thousand or more state houses a year until there were enough, but was vague about how long it might take..

Lisa Owen: Are you going to build more state houses?

Andrew Little: Yes we’ll be doing that, in fact I’ll be talking today about what we do in the state housing arena.

Lisa Owen: So what are you going to do in that arena?

Andrew Little: We are going to build more state houses. We will, I mean the last time Labour was in Government it built roughly eight thousand, added  eight thousand new state houses to it’s stocks…

Lisa Owen: How many will you add?

Andrew Little: We are looking at at least a thousand, um, a year until we meet demand. This  government has sold two and a half thousand state houses, reduced it’s state housing stock,  it has a plan to sell eight thousand more. It’s got a, it’s got a housing…

Lisa Owen: Yeah so how long do you think to meet that demand Mr Little? How long, you say a thousand houses until you meet demand, so what do you estimate that period will be?

Andrew Little: Um yeah, um that’ll be, that could be a few years, ah hard to stipulate that. Um, when you look, when you look at a…

Lisa Owen: Five years, ten years?

Andrew Little: Yeah could be five years.

Quite a bit of vagueness, hesitancy and uncertainty in that.Perhaps Labour are still finalising their research before announcing the policy this afternoon.

If National have reduced state housing stock by two and a half thousand and are planning on reducing it by 8,000 then it will take Labour about ten years to get back to where the stocks were before National disposed of some.

Labour’s current slogan is “We’re backing the Kiwi dream”.


Is the Kiwi dream to get a state house? Perhaps it is for some, I know it used to be, but is it what people should aspire to?



The Nation: Little on housing

Andrew Little will be interviewed about Labour’s housing policy proposals on The Nation this morning.

starts his big weekend of housing policies live on , talking to .

On Thursday Little announced policy on social housing – see Labour’s Emergency Housing Plan – but it didn’t get much attention. The Standard didn’t even do a post on it.

Two more housing policy announcements will be made this weekend, apparently with a big announcement tomorrow by Little.

Little is somewhat hobbled by not being able to disclose his announcement due tomorrow, so he can only criticise the Government and talk generally about it.

Why do politicians do interviews like this before they have announced things?

From The nation Twitter feed:

Little says NZ needs to cut number of work permits for immigrants. 5000 extra last year too many (but is not specific).

Labour will announce today their state housing policy, which will be building more state houses.

But it could take a few years, maybe 5 years.  That’s after next year’s election should Labour form the next Government, and then after they get the building under way.

Kiwibuild affordable house will be $400-500,000 reveals Little.

Little says Labour in government will build around 1000 state houses a year ‘until demand is met’.

“There will be newsness in it”- on his housing policy announcement to be made tomorrow.

So wait until tomorrow to find out all about it.


Sue Moroney Retweeted The Nation

That would be “at least” 1000 new state houses.

Little versus Key on housing

Not surprisingly housing was the top topic in question time in Parliament today.


2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement regarding housing that “I don’t think it’s a crisis”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, I am concerned about rising house prices. It is certainly one of our biggest challenges, and that is why the Government has a comprehensive plan to deal with it.

Andrew Little: Does he think the Auckland housing market is under control?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, that is a sort of subjective comment, but certainly there is a record amount of construction taking place in Auckland. I think the Auckland Council is working constructively with the Government, and the Auckland Council certainly looks to be very supportive of the announcements that the Government made on Sunday.

ANDREW LITTLE: Given that only 9,400 new houses have been consented in Auckland this year and that Bill English says that only 5 percent of new builds are affordable, does this mean that fewer than 500 affordable houses will be built in Auckland this year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Andrew Little: How does he reconcile his claim that there are plenty of houses in the pipeline with Statistics New Zealand’s statement that “The trend for the number of new dwellings consented in Auckland has tailed off since late 2015.”; or is that just another inconvenient fact for his Government?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Consenting for new houses in Auckland is at the highest for a decade. The Government can see, in the great number of special housing areas in Auckland, how many have infrastructure works on them. All of the feedback, both official and otherwise, that we get from Auckland Council is that it is continuing to process those consents at a very fast rate, and I have no doubt that both the national policy statement, potentially the implementation of urban development authorities, and the billion-dollar fund announced on the weekend—all part of the Government’s comprehensive plan—will see more houses built.

Andrew Little: Does he agree with the New Zealand Herald that his piecemeal efforts have failed to resolve the housing crisis and that lending money to councils will be no different?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Mr Twyford—Order! A little less interjection.

Tim Macindoe: What steps is the Government taking as part of its comprehensive plan to deal with housing—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Tim Macindoe: —and—

Mr SPEAKER: No. I am getting email from members of the public who are now getting quite fed up with the fact that they cannot hear a question and often they cannot hear an answer because some members to my left either do not like the question or do not like the answer. Mr Macindoe has a right to ask a question. I can deal with it more severely if I need to. I do not want to. I am just seeking some cooperation from members to my left.

Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Disorder is encouraged when questions are not in order. The Standing Orders make it clear that questions are not allowed to include assertions. The idea that the—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order.

Hon David Parker: The idea that the Government can load up a question by saying that its response is comprehensive, as an assertion, is what caused the disorder.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] No, I do not need any assistance—[Interruption] Order! No, I do not need your assistance, but I do thank you for offering it. I will determine whether a question is in order or not. There will be some questions asked that members do not like the tone of, and that applies to both sides. Some Opposition questions members on my right-hand do not like, and the other way round. I will be the sole determinant, but I thank Mr Parker for his assistance.

Tim Macindoe: What steps is the Government taking as part of its comprehensive plan to deal with housing and housing affordability issues?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There are many parts to the Government’s comprehensive housing plan. They include our social housing bill, our emergency housing programme, special housing areas, the expanded HomeStart scheme for first-home buyers, freeing up surplus Crown land, the national policy statement, Resource Management Act reforms, and the extra tax measures we took last year. On Sunday I announced a new $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to support infrastructure needed for new housing in high-growth areas, and we are considering independent urban development authorities for areas of high housing need. By any definition, this is a very comprehensive housing plan.

Denis O’Rourke: If it costs $1 billion to fix a housing challenge in Auckland, how much will it cost to fix the housing crisis in all of New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The $1 billion is actually only a small part of the infrastructure that is required to build all of the houses around New Zealand, but the Government is, I think, making an important step to allow those councils to bring forward housing that would otherwise be waiting. But, by any definition, the Government’s response is wide ranging, and we can see that by the fact that we are in the biggest housing boom and construction boom we have seen for a very long time.

Andrew Little: In light of the fact that councils can already borrow at 3 percent a year, meaning his new loan facility really just amounts to a $30 million-a-year saving for councils, is that seriously the best and most comprehensive response he can come up with for a shortfall of 40,000 houses?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The issue is not the interest rates that councils might be able to borrow at; the issue is whether the councils run into their debt ceilings. The advantage of the fund is that it does not go on to the balance sheet of the councils until they are at a point of actually having the cash up front. The fact that the member does not understand the way that the balance sheets of a council are made up would come as no surprise to members on this side of the House, but he really should learn some basic economics.

Tim Macindoe: What reports has the Prime Minister seen in support of the Government’s new $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, which he announced at the weekend?

Hon Annette King: What did the New Zealand Herald say?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, the New Zealand Herald thought your leader was a loser, so if you want to quote the , fine, you can go for it. []

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a good example of the way an interjection from my left to my right causes some disorder. If the Prime Minister would now address the question.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have seen many reports providing strong support—

Hon Member: He’s a bit sensitive.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yeah, that is true. That is why Grant was promoting the article. The Property Institute of New Zealand said these measures are great. Local Government New Zealand said that the new fund is an example of local and central government working together. The Queenstown Lakes mayor said that it would certainly be right that looking for these projects would be an excellent idea. And the Auckland mayor said that it is a significantly sized fund. There has been widespread support for the new Housing Infrastructure Fund.

Andrew Little: How many more housing announcements that were not in the Budget is he planning to make to tackle a crisis he says does not exist, or is the Budget not comprehensive any more?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is right that it is a comprehensive plan and has many parts to it. There are always other parts of it, potentially. That is really the point, is it not, with the challenge of housing, not just in Auckland but anywhere else around the world where we are seeing this. There is no one single thing that will resolve it. What we do know is that this Government is tackling each and every part of it, and that is in quite significant contrast to the last time New Zealand saw these issues, under the previous Labour Government, when there were no parts to any plan [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I have told this side off a number of times for its interjections. They are just about as insistent from one member to my right, and they will cease.

Andrew Little: Is it not time for him to admit what every New Zealander can see: that his Government has no comprehensive plan and that what we need is a Government-led programme to restore the Kiwi dream of homeownership by building thousands of affordable homes for Kiwis to buy?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If the member was to be believed, then we would not have the highest level of building activity in Auckland for a decade. If the member was to be believed, we would not have 24,000 extra people working in the construction sector in Auckland alone. If the member was to be believed, the special housing areas that have been released in Auckland by the Government would not be being built. If the member was to be believed, the Auckland Council would be rejecting the $1 billion infrastructure fund that the Government announced in the weekend; in fact, it is quite the opposite. If the member was to be believed, then the tax changes that we announced last year would not have had any impact on the market. If the member was to be believed, then the Crown land that we released would not be about to be built on. The facts of life are that the housing market is a lagging indicator, but it is certainly ramping up supply.

Full transcript to all questions and answers.


Labour at 100, reborn or a cot case?

The Labour Party will be celebrating it’s 100th birthday this week. New Zealand, politics and the party have all changed hugely over the last century.

Colin James looks at this in his weekly column: Labour at 100: dotage or revitalisation?

There is global turmoil and the forces on Labour’s side of politics are divided. Answer: get together, to build a voice against a conservative coalition.

The year: 1916. Come to 2016: there is global turmoil and Labour and the Greens have got together to build a voice against a conservative coalition.

Is this book-end history or a phase? That is the question for those celebrating Labour’s centenary this week.

We won’t know whether the Labour-Green get together will have been successful until later next year.

What it seems to acknowledge though is that Labour on it’s own is a spent force.

On Friday a day-long seminar will include a keynote assessment of the 100 years by former historian, acute intellectual and formidable 1999-08 minister Michael Cullen.

Cullen was chief whip, then a minister in the 1984-90 government which, though it boosted social assistance, banned nuclear ships and Springbok tours and set us en route to a bicultural society — all true to Labour — ripped the party apart with un-Labour radical market-led economic reforms.

This compounded Sir Robert Muldoon’s 1970s pitch to “ordinary blokes” which siphoned off wage worker votes.

Since then, like social democratic parties in other liberal democracies, Labour has not worked out how to rebuild a broad social base.

Helen Clark’s and Cullen’s capable cabinet masked this erosion, helped by a credit-fuelled boom and skilful coalition management to creditable low-40s votes in 2002 and 2005.

Labour certainly seems to have lost it’s way, lost it’s mojo, lost capable leadership, and has lost the last three elections.

Hence Labour’s disastrous 25% vote in 2014. But, unlike National after its disaster in 2002, Labour chose not to do a root-and-branch shakeup.

Apart from frequently changing leaders, changing the way that leaders are selected effectively giving unions the deciding vote, changing their minds on past policies without replacing them with much, Labour has done little to shake themselves up.

Labour will take a step on Saturday afternoon with a special conference to adjust the list selection process to preferential membership-wide regional selections and a smaller-than-2014 committee to finalise the national list.

There is no suggestion — at least not officially — of a “man ban” of the sort dumped on the hapless David Shearer in 2013 to lift the proportion of women MPs.

But the 2017 election challenges go far beyond the list.

One is to get Andrew Little connecting. Little’s strength is that he is a straight-shooter. But communications team mistakes and his own political inexperience and need to score points have skewed his aim at times and sometimes the bullets have ricocheted. Examples: an unthought-through attack that caught up Jacinda Ardern’s (innocent) father and shining a media light on a “homeless” family that was actually renovating its house.

Little cannot out-Key Key. But he needs to out-Little Little.

The current Little has failed to fire up any enthusiasm in the party let alone in the wider voting public.

Unlike past leaders who distanced themselves from negative attack politics (they used others to do their dirty work) Little has taken it upon himself to be the party’s main hit man. It is far from attractive, and has been botched too often. There are currently two defamation proceedings against him.

Labour’s second 2017 challenge is to present a government-in-waiting. In 2011 and 2014 those who wanted a change of government had no visible alternative to vote for. Labour was too weak.

The deal with the Greens potentially provides that alternative. Little was bowled over by his reception at the Greens’ conference. Little and Green co-leader James Shaw have been doing some joint business briefings. (Shaw goes over better, some say.)   

By belatedly conceding Labour is not a 45% party and can’t do command performances as National can but must have a partner, Labour has changed the electoral game.

Whether Labour+Greens can win that changed game will depend in part on how convincing the coalition looks. There is a growing understanding on both sides that they will need three or more major joint — “coalition” — policies.

There is currently no sign of substantive joint policies.

And there remains a major problem anyway, Winston Peters, who with NZ First looks to be essential to make up the numbers and Peters will not do pre-election joint policies.

Plus the Peters-Green clash is unresolved. There is no sign of Peters working alongside Turei and Shaw.

But what about the longer-term? Is Labour now forever shackled to the Greens? Might the Greens even morph into the senior partner?

There are no signs of Greens growing enough to become the senior partner, so it would need Labour to decline substantially more for that to happen.

But a 2 to 1 or less power balance between Labour and Greens is totally new territory for Labour. There is little sign yet that that are willing to share power as much as the numbers suggest they need to.

 As in 1916, Labour in 2016 is in turbulent times with big global and societal changes underway that will test it to destruction — or revitalise it.

Unlike Australia, the UK and the US, New Zealand looks very stable politically. Unfortunately for Labour it is National that looks boringly steady.

In Australia, the UK and the US much of the turbulence is within the major parties. Turbulence has also been apparent within Labour here, although that seems to have settled down.

Perhaps next year’s election, and Labour’s fortunes, will be reliant on whether New Zealand voters choose to add to the political turmoil evident elsewhere, or end up preferring the status quo stability that is currently prevalent.

It will be another year or so before we know whether Labour can become born again progressives or are cot cases destined for a rest home.

Labour: average worker $100k Kiwisaver cut

Andrew Little and the Labour party is claiming that the National Government “will reduce the average worker’s retirement savings by $100,000 over their working life”. They don’t seem to have thought this attack through very well and offer no solutions.

The claimed loss is due to reduced Government handouts for Kiwisaver. What the Government has been doing since Helen Clark and Michael Cullen were in power is tax workers, and then give some workers some of that back in a subsidy that the was tied up until they reached retirement age (currently 65).

New analysis shows National’s constant cuts to KiwiSaver will reduce the average worker’s retirement savings by $100,000 over their working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says

“The former Labour Government launched KiwiSaver nine years ago today to boost the country’s savings and ensure all New Zealanders have a nest egg in their retirement.

“National has gutted KiwiSaver.

They haven’t taken any money off workers or their Kiwisaver accounts.

Since coming to office it has made five separate cuts to the scheme:

• Taxed employer contributions

• Halved the maximum Member Tax Credit from $1042 to $521

• Halved the Member Tax Credit rate from $1 for every dollar saved to 50c

• Reduced employee/employer contributions from 4 per cent to 3 per cent

• Abolished the kick-start payment

So everyone in Kiwisaver is still getting handouts, they have just been reduced. In part this is because the uptake of Kiwisaver was well ahead of predictions and the cost to the Government was much greater than expected.

“Analysis by the Parliamentary Library (attached) shows a worker on the average wage joining the scheme today will have total contributions of $3500 after their first year. That would have been $6700 without these cuts.

According to that under the original terms of Kiwisaver they would have been given back $3200 in the first year. That would be tied up until their retirement.

“After their first year, the average worker misses out on $2,200 a year in contributions. That adds up to $100,000 the average worker will miss out on if they retire after 45 years’ work. That’s a big slice of their nest egg.

And it amounts to a big slice of taxpayer money when totalled up over all those getting Kiwisaver subsidies.

This press release from Little is only criticism of National, it doesn’t offer any alternative policy from Labour.

There is a post on this at The Standard – National costs you $100,000 from your retirement fund. Wayne comments:

Lets assume the calculations are correct. It is obviously true that if the taxpayer subsidy for each Kiwisaver account is reduced, the final amount saved in each account will be less.

I recall the reason why the changes were made, which was primarily because the uptake rate was much higher then anticipated by Treasury in part due to the size of the taxpayer subsidy. It also meant the cost to the govt finances was much higher then Treasury estimated, and at a time when we were in the middle of the GFC. This meant money being extracted from the economy and put into long term savings at the very time when current consumption was the need, or in other words the requirement was economic stimulus.

So Labour has now done the calculations of the impact of the changes for an account that lasts 49 years, fair enough. But it does raise the obvious question, will Labour restore all the subsidies for KiwiSaver, at a cost to govt expenditure of probably around $500 million, maybe more?

Ropata responded:

Is that what you tell yourself when cheering on the theft of billions from hard working kiwis?

FFS you RWNJs are short sighted idiots and have fucked over NZ time and time again

Theft of billions? All workers are taxed. Those who can afford Kiwisaver deductions get handouts from the Government – they get some taxpayer’s money back.


It’s funny how all the Nat Party policies have a short term benefit to the wealthiest 1% and a long term cost to the long suffering NZ taxpayer.

Kiwisaver handouts benefit probably the wealthiest 50% the most. Reducing the subsidies reduces that.

National must answer for their regressive policies that have worsened inequality in New Zealand and thrown thousands into poverty. that is the “real question” IM(NS)HO

Kiwisaver subsidies have nothing to do with the poverty issue, except that money that could potentially be spent on the poorest is benefiting middle and upper income earners – and Little and Ropata are complaining that this has been reduced!

Andrew Little:

“Figures released this week show growing inequality under this Government. National’s KiwSaver cuts are making inequality worse by making it harder for middle New Zealand to save.”

Kiwisaver does nothing to address the poorest – including those who are already retired and ineligible, those not working and ineligible, and the poorest workers who can’t afford to tie some of their earnings up for decades in Kiwisaver.

This is a poorly thought through attack by Little that offers no solutions.




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