Nation: Willie Jackson on Māori employment

Willie Jackson on Newshub Nation: Employment Minister Willie Jackson talks about his plans to get young people into work and how an economic slowdown could affect the Government’s goal to reduce unemployment to four percent.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says he would like to get Māori unemployment down to 5%

“There’s statistics and then there are statistics” – Willie Jackson on referring to the unemployment stats for New Zealanders as a whole vs Māori.

Willie Jackson says it is appropriate for Meka Whaitiri to still be co-chair of the Māori caucus

PG raises eyebrows.

Welfare overhaul announcement ‘imminent’

Jacinda Ardern has said that an announcement on aims to overhaul welfare delivery is ‘imminent’, but it will rely on yet another working group so any decisions are likely to be quite a way down the track.

Some (Greens especially) have proposed a much more generous ‘no questions asked’ welfare payment system.

The Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement stated:

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

That is toned down from what Metiria Turei promoted before crashing during last year’s election campaign, in a policy labelled ‘Mending the Safety Net’:

We will:

  • Increase all core benefits by 20 percent
  • Increase the amount people can earn before their benefit is cut
  • Increase the value of Working For Families for all families
  • Create a Working For Families Children’s Credit of $72 a week
  • Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits
  • Reduce the bottom tax rate from 10.5 percent to 9 percent on income under $14,000
  • Introduce a new top tax rate of 40 percent on income over $150,000 per year.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $17.75 in the first year and keep raising it until it’s 66 percent of the average wage.

Our welfare system should provide effective support for people who need it, while they need it. The social safety net should stop families from falling into poverty and guarantee a basic, liveable income. That’s what it means to live in a decent, compassionate society.

Punishing people through benefit sanctions, cuts, and investigations has not worked. Rather than giving people ‘incentives’, it traps them in a cycle of poverty and puts children’s wellbeing at risk. Children suffer when the welfare system punishes their parents, and in the long term, so does society. It is never ok for the government to use poverty or the threat of poverty as a weapon.

The Green Party’s plan will ensure the people on the highest incomes pay their fair share and those that need help are treated with respect and dignity.

That last paragraph looks like code for a major redistribution – one could wonder if it aims at ‘fair share’ being equal share, no matter what work one does or doesn’t do.

Stuff: Welfare overhaul working group details leak out online

Details of the “imminent” Government overhaul of the welfare system have emerged in online job listings.

The job listings show the Government is setting up a welfare overhaul “expert advisory group” supported by a secretariat of officials from different departments.

The listings for a project manager and strategic communications advisor were posted in March of this year on the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) website.

In the job description MSD write “the Government has committed, through the Labour/Greens Confidence and Supply Agreement, to overhaul the Welfare System. This work will be led by an independent group of Experts, supported by a Secretariat of officials from MSD, the Treasury and Inland Revenue.”

The listings have emerged as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said an announcement on the welfare overhaul is “imminent”.

Ardern has made clear that some sanctions would remain after the overhaul.

She said a culture change was needed at Work and Income, but acknowledged that “by and large” case managers did a good job.

“Culture change is difficult. We are coming in after nine years of there being an expectation that there be a singular focus on reducing benefit numbers and of course we want people in work, we want people who are seeking work to be able to find work, but I think it has tipped over into a space where it actually denying people who need help the help they need,” Ardern said.

This reform could be a real test of Labour versus Green aims.

Greens want a radical change to generous state assistance as a right and a choice. This may meet some resistance from people who pay tax, but is likely to be supported by those who can’t work, and also by those who don’t want to work.

If I was offered the option of a comfortable income from the Government I would be very tempted to retire early.

We already have sustained high immigration because we don’t have enough New Zealand workers for a number of industries. If we have more of a choice to not work would higher immigration to compensate be acceptable?

Welfare reform is a big and contentious issue.

There is no doubt that the current system has serious flaws and is punitive, but it will be difficult – and potentially very expensive – to make major changes.

For the Greens to get what they want it will involve much more than welfare reform – their wish list would require…

  • welfare reform
  • tax and revenue reform
  • employment reform
  • serious reconsideration of immigration

…and probably more

If it ended up how some indicate they want it too it would involve a radical shift towards virtual socialism.

Reserve Bank must now consider employment alongside inflation

A new Policy Targets Agreement requires Reserve Bank “monetary policy to be conducted so that it contributes to supporting maximum levels of sustainable employment within the economy” as well as still keeping inflation between one and three percent.

I have no idea how the Reserve Bank will influence employment levels.

It could be tricky if the objectives clash.

Grant Robertson: New PTA requires Reserve Bank to consider employment alongside price stability mandate


Finance Minister Grant Robertson and incoming Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr today signed a new Policy Targets Agreement (PTA) setting out specific targets for maintaining price stability and a requirement for employment outcomes to be considered in the conduct of monetary policy.

The new PTA takes effect from 27 March 2018, when Adrian Orr starts his five-year term as Governor. The new PTA has to be signed under the existing provisions of the Reserve Bank Act 1989, which has price stability as the Reserve Bank’s primary objective.

The agreement continues the requirement for the Reserve Bank to keep future annual CPI inflation between 1 and 3 percent over the medium-term, with a focus on keeping future inflation near the 2 percent mid-point.

The new PTA now also requires monetary policy to be conducted so that it contributes to supporting maximum levels of sustainable employment within the economy.

“The Reserve Bank Act is nearly 30 years old. While the single focus on price stability has generally served New Zealand well, there have been significant changes to the New Zealand economy and to monetary policy practices since it was enacted,” Grant Robertson said.

“The importance of monetary policy as a tool to support the real, productive, economy has been evolving and will be recognised in New Zealand law by adding employment outcomes alongside price stability as a dual mandate for the Reserve Bank, as seen in countries like the United States, Australia and Norway.

“Work on legislation to codify a dual mandate is underway. In the meantime, the new PTA will ensure the conduct of monetary policy in maintaining price stability will also contribute to employment outcomes.”

A Bill will be introduced to Parliament in the coming months to implement Cabinet’s decisions on recommendations from Phase 1 of the Review. As well as legislating for the dual mandate, this will include the creation of a committee for monetary policy decisions.

“Currently, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has sole authority for monetary policy decisions under the Act. While clear institutional accountability was important for establishing the credibility of the inflation-targeting system when the Act was introduced, there has been greater recognition in recent decades of the benefits of committee decision-making structures,” Grant Robertson said.

“In practice, the Reserve Bank’s decision-making practices for monetary policy have adapted to reflect this, with an internal Governing Committee collectively making decisions on monetary policy. However, the Act has not been updated accordingly.”

The Government has agreed a range of five to seven voting members for a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for decision-making. The majority of members will be Reserve Bank internal staff, and a minority will be external members. The Reserve Bank Governor will be the chair.

 

Reserve Bank Governor-Designate, Adrian Orr, said that the PTA recognises the importance of monetary policy to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“The PTA appropriately retains the Reserve Bank’s focus on a price stability objective. The Bank’s annual consumer price inflation target remains at 1 to 3 percent, with the ongoing focus on the mid-point of 2 percent.

“Price stability offers enduring benefits for New Zealanders’ living standards, especially for those on low and fixed incomes. It guards against the erosion of the value of our money and savings, and the misallocation of investment.”

Mr Orr said that the PTA also recognises the role of monetary policy in contributing to supporting maximum sustainable employment, as will be captured formally in an amendment Bill in coming months.

“This PTA provides a bridge in that direction under the constraints of the current Act. The Reserve Bank’s flexible inflation targeting regime has long included employment and output variability in its deliberations on interest rate decisions. What this PTA does is make it an explicit expectation that the Bank accounts for that consideration transparently. Maximum sustainable employment is determined by a wide range of economic factors beyond monetary policy.”

Mr Orr said that he welcomes the intention to use a monetary policy committee decision-making group, including both Bank staff and a minority of external members.

Opposition response to workplace bill

The Government has announced changes they will make to workplace and employment legislation – see Workplace legislation announced.

Some of the proposed changes undo legislation introduced by the last government in an employer/employee  flip flop ritual between National and Labour.

Opposition spokesperson Amy Adams responds:


Employment changes will reduce job opportunities

The Labour-led Government’s employment law changes announced today can only slow down New Zealand’s high-performing job market, National Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“These changes will only reduce job opportunities and wage growth, especially for those vulnerable workers on the edges of the labour market. They also mean workers will have less flexibility to get their job done,” Ms Adams says.

“The law as it stands encourages all businesses, small and large, to grow their workforces and take a chance on new workers and long-term unemployed people.

“While Labour have now partially backed down and allowed small businesses to continue with 90 day trials, they’ve still closed those trials off to the bigger businesses that take on many of these vulnerable workers. Those workers will have fewer opportunities.

“If 90 day trials are okay for small businesses, then why shouldn’t they apply to larger businesses as well?”

Ms Adams says that with New Zealand’s world-leading performance in job creation over the last few years, the onus was on the government to justify the need for the reforms.

“Under current employment law New Zealand has added a mammoth 245,000 jobs in the last two years and has the third highest employment rate in the developed world. Nearly 80 per cent of New Zealand workers are in full-time jobs and wages have been growing at twice the rate of inflation.

“These changes will only damage that track record. So why are they actually needed?

“New Zealanders will rightly suspect they are a random union wish list. People will be asking exactly how much influence these unions have in the current Government.

“These reforms will further damage business confidence and take New Zealand backwards. They will only disrupt New Zealand’s settled and successful employment law.

“That’s not good news for jobs or wages for New Zealanders.”

Irish truck drivers south to fill shortage

Truck driving is another occupation in New Zealand that faces shortages of workers. Firms are trying to recruit drivers from Ireland.

Construction, horticulture, viticulture and dairy farming also have trouble attracting local workers – and while wage rates may be a factor I think it’s far from the only reason why we have worker shortages alongside a stubborn level of unemployment.

Irish Times:  New Zealand seeks to recruit 1,000 Irish truck drivers

Irish long distance drivers are being invited to travel a very long distance to get work. New Zealand is looking to recruit up to 1,000 truck drivers from overseas as it cannot fill the vacancies internally.

It takes three years to qualify as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver in New Zealand and many young Kiwis are not attracted to the job.

Recruitment firm Canstaff is offering a new relocation package to overseas heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from Ireland to fill the skills shortage. In some cases haulage companies will pay the cost of flights to New Zealand.

Irish truck drivers can earn between €15 and €20 an hour in New Zealand. In Ireland the rate is closer to €12 an hour, according to Canstaff managing director Matt Jones.

Mr Jones said he had spent a lot of time in Ireland in 2011 and 2012 recruiting construction workers to rebuild Christchurch which had been badly damaged in an earthquake.

The average reported salary for a New Zealand truck driver last year was NZ$51,200 (€31,000), but wages have gone up by 20 per cent to attract the right candidates.

“Despite Government initiatives to attract more heavy vehicle drivers, the shortage has been ongoing and a more immediate solution is needed to keep New Zealand’s wheels of commerce turning.”

RNZ:  Trucking firms forced to go offshore to search for drivers

A recruitment agency is planning to import truck drivers from overseas because local young people aren’t interested in that line of work.

Simon Reid owns a company in Northland that maintains about nine trucks. Business is pretty good, but he’s got a problem.

“There is quite a problem with attracting drivers to the industry. It’s not going to be something that goes away, simply because the government isn’t interested in helping us.

“They don’t see us as being a critical problem in the bigger picture of the economy.”

Recruitment firm Canstaff’s managing director Matt Jones thought he knew why.

“It’s probably not sexy enough for that [younger] generation.

“There’s a bit of graft in it, a bit of dirt under the fingernails … the millennial generation enjoy looking at a computer screen. They don’t mind driving a truck on a computer screen, but doing it in real life is a little bit different.”

Long haul truck driving often means having to spend time away from home.

Truck driving is a fairly lucrative job – it starts at about $50,000 a year, hits six figures at the top levels, and doesn’t require an expensive tertiary degree.

That doesn’t sound bad – money doesn’t seem to be the main reason for the driver shortage.

All you need to get the wheels rolling is a full driver’s licence, and one of four types of special class licence – which you can sit straight away, after having your full licence for six months.

The Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga offers courses in heavy truck driving safety. The group leader of those courses, Dean Colville, said enrolments had hit a low point.

“This year we’ve had the lowest numbers ever. Normally we run classes of about 20, and this year they’ve been down to about 14, and as low as six in some cases.”

Mr Colville said the problem was the six-month wait to get a full drivers licence, which meant high school graduates could not get a job in the industry immediately after high school.

A six month wait for a full license doesn’t seem to be a big issue. Most careers take some training and time after you leave school.

Were seem to have quite a few unemployed people who are quite fussy about the sort of work they get. And there’s some that aren’t fussed on work at all.

These sorts of issues can be complex, but the truck driver shortage adds to the unemployment and immigration debates.

Seymour v. English on employee drug use

Bill English has been widely criticised for his comments on drug use being an impediment to employment of New Zealanders – it is an issue but English has not communicated it well (and of course media and opponents have highlighted narrow parts of what he has said.

See PM accused of telling ‘stories’ to justify immigration

ACT’s David Seymour suggests that English and some of his opponents “missed the point”.

Drug and alcohol use and lack of incentive to take on jobs that may be ‘less than optimal’ is more a symptom than a cause of entrenched unemployment problems.

Seymour has put out this press release:

Unemployment not caused by employers OR drug users

The government and opposition have both missed the point by blaming unemployment on drug users and immigration, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Employers are turning to migrant workers not because Kiwis are drug addicts, and not because migrants are cheaper,” says Mr Seymour. “The real issue is a fundamental lack of basic life skills among local available employees.

“The most obvious issue is literacy. 2016’s Half-Yearly Employers’ Survey from the EMA showed a massive 43% of respondents voicing concerns about poor completion of workplace documents. And the most recent Employers’ Survey showed that 36% of respondents are dissatisfied with the work readiness of school leavers. And 65% say there is, or will be, a skills shortage in their industry.

“ACT has always sought to address these fundamental issues through education. Partnership Schools have the potential to upskill those students let down by the state system, which is why we’ll be pushing to open more after the election.

“This is also why ACT announced over the weekend that we would give prisoners discounts off sentences if they gain functional literacy. 60-70 per cent of prisoners lack the literacy ability to understand the road code or an employment contract, so it’s no wonder 48 per cent are back inside within four years.”

There’s a bit of political opportunism trying to turn the issue into something that coincidentally ACT policies can resolve, but Seymour does have a point.

A lot of people who take up seasonal work in agriculture, horticulture and viticulture can in fact be better educated young people wanting to fund further education.

One of the biggest problems with the long term unemployed is that some of them couldn’t be bothered or didn’t fit in with available education and have gone on to not be bothered with or fit in with available work.

This can be due to a lifetime of mis-learning.

Perhaps the focus should be less on drug testing of prospective employees and more on the drug (and alcohol) use of prospective parents who become responsible for intergenerational education and employment problems.

But this won’t be an easy election campaign fix.

Little on immigration, jobs and drugs

Andrew Little has just been interviewed on RNZ. While critical of Bill English’s comments about drugs causing employment problems – “It all starts to look like an excuse for the government not to do anything about our young unemployed” – he is not against drug testing nor against immigration.

Little actually adds anecdotal evidence of employers needing to know if potential employees are drug safe.

Little slams the Government but in part doesn’t disagree with aspects.

These aren’t simple issues.

English repeats employment drug problems

Last year before he was Prime Minister Bill English caused a stir when he suggested that some Kiwis were‘Pretty damned hopeless’ – English when it came to trying to get work.  This came up in Question Time in Parliament in April 2016.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by the statements made to a meeting of Federated Farmers that there is “a cohort of Kiwis who now can’t get a licence because they can’t read and write properly and don’t look to be employable—you know, basically, young males” and that a lot of Kiwis available for work are, in his words, “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I welcomed the presence of the member who strode to the front of the Federated Farmers meeting and sat there showing complete attention to everything I said, for about 20 minutes.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by his statement that one of the reasons why immigration is “a bit more permissive” is that, in his words, Kiwis are “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think the member is mixing a couple of different statements there. I referred to the common—[Interruption] Well, the Government is at the sharp edge of this every day, and I referred to the common response from New Zealand employers that many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered. If the member has not heard that from dozens of New Zealand employers, he is out of touch.

In a media conference yesterday English said he had anecdotal evidence of similar things, including drug use being a common impediment to gaining employment. This was in response to questions about record immigration numbers.

RNZ: Employers still struggling to hire NZers due to drug use – PM

The government is still hearing from employers who are struggling to find enough New Zealanders to fill job vacancies, in many cases because they would not pass a drug test, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Mr English was talking about the latest migration figures, which show a record run of people coming to New Zealand to live or visit in the year to January.

Last year the prime minister at the time, John Key, said he continually heard from employers frustrated with New Zealanders’ work ethic and drug problems.

Mr English said he heard the same thing about two to three times a week.

“One of the hurdles these days is just passing the drug test … Under workplace safety, you can’t have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can’t pass that test.”

His comments were based on anecdotal evidence, he said.

“People telling me they open for applications, they get people turning up and it’s hard to get someone to be able to pass the test – it’s just one example.

“So look if you get around the stories, you’ll hear lots of stories – some good, some not so good – about Kiwis’ willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available.”

Mr English said the government could not do much to address this particular problem.

“Particularly if these are younger people who are in every other respect capable of finding a job.”

He said the government tended to concentrate on keeping the most at-risk young people on track.

“Getting qualifications, getting them to the start line for employment – drug issues are a bit broader than that … it’s quite a challenge when it comes to employment, more so than it used to be because it used to be quite acceptable to employ someone who was a regular drug user but now under workplace safety [rules] you just can’t do it.”

Mr English said exceptions should not be made for people who were on drugs but who would otherwise be fit for the job, as that could not only put them at risk, but also their colleagues.

This is only a part of the problems getting Kiwi workers but it will no doubt get the most attention.

Upston, Corrections and ‘social investment’

Louise Upston is keen to make a difference to prison numbers and re-offending rates by applying ‘social investment’ principals – spending more money to reduce prisoner recidivism and therefore reduce crime and prisoner numbers and therefore reduce prison costs and the costs of crime to families and communities and the country.

Prior to Bill English’s reshuffle it was suggested by a number of pundits that Upston, a Minister outside of Cabinet, was at risk of demotion. So it was a surprise to some that she was promoted into Cabinet.

Upston was notably given the Corrections portfolio, but her other responsibilities may also be significant – she remains Associate Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment and picks up Associate Minister of Education plus Associate Minister of Primary Industries.

Herald: Corrections Minister: my views have changed

One of the surprises of Prime Minister Bill English’s Cabinet reshuffle was handing the challenging and important Corrections portfolio from Judith Collins to Taupo MP Louise Upston.

Upston told the Herald that the social investment work – to be headed by Justice Minister Amy Adams – would be central to work in the Corrections portfolio. That meant investing in rehabilitation and other programmes to try and cut reoffending rates.

“If you think about social investment – this is the opportunity to interrupt and really break that cycle, which is something I’m really excited about.

“We will continue to have a focus on making sure our communities are safe. But also, our continued focus will be on making sure that where taxpayers money is spent, it is spent wisely and getting the outcomes that people expect.

The outcome in this area is around reoffending rates. It is complex, it is challenging, and I’m looking forward to it.”

It is certainly complex and challenging, and there are no quick fixes. But if the Government invests more (time and money) into addressing the causes of crime, and is more effective at rehabilitating prisoners, then we should see improvements over time.

Upston has less than a year until the election to start making more of a difference, and there’s no guarantee she will still be Corrections Minister after that – and also no guarantee National will still be in power.

She will need help from English and new Finance Minister Steven Joyce as it will cost more money initially.

Today, she said her experience as an MP meant some of her views on law and order had changed.

I would hope that MPs would learn from their experiences and be prepared to change their views. They are able to become much better informed than the average person.

“And some of that has been, actually, what I have seen in Tongariro [prison]. And one of the real standouts for me was a visit to the Maori Focus Unit and to, first of all, see the enormous dedication of the Corrections staff…but also then in the discussions with the inmates for them to see they had quite a different future as a result of the changes that we were making.

“Yep, I do think if someone has done a crime, they do the time. But we also need to make sure that when they come out that they are better than when they went in, and more importantly they have greater opportunities for them and their families.”

Key things that need to be addressed are addictions and drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and for many prisoners fundamental education such as literacy and numeracy (a high number of prisoners have failed badly in education) as well as employment skills.

“If I look at my other portfolios – Associate Education and Associate Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment – the Prime Minister signalled to me that he wants me to continue my focus on trades training, which links back very nicely to Corrections.”

Those Associate portfolios have an important association with Corrections and rehabilitation.

But it will be difficult getting more money allocated for crime prevention and prisoner rehabilitation when increasing prisoner numbers require substantially funds immediately in order to house the prisoners.

In October, the Government announced plans to cope with a booming prisoner population including a 1500-bed prison on the current Waikeria Prison site in Waikato.

Those changes will hit the Government’s books by an extra $2.5 billion over about five years.

Wouldn’t it be good if that sort of money was spent on reducing prisoner numbers rather than building more prisons.

Labour’s youth employment costings

Labour have laid an official complaint with TVNZ over coverage of the announcement of their “Ready for Work” policy on Sunday night. Phil Twyford was very grumpy about this yesterday.

See Labour lay complaint over coverage of policy costings.

Labour has released detailed costings to justify their estimate that giving 10,000 youth per year six months full time employment would cost about $60. When pushed for details Labour said that they based their costings on an average of 4 months rather than the full six months for each person.

Their costings must have been provided directly to media, I can’t find anything on their website Press releases, and their Factsheet: Ready for Work doesn’t provide these facts, still stating:

Labour will:

  • give unemployed young people a job for six months doing work of public value, so they can gain work experience and avoid long-term unemployment.

With an estimated 10,000 participants per year, Ready for Work will cost $60m a year.

Stuff: Labour discloses assumptions behind under-fire youth work scheme costs

Labour has released detailed costings of its plan to offer long-term unemployed youth six months paid work, after the Government questioned the accuracy of its $60m estimate.

It followed the party’s campaign manager Phil Twyford getting into a public row on Twitter after he accused some media of bias, a lapse of professional standards and a “hatchet job” on the policy.

Labour is particularly sensitive to coverage that could undermine its reputation for financial management, which it sees as crucial to its chances in next year’s election.

The policy was unveiled in leader Andrew Little’s speech to Labour’s centenary annual conference in Auckland on Sunday. 

He said the “Ready for Work” policy would offer all young people who had been on the Jobseeker Allowance for six months, full-time employment for six months at the minimum wage of $15.25.

Labour has assumed 10,000 would be involved each year, and it costed the policy at $60 million a year.

But in response to media queries, Labour has since disclosed that was based on an average time on the scheme of four months, not the full six months.

On Monday, Little’s office released details of how it had costed the scheme, in a move to rebut the criticisms.

It shouldn’t have come to media inquiries and a row over coverage,and a belated release of details.

Labour have been caught out on their costings in the past and should have been thoroughly prepared – in fact they should have detailed actual facts on their factsheet, not just vague and misleading  indications.

They showed the net after-tax cost of employing someone on the minimum wage for six months, rather than paying them the benefit, would be about $8700.

The available data from Work and Income suggested that over the course of a year there are about 12,500 young people who have been receiving Job Seeker benefits for six months or more – from which Labour assumed 10,000 would be covered by its scheme, because the rest would likely find a job or go into employment, training or formal education.

That would give an-all up cost of $87m a year, but Labour said that would be too simplistic and incorrect because not everyone who started on the Ready for Work programme would finish it.

It had assumed, on the basis of evidence of how long people stayed on Jobseeker benefits, that on average those on the scheme would spend four months each on it. While most would complete the full six months, many would not.

After adding $3m for the net costs to the Ministry of Social Development it came to a final figure of $59m a year – which it had rounded to $60m.

What still isn’t clear is what provisions have been made for the administration of this.

Employing and supervising and training 10,000 people would require hundreds of support staff, if not into thousands. This would add millions of dollars to costs.

From Labour’s fact sheet:

It is anticipated many will work on Department of Conservation projects. DoC is struggling to meet its goals in the face of funding and staffing cuts. The area of land where pests are being controlled is falling and only 56% of tracks are maintained up to DoC standards. Councils and NGOs, too, have many important environmental and community projects that they would like to do but cannot do because the labour cost is prohibitive, such as riparian planting.

This won’t all be happing in the cities where most unemployed youth live, so there also could be substantial additional costs for travel and accommodation.

Giving youth employment experience is a good aim.

Perhaps some of the youths could be employed researching and documenting party policies so pertinent facts are readily available when the policies are announced.