Labour allege English misled Parliament

Not surprisingly Labour is continuing their pressure on Bill English over his responses to the Todd Barclay isssue.

For some reason Grant Robertson is fronting this:  Bill English misleads Parliament on Police statement

Bill English’s attempt to restore his damaged credibility over the Todd Barclay affair has backfired after his claim to have “reported” Mr Barclay’s actions to Police has proven not to be true, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson.

“Yesterday in Parliament, Bill English claimed in response to a question from Andrew Little that he had ‘reported to Police’ the information he had that Todd Barclay had recorded his staff member. In fact Mr English had only spoken to Police after they had requested him to do so when they became aware that he had this information.

“Today, Mr English has been forced to admit that he did not initiate contact with Police. In Parliament Gerry Brownlee speaking on the Prime Minister’s behalf said he had been ‘imprecise’ in his answer.

“That is not good enough, and I am writing to the Speaker today to ask him to assess if there has been a breach of Parliamentary privilege.

“Bill English was trying to make out to the New Zealand public that he had done the right thing when he found out what Todd Barclay had done. That is not true. He only spoke to Police because they requested it.

“This fits with the whole way Bill English has dealt with this matter. He not told New Zealanders the truth about his involvement, and he has allowed Todd Barclay to mislead the public as well.

“New Zealanders need to know that their leaders will act honestly, ethically and with integrity. Bill English has failed that test,” says Grant Robertson.

This seems a fairly lame attempt to me, playing with semantics. Surely there are stronger grounds with which to hold English to account.

Robertson versus English

Following a succession of attacks on Bill English in Question Time yesterday Grant Robertson had a go in the General Debate.

This may sum up Labour’s reaction to the Todd Barclay saga.

GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central): For the last 18 months, the current Prime Minister of New Zealand has been at the centre of a cover-up. He has known that one of his MPs covertly taped one of his staff members, and that that MP went on to mislead, dissemble, and not tell the truth about what had happened.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand knew this. He knew it from the beginning of last year, and he has done nothing to bring that member of Parliament to account. What is more, when the Prime Minister of New Zealand has been asked directly about what he knew about what Todd Barclay had done, he has not told the truth.

On 1 March last year Bill English was asked on the radio what he knew of the reasons for staff resignations in Todd Barclay’s office, and whether he had personally spoken to any of those staff. Mr English answered: “No.” That was on 1 March.

On 21 February, we now know that the Prime Minister of New Zealand texted the then electorate chair of the National Party in Clutha-Southland to tell that man, Stuart Davie, that Todd Barclay had indeed recorded his staff member in a covert manner.

The Prime Minister has not told New Zealanders the truth about what happened in Todd Barclay’s office. He has dissembled, he has avoided answering questions, and he has failed the basic test of a Prime Minister in this country.

Honesty is the very least that New Zealanders can expect from their politicians, and all the more so from their Prime Minister, and Mr English has completely failed on that account.

When he was given the opportunity to talk to police in April last year, he told them that Mr Barclay had indeed told him that he had recorded Glenys Dickson. When he then had the opportunity to see that document, that police statement, released as part of an overall police Official Information Act release, Mr English made sure his statement was withheld.

This is not a Prime Minister who wants to be open or transparent. This is not a Prime Minister who was being honest with New Zealanders about what has happened.

It makes no difference that Todd Barclay has left today. This is about Bill English and Bill English’s credibility to be Prime Minister, because for politicians it is not about what happens when something is exposed by the media and what you then do. It is about whether you do the right thing at the time that you know about it.

It is not a sign of credibility to come forward only when you are being exposed by the media.

It is not a sign of credibility or leadership to change your mind within 3 or 4 hours yesterday because you worked out you had been caught out and found out. Those are not the actions of a real leader or a Prime Minister, and they are not the actions of someone whom New Zealanders can trust.

The Prime Minister has broken the basic bond with New Zealand people of the trust that they should have in him. He did not tell the truth about what he knew. He stood by an MP who has told lies.

He has allowed a staff member of 16 years to be bullied and covertly recorded out of her job, and even yesterday he wanted the issue to go away instead of actually fronting up to New Zealanders about what he and his protégé have done.

This is not a leader. This is a person who has become Prime Minister, and now that he is in that role he is cruelly exposed to New Zealanders as someone who does not have the fundamental capabilities and attributes that they need in their Prime Minister—that is, that he would be straight-up with New Zealanders, that he would show leadership and deal with people who break the law, rather than try to cover it up.

The last 24 hours have taught New Zealanders a lesson. This is a squalid shambles, as the Fairfax editorial said today, and, as other commentators have said, this has now cast great doubt on Bill English’s credibility.

At this election it will be about a contest between a leader in Andrew Little who is straight-up and tells New Zealanders how it is, and Bill English, who has lied on behalf of his MP.

Dear Mr Robertson

I don’t know if it’s the done thing for MPs to publish constituent letters…

…but this is an example of what they can receive.

Not just to the English language.

Opposition floundering after budget

The Opposition has been left floundering after National encroached further into the centre with last weeks budget, which included substantial tax cuts and housing assistance.

Andrew Little in particular has had trouble responding, but the Greens also caused some opposition embarrassment after they voted for the family tax package while Labour opposed it.

Little has tried to criticise small parts of the package, unconvincingly. His first attempt to oppose question Bill English over the budget in Parliament was underwhelming – see Little versus English on the budget.

Vernon Small writes: Opposition all at sea after Joyce’s ‘non-election year’ Budget

The Budget was a lot of things, though a visionary document wasn’t really one of them.

However, before we get too high and mighty about the absence of the “vision thing”, it’s worth bearing in mind what it did achieve – especially with an election looming.

Because it melded income assistance, a billion and a half of tax cuts, a side dish of debt reduction, a 3 per cent growth outlook, a big infrastructure spend and some extra – though probably not enough for many – for stretched public services.

Most spectacularly it seems to have thrown the Opposition – but for Winston Peters’ usual chutzpah – into a counter-productive spin.

Labour leader Andrew Little’s iPad-assisted first speech was a tame and lame affair, which wound up before its allotted time.

See Andrew Little’s budget response.

The Greens managed to undermine the sense of unity they have been so keen to build with Labour, through a Memorandum of Understanding and their Budget Responsibility Rules (BRRs), by voting for the centre-piece of Steven Joyce’s Budget without discussing it with Labour or giving them any prior warning.

This appeared to breech their MoU:

2 (d) We agree to a “no surprises” policy that means we give each other prior notice and the details of major announcements and speeches. This includes matters where we disagree.

3 (b) We support each other’s right to express alternative views, whilst acknowledging our responsibility to discuss our position with each other before public debate.


The way the parties voted on the incomes package was largely academic, since their speeches made their positions clear. But for powerful symbolic and tactical reasons they simply had to vote the same way.

It was a memorial to misunderstanding and a failure of political management not to get those two simple ducks in a row. And it was a blunder the Government exploited during the Budget debate, and will continue to exploit to exhaustion.

Outside of election the budget is the biggest political event of the year (of any year), so Labour and the Greens should have been prepared for it and how they would deal with it jointly.

At a more fundamental level the Budget’s family income package seemed to put Labour into a quandary.

Little has long stressed Labour’s tax plan was to move on housing and speculation ahead of the election – and part of that was his keynote speech to the party congress earlier in May – while leaving any major changes for consideration by a post-election working group review.

In simple terms, it was an attempt to inoculate the party against any charges that it planned to bring in new and higher taxes to fund its spending plans.

The surplus, debt and fiscal parameters, set up by the BRRs with the Greens, were designed to underpin that message.

And then along came Joyce’s Budget, which seemed to throw Little off course on Tuesday.

In an interview with Susie Ferguson on Radio NZ – that he consistently seems to fluff – he got down into the weeds, discussing small groups who would miss out or get less than others, rather than concentrating on Labour’s main attack theme – that the Budget increased inequality and put far too much into tax cuts and far too little into income support at lower levels.

By that morning’s media stand-up in Parliament he was tighter on message, but then he threw the party’s tax strategy into doubt by failing to rule out other tax increases.

Little has got better at reciting well rehearsed party lines, staying on message and diverting to his messages, but he has not mastered the art of thinking on his feet during interviews.

Whether this is a fundamental inability, or a lack of depth and breadth of knowledge, or a lack of confidence, it is seriously impeding his attempts to look like a credible Prime Minister-in-waiting.

At that point Joyce – he who denied an election-year motive in his Budget – and Bill English must have steepled their fingers and reclined their office chairs with satisfied smiles. They had all the ammunition they wanted to paint a picture of a divided Opposition with a waffly stance on tax.

Labour has the opportunity to right the ship in the next few weeks, when it releases its own families package-cum-alternative Budget.

It will have to be a thorough, well thought through policy response, expressed clearly. Little will need to improve markedly, especially in being prepared to respond to the inevitable questions and examination of the policy.

A stream of frontbenchers for Labour have criticised the accommodation supplement as evidence of the Government’s failed housing policy, but they are likely to wave that through.

Their attacks on the Working for Families element suggest they will proffer a big lift there.

But it is not just a case of unwinding and redistributing the $2 billion of tax threshold changes.

The party has already committed to increasing paid parental leave, more police, the early resumption of payments to the Cullen superannuation fund and three years of fee-free tertiary study at a cost of $1.2 billion by 2025. (There is some more cash available from Labour’s slower debt repayment plan, but that is further down the track.)

Labour have so far avoided specifics in policies that will cost a lot of money, to an extent understandably prior to knowing what would be in the budget.

Ideally they would have been prepared for a quick and comprehensive counter to the budget. Instead they seem to have been woefully unprepared.

Now Labour will have to hope the budget tax, housing and benefit package doesn’t grow on voters as something worthwhile for many to expect.

They will have to come up with a credible alternative that attracts support, and one that is extremely thorough because it is certain that it will be examined and critiqued minutely.

And Little and Grant Robertson will have to be very well prepared to answer and explain thoroughly and clear and unambiguously.

Selling their key policy against a fairly well received budget will be a real test of their abilities and capabilities. It will be much more difficult for them than sniping at government policies and plans.

Labour in particular have given the impression they have been left floundering “all at sea” by the budget. They have a big challenge to be seen to be on firm fiscal footing.

Grant Robertson on the budget


Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson keeps his criticism up of Thursday’s budget. I guess he couldn’t praise it, but if he disses it too much he risks being seen as too negative.

He has promoted this Radio NZ interview:

And from the Labour website:

Nats’ budget a double-crewed ambulance parked at the bottom of the cliff

National’s election year Budget shows that there’s no coincidence Finance Minister Steven Joyce doubles as National’s campaign manager, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“The 2017 Budget reveals a lack of vision, and is simply an election year budget with an eye for September 23, not the 21st Century.

“It’s irresponsible to dangle tax cuts that actually benefit the wealthiest more than low-income New Zealanders, instead of investing in the social foundations that are critical to our country’s future.

“The people who gain the most from the tax changes are people like Steven Joyce and me who earn far more than the average wage.

“The richest families get $35 a week from the Budget bribe, the poorest get $5 a week. Someone on the average wage gets $11 a week, and around 800,000 New Zealanders on taxable incomes below $14,000 get nothing.

“Steven Joyce has failed to deliver a plan to fix the housing crisis, build affordable homes for first home buyers, end homelessness, or fund our hospitals and schools properly.

“The big spending from the Government comes in the form of nearly $800 million for prisons. This is actually a sad indictment of National’s failure to invest in New Zealand.

“We would not have to build billion dollar prisons if the Government would adequately invest in early childhood education, get better support to help our vulnerable children, and provide mental health services to New Zealanders before their problems overwhelm them.

“The Government has said they want to double crew ambulances, but when it comes to social services, sadly those ambulances are still parked at the bottom of the cliff.

“Labour has different priorities to National. We will fund our health system properly to meet the needs of a growing population. We will build houses for first home buyers that they can afford, and invest in education instead of building prisons. This Budget offers nothing new. It’s time for a fresh approach,” says Grant Robertson.

The real costs of National’s election bribe

The cost of National’s poorly-targeted election year budget bribe is that there’s nothing to fix the housing crisis, health funding is cut, and funding for schools is cut, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

It’s no coincidence that Robertson targets the three election issues that Labour has chosen to focus their campaign on.

“As the dust begins to settle on the Government’s massive PR exercise, it’s becoming clearer than ever that National has no plan for New Zealand’s future.

“The reality is that $5 of every $7 in National’s package is poorly-directed through the tax cuts. Labour can’t support an approach that perpetuates inequality.

“Around 800,000 New Zealanders on taxable incomes below $14,000 get nothing from this. The 500,000 low income workers currently getting the Independent Earners’ Tax Credit lose that $10 a week, and are left with just an extra dollar a week.

“National’s answer to the housing crisis is building only one new affordable house for every 100 new Aucklanders. They’ve funded just 1200 houses in this Budget.

“Health gets $439 million when it needed $650 million simply to keep up with a growing and ageing population, as well as inflation. This adds further to the existing $1.7 billion of underfunding over the past six years.

“School operational grants needed $140 million to keep up with roll pressures and inflation, but they got $60 million – a shortfall of $80 million.

“And once again, National is refusing to restart contributions to the NZ Superannuation Fund. National is selling out this country’s future for a cynical election-year bribe.

“But the real winners in the tax cuts are those like the Finance Minister and Prime Minister, who will gain 20 times what a single person working fulltime on the minimum wage gets.

“That’s simply not fair. Under nine years of National the gaps between rich and poor have only grown wider. Labour has the fresh ideas to ensure all New Zealanders get a fair share of prosperity,” says Grant Robertson.

The problem with this criticism is that Labour doesn’t have an alternative to suggest, they don’t have a new tax policy, apart from reviewing tax if they become government.

Robertson pre-empts budget

Labour’s finance spokesperson has pre-empted the deliver to the budget today with criticisms in advance and a promise of much better things if Labour forms the next government (if that happens shouldn’t he have pre-empted jointly with Greens and NZ First?).

Grant Robertson: Labour ready to deliver a fresh approach

These are the key questions New Zealanders need answered in today’s Budget:

  •  After nine years of denial, have they done something that will finally fix the housing crisis and get New Zealanders affordable homes?
  •  Have they done enough to turn around their legacy of neglect in mental health and their $1.7 billion of health service cuts?
  •  Have they given schools the operational funding they need to they can keep the lights on, pay their bills and make up for last year’s funding freeze?
  •  Have they given the Police the resources they need to keep our communities safe?
  •  After nine years of failing to contribute a single cent to the Super Fund, will they finally do the right thing by future generations?
  •  Have they finally recognised New Zealanders birth right – to swim in clean rivers and streams and properly resourced making all waterways swimmable?

When Labour has the opportunity to lead the next Government, the budget that I deliver will set out a plan to give New Zealanders some hope for them and their families and to begin to address the shortfalls and shortcomings of National’s approach.

Our Kiwibuild programme will deliver homes to first-home buyers. They will be sold at cost, and the proceeds used to build more homes. 100,000 over 10 years – all affordable, all within reach of young New Zealanders.

Labour will close the tax loophole that effectively amounts to a taxpayer subsidy to speculators of $150m a year and helps them outbid home buyers, and then pump those savings into grants for home heating and insulation.

Labour’s next budget will invest in health, including funding primary healthcare, homecare, breakthrough life-saving cancer medicines and mental health services.

It will end the freeze on operational funding, which is a huge strain on already stressed school budgets. Parents are forking out more and more in “donations”.

Labour will invest in education, so schools can get on with teaching, not begging for money. We will introduce three years of free post-school education to help prepare our young people for the changing world.

Our budget will also be the first where a government is held accountable by an independent body to a set of Budget Responsibility Rules. We understand that the public needs to know that we will be responsible and prudent, with our spending phased and focused to achieve results.

New Zealand is a relatively wealthy country. We are blessed with wonderful natural resources and talented people. Now is the time to harness the potential of every single one of us, and give everyone a fair shot at success and a share in prosperity. We can do better than what will be put on offer by National today. It’s time for a fresh approach.

It’s not time yet – that will be next May at the earliest, if Labour forms the next Government with either or both the Greens and NZ First, and if Robertson is the new Minister of Finance.

Labour targeting social and infrastructure deficits, not financial

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says that a Labour government would target infrastructure deficits and social deficits’ and revise the Government targets on lowering financial deficits.

NZ Herald: Debt targets to be revised under Labour-led Government says Robertson

National increased the debt as a result of the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes from 5.4 per cent of gdp in 2008 to 24.3 per cent now. The deficit peaked at a record $18.3 billion in 2011.

The current target of reducing net debt to 20 per cent of gdp by 2020 will be replaced by getting it down to 10 to 15 per cent by 2025, Joyce recently announced.

But Robertson says that Labour will have a different priority and will revise that.

If Labour’s Grant Robertson is the next Finance Minister he will ditch the new ambitious net debt target set by Steven Joyce as part of the 2017 Budget or the current target.

“We believe there are infrastructure deficits and social deficits that are going to need some investment before we can get to the 20 per cent target,” Robertson said.

“We will review and revise those targets once we are in Government and we’ll see where we get,” said Robertson.

“The last time Labour was in office we got debt down close to zero so of course we are in favour of reducing debt.”

He said the numbers Joyce had “plucked out” for the 2025 target was where Treasury’s longer term forecasts were going anyway.

Greens are on the same page as Labour. This was been written into the Labour-Green fiscal responsibility code.

The wild card is Winston Peters.

Meanwhile New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Government will present a surplus on Thursday only because it has underfunded many public services including in health, education, police, conversation and housing.

“The Government will have to explain how there is a surplus after addressing all the reasonable demands that need money spent on them,” he said.

“If this Thursday’s Budget does not do that, then claims of a surplus will be without credibility, plausibility or integrity.”

What that means in practice, and whether Peters will come out of coalition negotiations with credibility, plausibility or integrity, won’t be known until late September at the earliest.


“An extremely unparliamentary term”

MPs often get grumpy in pPrliament during question time, but Steven Joyce took that a bit further than usual today when he used what was described as “an extremely unparliamentary term”.

Government Financial Position—Debt and Measures to Address

2. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Finance: What is the Government’s plan for reducing net debt as a percentage of GDP?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): So far we have made very good progress in reducing the Government’s debt, as measured against the size of our economy. Net debt peaked at just under 26 percent of GDP, following both the global financial crisis (GFC) and the Canterbury earthquakes. It is expected to be around 24 percent of GDP by the end of this year. We are forecasting to achieve our short-term target of reducing net debt to around 20 percent of GDP by 2020. All this has been achieved after New Zealand was forced to weather the shocks of the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes, and, of course, more recently, the Kaikōura earthquakes. Supporting Kiwi families through these events resulted in the country borrowing significant sums of money—approximately an extra 20 percent of GDP.

Todd Muller: Once the Government has achieved its net debt target, what will the new medium-term goal be?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I announced last week that the Government will set a new medium-term fiscal target of reducing net debt to between 10 and 15 percent of GDP by 2025. We are a geologically young country and we are also a small country in an often turbulent world, so there are plenty of risks and shocks ahead of us. The GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes taught us that they come along at any time, and sometimes together.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will notice that the Minister of Finance is taking an extraordinarily long time to answer questions—for example, he was asked in the primary question: what is the plan for reducing net debt? It is not a history lesson; it is a question about the future plan.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why?

Mr SPEAKER: Because I asked him to resume his seat. I am the judge of the length of answers and I am judging the relevance of a subsequent supplementary question. The supplementary question was definitely in order. The Minister has every right to answer it, and I will judge whether the answer goes on for too long.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: You may well judge that, but I am entitled to raise under the Standing Orders a point of order and outline why some members of this House find that his answers are not satisfactory. We have an entitlement to do that. Yes, you can judge whether or not we are making out the case, but you will not stop us from making it out.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I appreciate the member’s point of order, but I am a bit confused because I would have thought that New Zealand’s resilience to natural disasters is a very important issue, not just for this House but for this country. The member may want to make a point about saying that it is not of interest to him, and that is fine. But I do think that most New Zealanders would consider our ability to respond to earthquakes and other natural disasters to be very important. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard quite enough from both members. As I have—[Interruption] Order! As I have said, I will judge the length of answers. I want them to be relevant, but I thought the subsequent supplementary question was an important one. I would have thought most of the House was interested in future net debt targets. Does the Minister wish to complete his answer?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Thank you. With net debt at around 10 to 15 percent of GDP, New Zealand would have the capacity to absorb more than one shock without extra taxes and without slashing people’s entitlements, and that is what will be important to New Zealanders.

Todd Muller: How achievable is a net debt target of between 10 and 15 percent of GDP?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: This is achievable because the Government’s books are now in good shape, and rising surpluses are predicted over the forecast period. It is backed up by a New Zealand economy that has now experienced nearly 6 years of continuous growth, together with unemployment falling yesterday to 4.9 percent. This is one of the dividends New Zealand gets from an innovative economy that allows us to reduce debt so we can respond to whatever the future has in store not just for the current population but, of course, for our children and grandchildren.

Todd Muller: How will this new debt target help New Zealand respond to major shocks?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: You only have to look as far as the front page of the Wellington newspaper this morning to see the importance of ensuring that New Zealand has buffers against major shocks. It was suggested in that report that there is a new report produced saying that a major earthquake in Wellington would force the capital city to move to Auckland. I do not agree with that, and I think most Wellingtonians would not agree with that. The reality is that if you can afford to protect urban centres like Wellington after a big earthquake, then we do not have to consider moving the capital city. So, with sensible investments in infrastructure and prudent levels of debt, Mr Peters, then we can make sure that the capital city stays in Wellington.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What are you going on about now?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Grumpy old prick.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know there is a robust exchange in the House, but the Minister of Finance did use an extremely unparliamentary term to describe the leader of New Zealand First.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard the interjection; I did not hear where it came from, but now that it has been identified, I require the Minister to stand, withdraw—[Interruption] Order! The member is not yet in this position; he might be at some stage in the future. I require the member to stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.


Peters: “he’s got his own problems, he’s going through his hair… and a lot of people don’t like that when they look like him!”

Joyce: “aww nooo it’s just robust debate and he was being a fairly grumpy chap wasn’t he?”

Poor reports on poorest households

Things may not always be quite as they seem at first glance.

Stuff: Poorest Kiwi households face much larger cost of living increases than big spenders

A recent jump in the cost of living hit the lowest paid Kiwis much harder than the big spenders, new figures show.

In the first three months of the year, inflation for all households jumped 1 per cent, bringing annual inflation to 2.2 per cent, the highest since 2011.

On Thursday Statistics New Zealand released the household living-costs price indexes, giving a breakdown of how price increases hit different groups.

The figures showed that the rise hit the lowest earners the hardest. Beneficiaries saw their overall costs rise by 1.4 per cent, almost three times the increase faced by the 20 per cent of households with the highest spending.

That sounds like a significant disparity for poor households. But what comes next changes the perspective somewhat.

While overall inflation rose partly because of increases in the cost of fuel and food, Statistics New Zealand said inflation was especially high for beneficiaries because a greater proportion of their income went on tobacco. Each January, the excise on tobacco products increases by 10 per cent.

So inflation went up more for poor households that used a significant amount of tobacco.

Whether tobacco taxes should keep going up is another matter.

But one of the key pieces of information about households was not revealed until well into the item.

“Higher costs for cigarettes and tobacco had a greater effect on beneficiaries,” Statistics New Zealand’s Nicola Growden said.

“About 5 per cent of their spending went up in smoke, proportionally more than most other types of households spent.”

Predominantly Maori households faced a 1.3 per cent increase in inflation – higher than average – while superannuitant households faced a 0.9 per cent increase, slightly below average.

Maori are over represented in poorer households, and also smoke much more than non-Maori.

And superannuitants are also less likely to be smokers as they don’t die as young.

Meanwhile Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson put out this on the same topic.

Cost of Living increases hit those with least the hardest

Posted by on May 04, 2017

Beneficiaries, superannuitants and people on the lowest incomes continue to bear the brunt of higher inflation, according to the latest data from Statistics NZ, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

So he’s also referring to the latest inflation data from Statistics New Zealand.

“Since National came to office (December 2008) inflation for those on the lowest 20 per cent of incomes has increased by 17 per cent. But for those with the highest 20 per cent of incomes, it has increased by only 10 per cent.

“The cost of core inflation items like food, fuel and rates are all soaking up an increasing chunk of the incomes of the lowest paid people. These are costs that Kiwis can’t avoid – and they are rising faster than other costs in the economy.

No mention of one of the most significant factors, tobacco use and tax.

“High housing costs, rising rents are all eclipsing the mediocre wage increases for New Zealanders. Yesterday the latest wages data showed that 67 per cent of Kiwis got a pay rise of less than inflation, which means they effectively are working harder for less.

“Rather than address these problems National doesn’t have a plan for the economy, to help boost our notoriously low productivity, nor to help Kiwi families.

“Only a Labour-led Government will help address the growing cost of living crisis in New Zealand for low income Kiwis and we’ll deliver the shared prosperity that all New Zealanders deserve,” says Grant Robertson.

Robertson either didn’t pick up on the tobacco part of the statistics, or he deliberately left it out of his post.

But the Stuff item quoted him in their article, and also managed to, eventually, highlight the impact of tobacco on poorer households.


Q+A suggest new Labour deputy

Yesterday @NZQandA tweeted:


Just a mistake?

Or was someone getting ahead of themselves?

That was deleted and replaced by:

But not before some responses: