NZ First $4.6b student bribe

A significant factor in the 2005 election was Labour’s campaign promise of interest free student loans. They won the election. This policy was later projected to cost about $0.5b per year.

NZ First has a much bigger campaign promise – to wipe loans for students who stay and work in the country. They say it will cost $4.6b a year – but that may not take into account the likely increase in student numbers.

Stuff:  Winston Peters promises to wipe student loans

New Zealand First is promising to wipe student loans for new students who stay and work in the country for five years, and it says that it will only cost $4.6b a year.

People who bond themselves to regions in need of workers or study for less time could wipe theirs even faster.

Under the proposed scheme, the universal student allowance of about $200 a week would cover living costs while the government would cover all of student’s tuition fees upfront.

Every year of study would bond a student to one year of work in New Zealand. So a student who completed a three-year BA would only need to work for three years in New Zealand to pay off their entire loan.

However these fully-funded places would not be guaranteed, with industry groups and a reinstated Careers NZ setting a number of jobs they would need when the degree ended. There would be competition for fully funded places, but also safeguards to preserve diversity.

The policy would only apply to new students.

Martin said the scheme would cost $4.63b a year – only about half a billion more than the Government currently spends and 1.86 per cent of GDP – but both Labour and National said it was fiscally unachievable.

They can’t do it without either National or Labour support and neither could afford that sort of budget without having to significantly cut elsewhere.

She said it was more likely that she could negotiate the scheme in a coalition government with Labour, as the National Party and ACT would likely be philosophically opposed. Labour agreed – broadly.

“If we’re in a position to negotiate with other parties, then obviously more funding for education is something that we are going to be happy to talk about,” Hipkins said.

I expect Labour will have their own budget bribe priorities, and National won’t want to give up their tax cuts and family support package.

Interns worked with Labour MPs

Andrew Little and Andrew Kirton have tried to distance themselves from the Labour Party labelled fellowship/intern scheme, blaming it on Matt McCarten and as Little said ” people closely associated with the Labour Party”.

But some things don’t add up about Little’s claims of what he knew about the scheme.

The interns have been busy scrubbing any references to the scheme from their social media but some snippets have been found that suggest that the interns were working with Labour MPs in Auckland.

If that’s the case it would be remarkable if the Labour leadership and head office were largely unaware of what was going on.

Little has claimed the high ground saying it was a moral responsibility to step in and sort out the problems that were revealed last week, but he also has a moral responsibility to be up front and honest about what he knew about the scheme.

If he knew more about the scheme than he is saying then he is being evasive, some call what he is doing as lying by omission.

If Labour in Auckland were running an unapproved and unauthorised scheme that Little and Labour’s head office knew nothing about then that also looks bad.

On Q+A yesterday:

Jessica Mutch: Let’s talk about that then. How did it get out of control? Was it a lack of organisation on the part of Labour?

Little: No. This started out as an idea at the beginning of the year. I certainly became aware of it, um when it was raised with me. I said it’s a campaign issue, it’s a party issue, you’ve got to deal with it as a campaign issue.

Jessica Mutch: But it had Labour’s name on it though.

Little: And it did.

Jessica Mutch: It was called 2017 Labour Campaign Fellowship.

Little: Yeah because people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved. Without without approval or authority or any mandate they went ahead and did stuff.

The person most involved appears to have been Matt McCarten. He was supposed to be working for Little in the Labour Leader’s  Auckland Office – from last September when McCarten left his job as Little’s Chief of Staff:  Labour leader Andrew Little says his adviser Matt McCarten’s taxpayer-funded salary is within the rules because McCarten will be doing “outreach” work for Little rather than campaign work.

Little: The next I became aware was about May this year when the party was getting messages from students about to arr… within days of arriving, um, ah, the party stepped in straight away to people associated with it saying what is going on, there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing.

The party was given assurances, “we’ve got funding, we’ve got a programme sorted out, nothing to worry about’.

Interns were being confirmed in April and arriving in mid- May:

InternChatfield

Little was at least partially aware of this but then said:

Jessica Mutch: But then there was something to worry about.

Little: There was, yeah, we got the complaints this week and the minute that happened, because we were aware that the Labour Party name was associated with it.

It’s not about legal technicalities. I take a very dim view of those who hide behind legality and say it is moral responsibility that is the most important thing.

It wasn’t just the Labour Party name that was associated with it.  There seems to have been quite a bit of direct Labour party involvement in the scheme, in Auckland at least.

David Farrar posted in Of course this was Labour’s scheme:

And the five people named are all Labour Party.

  • Matt McCarten organised the scheme out of the Labour Leader’s Office, being paid by the taxpayer to do so
  • Caitlin Johnson and Kieran O’Halloran are paid staff for the Labour Party, It’s ridiculous to think they were doing this independently and without approval of the party.
  • Paul Chalmers is on the Council of the Labour Party and is a regional chair
  • Simon Mitchell is a longtime Labour activist

To argue this scheme was independent of Labour when it was called a Labour fellowship, and run by staff from the Leader’s Office and Labour field offices, plus a member of Labour’s National Council is beyond credibility.

But information from an intern suggests that Labour MPs in Auckland were also involved.

InternPak2

InternPak3

InternPak1

From that:

“worked directly with North Shore MPs to craft specifically altered campaign strategy”

“worked directly with MPs to craft specialized strategy that matched their electorates”

This may or may not be embellished, but there is a clear indication this intern was working directly with Labour MPs in Auckland.

This is how things look:

  • Little “certainly became aware of” what he says “started out as an idea at the beginning of the year”.
  • Interns were advised of being accepted in the scheme in April.
  • Interns were arriving in mid May.
  • Little: “The next I became aware was about May this year when the party was getting messages from students”
  • In May “the party stepped in straight away to people associated with it saying what is going on, there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing.”
    The party was given assurances “we’ve got funding, we’ve got a programme sorted out, nothing to worry about”
  • McCarten, who was supposedly doing “outreach” work for Little was involved
  • Labour Party staff were involved
  • Labour MPs appear to have been directly involved
  • Little “we got the complaints this week [he says Monday 29 June] and the minute that happened, because we were aware that the Labour Party name was associated with it.”

A number of things don’t add up, and Little is not being honest about what he knew about the scheme.

Why did Little do nothing about a scheme involving the election campaign in the crucial Auckland region despite saying “there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing”?

Why did Andrew Kirton not act until Monday last week?

Why were Labour MPs and Labour Party employees involved in an unauthorised scheme in Auckland that the Labour leadership and party head office claim to have only become involved in  one week ago?

Why is Little claiming the moral high ground when he is not being open and honest about details of his knowledge of the scheme?

It looks like either Little is hiding a lot, or Auckland Labour has been acting independently of the Labour leadership and Labour’s head office with Little having some knowledge of it.

If Labour were to succeed in September’s election they would not only need to have  their Wellington leadership and head office working with their Auckland MPs, they would also need to work with the Green Party and probably with NZ First.

What confidence can voters have in their honesty and confidence?

Labour policy coup attempt?

The Labour Party has handled the foreign student intern issue very poorly and they have been justifiably been blasted from all sides.

Leader Andrew Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton have been trying to repair the damage and pile the blame on Matt McCarten, but they should have known exactly what was being done and ensured it was properly managed. They stuffed up badly.

However there are suggestions that McCarten and others involved in the debacle may have been attempting some sort of grand plan to push the party left and effectively execute a policy coup.

Martyn Bradbury has been involved, and as usual he has trouble keeping quiet. He has posted Why the Labour Party Student Intern ‘scandal’ is a smear

Watching that meltdown into the shameful scandal it’s being sold as by the media and Politicians desperate to move the attention from Bill English is as ugly as it is typical.

The spluttering shock and hyperventilation of the corporate media at a story that is over a 2 months old right when English was getting screwed seems remarkably good timing for National.

Mostly fortuitous timing I think. National and the media didn’t engineer the Labour intern debacle, and the timing seems to be largely coincidental.

What Labour were doing with these interns happens every election. International Students come here to monitor and experience our elections, what was different about this year was how quickly over subscribed the programme became.

There’s doubt about that claim as documents (see Funding of Labour’s intern scheme) have revealed plans for more interns than have arrived.

The plan to use international students who had worked on campaigns like Jeremy Corbyn’s and Bernie Sander’s were going to be matched by domestic volunteers who were going to target 60 000 Aucklander’s who had enrolled to vote but hadn’t voted and 60 000 Aucklander’s who hadn’t enrolled at all.

They wanted to import the success of Sanders and Corbyn campaigns at getting out young voters (but failed at winning elections).

The campaigns focus was engagement and it had Labour Party sign off and Union buy in.

What happened however was Labour Party HQ Wellington become panicked by how big the Campaign had grown and despite green lighting it started dragging their feet until the thing fell over.

A whispering campaign targeting the funders strangled off money because Labour Party HQ Wellington’s preference is to win over voters who are exisiting voters because the policy platform doesn’t have to be particularly radical for that.

The Newshub documents show “First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000″ and the “Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was also to be involved in management of the project” but they have quickly distanced themselves today and claim that they hadn’t committed any funds.

Did the scheme proceed without proper funding in place?

Bradbury:

What Labour didn’t want was a huge campaign to the Left of Labour pressuring them for a Corbyn or Sanders platform.

Labour didn’t want this…

Campaign for Change Manifesto 
1: Free public transport for students and beneficiaries
2: 18 month rent freeze 
3: 5% maximum rent rise
4: $20 per hour minimum wage
5: Artists and Volunteers benefit
6: Free condoms, contraceptive pills and sanitary pads available at schools and family planning
7: Universal Student Allowance for Tertiary students
8: Free public internet
9: Lower voting age to 16
10: Free school lunches 

…so the fear of a successful left wing agenda has once again managed to doom Labour. Just like the candidate selection fiasco and just like the Party List fiasco, this has come down to poor internal management by the Wellington arm of the Party.

While it’s not clear it appears that Campaign for Change tried to force these policies on the Labour Party – in effect trying a policy coup.

Policy development usually takes years and includes input from party members. It is not usually foisted on a party by a small group of activists with revolution in mind.

The perception of political hypocrisy is a mainstream media generated one, the real story is Labour’s fear of a courageous left wing platform.

There was a heap of hypocrisy over student workers working for nothing and living in poor cramped conditions. But that’s not a big deal compared to what Bradbury is suggesting.

Blaming Matt McCarten and leaving him to twist in the wind is expected but it certainly isn’t honourable or justified.

If McCarten and Bradbury and whoever else was involved thought that importing a team of campaign slaves that would somehow magically turn out hundreds of thousands of votes for Labour they are naive or nuts.

If they thought that three months out from the election the Labour Party establishment would change all their policy plans and take on a ten step pathway to political oblivion then all the criticism that can be mustered is justified.

It looks like a policy coup attempt by a bunch of clowns absent any clues or leadership.

Back to the actual party leadership – how Little and Kirton allowed this to even get off the ground I have no idea. I am flabbergasted at how this looks.

 

Funding of Labour’s intern scheme

Labour still have questions to answer about why they have deceived and not been upfront about the degree of their involvement in the intern scheme fiasco.

Andrew Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton seem to have tried to play down the degree of party involvement but the whole thing has had Labour written all over it.

Newshub has obtained documents showing funding plans – Union money behind Labour’s botched intern scheme

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it.

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks.

Yesterday Matt McCarten stated “The programme was extremely popular and quickly became oversubscribed. The scale of the programme is now greater than I can manage, and I am aware of issues that this has caused.”

It was reported there were about 85 interns, less than that budgeted for.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

Would this have been declared in Labour’s donation returns?

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.”

It was clearly a Labour plan.

A less expensive plan was also outlined, in which half of the students would be billeted.

The cost of that came in at $148,000 plus operational costs. It would have required less of a fundraising drive, but still relied on union funding.

The scheme was already under way, there must have been some funds raised and used.

On Thursday, Labour leader Andrew Little fronted up about the party’s intern scheme which got “wildly out of control”.

So it must have been poorly managed.

“I have to say it is embarrassing for the party, of course it is,” he conceded.

“I am disappointed that they’ve been let down, but right now the priority is to fix that up, look after them, make sure they’re okay and work out what do from there.”

One priority is for Little to be up front about Labour’s involvement, and his knowledge of it. And Andrew Kirton.

For such a large and elaborate scheme with Labour labels everywhere the party leadership and party management must have been well aware of it. They surely must have approved it.

Some questions that deserve answers:

Have any Labour people worked on the intern scheme while being paid by Parliamentary Services?

Has Labour breached the Electoral Act by not having authorisation statements on the scheme’s Facebook page and Twitter account? Both seem to have now been pulled, but they had no sign authorisation statements.

One question that has been answered emphatically is McCarten’s campaign skills. Appalling.

Update: Andrew Kirton is being interviewed on RNZ.

He said he first knew about the project in April. Espiner is challenging him on that.

Kirton says he hasn’t seen the document until it was just published by Newshub.

Kirton is in evasion overdrive, trying to dump everything on McCarten.

Kirton says that “it was Matt’s programme that he took over when he left the party”.  So it was already a Labour party project.

He keeps diverting to ‘as soon as we were aware of the problems we stepped in to sort things out”.

Asked if the spending was going to be counted in their election  spending he said the hadn’t thought about that. Remarkable.

Kirton’s responses in that interview need a lot more scrutiny.

Intern schemes using international activists are common.

Trying to pretend a scheme has nothing to do with Labour is crazy.

McCarten, Kirton and Little all have to take responsibility for this mess.

Labour intern interview

One of the Labour interns in New Zealand on a student visa has had an interview with 95bFM:

95bFM spoke this afternoon to an intern who came over to work as an intern for the Labour Party, who wishes to remain anonymous.

A: Basically, I don’t even know where to start – the story broke this morning… I didn’t leak it, and it’s not the full narrative and it’s not the truth – as of now, I’ve been reading every article that’s been published and stuff it’s just not [true] – I am probably the one who knows the most about the situation for certain reasons and I would just say that it is not the Labour Party’s fault. It is Matt McCarten, Paul Chalmers, Simon Mitchell, Caitlin Johnson, Kieran O’Halloran.

They kind of organised on their own, lied to the Labour Party, went off and said they were bringing over 15 Americans to work on campaigns, and really tried to bring over 115 at peak capacity, and then just kept on bringing people from the US, the UK, Ireland, Italy. It was mostly a way to exploit – we were meeting their targets for phone calls and door knocks, and then for Matt McCarten, we were going to work for labour unions and increace the participation with those labour unions, so there’s just a lot of shady shit up in the air right now.

Q: So who are those four names do they work for the Labour Party?

A: Caitlin Johnson, Kieran O’Halloran, and… they are the only officially paid staffers for the Labour Party, that may have changed within the last couple of days, I’m unsure, Matt McCarten was the former chief of staff, he resigned, and has been playing it off like he hasn’t been involved at all. Paul Chalmers is the regional chair for Auckland, so he is supposed to help campaigns all kind of organise together, other than that he doesn’t have authority for the Labour Party. Those are the key people who are being left out of this statement, and i think it’s for a reason, the people who leaked it are damage controlling. A lot of the narrative right now is around immigration policy and stuff like that, and they’re really missing a lot of the legality issues of everything that they’ve done.

Q: So why do you think they’re being left out of the narrative?

A: I think that Caitlin and Kieran came forward to the media and leaked and tried to blame it all on Matt McCarten. None of these people are good people and they all exploited us, but i think that they are trying to push the blame off of them more and more on to Matt.

Q: So have have you been exploited? How did you hear about coming to NZ, are you a volunteer for the Labour Party?

A: Uhh yeah well allegedy. So they sent out emails to our advisors at university, that they spoke with professors in NZ – and so my advisor recommended this to me, was like “this is a safe programme, go ahead, go” – and so I was like “okay, I’ll just go over”. I was brought under the idea there would only be like 15 people, and I’d only work 40 hours a week, and the accomodation would be like dorm style accomodation with basic groceries provided, cause that’s literally what’s written down on our contract that they made me. And so generally everyone got lied to in different ways, cause there are so many people involved in it. But like it’s hard to get one strict clear narrative, cause they keep on changing it on these different groups of people cause they split up the email groupings into different categories and stuff like that.

Q: So it’s very intentional that they’ve done this? 

A: Yup, it’s very intentional. Without a doubt.

Q: So what were the conditions like when you arrived?

A: When I arrived no-one was actually in Auckland and I didn’t actually know where I was going, and I didn’t know if anyone was actually picking me up from the airport or not. Luckily I got picked up and dropped off at somebody’s house and so that was fine, but that was not made known to me before coming over, that I would be living with some random person for a little bit, and then we moved to the marae where we had to build cubicles out of plastic and we also raided this abandoned church for furniture and stuff like that. And basically we made our own accomodation out of like abandonded materials and plastic… it’s a very odd situation.

Q: Yeah, definitely sounds like it. Do you have anything else you would like to add? 

A: Mostly this is not the Labour Party’s fault. It really isn’t. They’re honestly trying their best and doing as much as they can at their full capacity right now, and I’m really appreciative of it. I just wish that these people didn’t lie to all of us in the first place.

 

Labour campaign exposed as foreign workers rebel

Matt McCarten’s ‘Campaign for Change’ has been exposed as being far from the non-partisan project he claimed it would be, as Labour try to deal with rebelling foreign student election workers complaining about their housing conditions.

Key points:

  • McCarten’s ‘Campaign for Change’ is a front for the Labour Party, not non-partisan as claimed, and not aimed at “full political participation” in election.
  • Foreign students have been brought to New Zealand to work for Labour.
  • The students would not have been paid at all for their work.
  • The students have rebelled against cramped and poor living conditions.
  • They are being used in political deceit.

Last week I posted  McCarten’s ‘new’ project

1 million people did not vote in the last election. 250,000 people who were required to register did not. These numbers represent a crisis of democracy. This group overwhelmingly consisted of young people, workers in low paid occupations…

“The Campaign for Change will channel the energy and passion of New Zealander’s who want to see a change of Government this election.” says Director Matt McCarten.

This non-partisan campaign is being created in order to get people engaged and involved. The disconnect between a million citizens and political participation is a threat to our democracy.

The disconnect between what Labour are doing here and what they are campaigning against is a threat to their campaign.

The Campaign for Change is directed by the goal of full political participation.

It’s obviously not. It is using poorly housed foreign slave labour targeting votes for Labour.

Richard Harman at Politik posted Labour Party volunteer workers rebel over living conditions.

A Labour Party scheme to recruit  85 overseas students to campaign for the party during this year’s election has hit trouble.

The students rebelled over their accommodation and their disappointment with what was supposed to be a high powered learning programme but which appears to be not much more than political campaign drudge work.

Now party heavyweights have had to step in to rescue the programme and deal with the complaints from the students.

POLITIK has seen emails which show that the students have now held two meetings with party officials to complain about their accommodation on an Auckland marae and the work they were being asked to do.

Last night Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton confirmed that there had been issues with the scheme which had arisen over the past week.

He said the scheme had been originated by Andrew Little’s former Chief of Staff, Matt McCarten, who now runs Labour’s campaign office in Auckland.

Not quite. Last week McCarten said he was leaving Labour to run a non-partisan ‘Campaign for Change’. Is he still based in Labour’s campaign office?

The heart of the row appears to be the living conditions under which the interns have been accommodated at Awataha Marae in Northcote.

The students met Labour party officials on Saturday to protest about their accommodation and were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.

The interns were invited by Labour to help with its campaign.

Kirton says that Labour’s head office had been notified of these problems and had now stepped in.

The interns would leave Auckland and be distributed across the country. They would be billeted with Labour supporters.

Short lectures are promised from some top Labour Party names:

  • Andrew Little
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Helen Clark
  • “Current ambassadors to NZ.”
  • “Senior party stakeholders and staff, including the President and Chief of Staff “
  • Teleconferences with senior staff from US Democratic Party and UK Labour Party

However, Kirton said there were now problems organising these talks because the volunteers were no longer in one place.

This looks more like a farce than anything, but questions of consistency arise – Labour are campaigning against foreign workers, low wages and housing problems.

And it also raises questions about McCarten’s and Labour’s honesty in the campaign.

In Parliament yesterday Andrew Little questioned Bill English on “an acceptable moral standard” and “a cover-up” and “a public figure is lying”.

This isn’t as shoddy as the Barclay debacle, but when asking “Why should New Zealanders place any trust in him as Prime Minister” when McCarten, and Labour and Little by association, have been dishonest about the nature of the Labour campaign to get out votes.

Little said the Prime Minister “told media things that are untrue about his knowledge of Todd Barclay’s actions, and consistently failed the moral standards that New Zealanders expect of their elected leaders”.

Ill-considered deceits like Labour’s ‘Campaign for Change in which foreign student workers are being exploited.

Why should New Zealanders place any trust in Little as leader of Labour?

Is it any wonder many people don’t trust any politicians and can’t be bothered voting?

Bad timing by Greens on refugees

Greens want to substantially increase the number of refugees coming into New Zealand.

Newstalk ZB:  Greens push for even bigger intake of refugees

The Green Party is pushing for an even bigger intake of refugees into New Zealand.

It is looking to further extend the country’s refugee policy, and is committing to do more than double the current quota.

Co-leader James Shaw said they would aim to increase the quota to 4000 refugees a year, to be phased in over six years.

“We would need to build an additional refugee resettlement centre, that would not be in Auckland. We would be asking council to apply. We know that there are number who are already keen,” he said.

Shaw said they would also introduce a new community support programme that would allow NGOs and support agencies to take in another 1000 refugees annually.

“When the Syrian crisis really hit the front pages last year, we did hear from a lot of community organisation, church groups and NGO’s to say actually we do have capacity, we do want to be able to support refugees. And so we are taking them up on that offer,” he said.

Immigration is a hot topic leading into the New Zealand election campaign.

Winston Peters and New Zealand First wants to substantially reduce immigration numbers, but they don’t seem to have any policy on refugees – see their Immigration Policy.

Labour announced policy last week that would reduce overall immigration by tens of thousands – see Time for a breather on immigration – but that doesn’t mention refugees. A fact sheet states “These changes won’t affect the Refugee Quota”. It also gives numbers:

Labour will increase the refugee quota to 1,500.

This will continue Labour’s proud tradition of welcoming victims of war and disaster to our shores, which extends back to taking in refugees during World War II and is just as needed today, with conflicts such as in Syria creating the largest number of displaced persons since 1945.

The Green proposal is substantially more, with an eventual aim of 4,000 refugees per year.

There may be many more Syrian refugees looking for a safe haven as their civil war escalates yet again – see US shoot down Syrian jet – but with an escalation in Muslim tensions in the UK – see London Finsbury Park Mosque attack – there are likely to be growing concerns and opposition.

The timing of Green proposal may have been pre-planned but it is unlikely to be well received with the current international situations deteriorating.

 

 

Support for ‘Family Incomes Package’

A Newshub/Reid Research poll shows that a majority of people support the Government’s $2 billion Family Income Package that was announced in the budget last month.

‘Two thirds’ of voters  support the policy and ‘just over 25%’ oppose it (they don’t give exact overall numbers).

Results based on party preference on: Do you support National’s ‘Family Incomes Package’?:

  • National voters: 88% yes, 7.2% no
  • Labour voters: 48.3% yes, 41.7% no
  • Green voters: 48.4% yes, 40.1% no
  • NZ First voters: 48% yes, 43.7% no

So even with National mentioned in the question more Labour, Green and NZ First voters supported than opposed the package.

Poll: Labour voters like National’s family package

I do wonder how many people who were surveyed have a good understanding of what was in the package.

The Family Income Package includes:

  • Tax Thresholds: Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000. This provides a tax reduction of $11 a week to people earning $22,000 or more rising to $20 per week for anyone earning $52,000 or more.
  • Family Tax Credit: Increases the maximum credit for the first child under 16 by $9 a week, and for each subsequent child under 16 by between $18 and $27 a week. Also increases the abatement rate to 25 per cent, and reduces the abatement threshold to $35,000.
  • Accommodation Supplement: Increases the maximum payment rates for a two person household by between $25 and $75 a week, and for larger households by between $40 and $80 a week.
  • Accommodation Benefit: Increases weekly payments by up to $20 for students to reflect increasing housing costs for students.

The Family Incomes Package will benefit 1,340,000 families in New Zealand by, on average, $26 per week from 1 April 2018. Around 750,000 superannuitants and around 41,000 students will also benefit from the Family Incomes Package.

– See more at: https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2017/family-incomes-package/index.htm#sthash.RUywmMHt.dpuf

Labour versus “slum boarding houses”

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says that Labour will get tough on slum boarding houses but is vague on details.

The next Labour-led Government will legislate a Warrant of Fitness based on tough minimum standards to clean out slum boarding houses, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“It’s not acceptable for New Zealanders in the 21st Century to be living in the kind of rat-infested dumps that have been exposed in recent media reports.

“National has had nine years to fix these problems and they’re still denying there’s a housing crisis.

“Too many of our most vulnerable people are being exploited by slum boarding house operators, in dangerous and unsanitary conditions.

“The country’s had enough of Nick Smith’s tinkering and excuses.

“Labour will legislate tough minimum standards and a licensing regime that will weed out rogue operators. We’ll also mandate local government’s enforcement role, to be funded by the licensing system.

“Labour will take the first crucial steps to fix the housing crisis. But, cleaning up slum boarding houses is long overdue and will be an immediate priority,” says Phil Twyford.

This sounds like it may be jumping on a bandwagon from an item on The Nation yesterday – Boarding house horrors:

A housing shortage means more people are turning to boarding houses for accommodation, but as Caitlin McGee discovers, experts say rogue landlords are using the desperation of tenants and a lack of regulation to exploit vulnerable people.

Twyford gave no link to Labour policies on this and there is no mention in Our plan to start fixing the housing crisis.

Twyford is short on some key details, like what will happen to landlords who don’t meet ‘warrant of fitness’ requirements, and what will happen to residents who have to find somewhere else to live.

I have found a press release from Andrew Little:  Healthy homes for all

Next week on May 4, National MPs will get the chance to ensure every rental home in New Zealand is warm and dry – by supporting my Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2).

It is aimed at preventing any more cases like Emma-Lita’s, setting strict guidelines around insulation and heating which all landlords must comply with before they can legally rent out their properties.

It’s about doing what an increasingly callous government has failed to do with its continued protection of slum landlords rather than looking after those in need. And it’s not just our most vulnerable – more middle New Zealand families are renting, locked out of the housing market by soaring prices.

A previous Labour Bill that would have ensured every rental home was warm and dry was rejected by the Government last year. Housing Minister Nick Smith argues he’s doing all that’s needed to improve the “deplorable” state of rentals.

Not so. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill requires rental homes to be retrofitted with ceiling and underfloor insulation.  It comes into effect in July for state houses, but not until 2019 for other rental – read private – housing.

Nick Smith believes his Bill is a pragmatic and efficient option to the problem, and that alternatives are too expensive and will not prove to be beneficial.

But hang on. There is nothing in it about minimum standards of heating. A 2014 Household Income Report shows the majority of kids living in poverty live in private rentals. Those are the families who can least afford to heat their homes.

National has accepted the need to regulate private rental properties by requiring insulation. When temperatures plummet insulation only isn’t going to keep you warm. Why not finish the job and require efficient heating too?

No child, no pensioner, no struggling uni student, no New Zealander, should be living in a hovel. Sadly, some are.

It’s inexcusable in this day and age to be renting out something that is so poorly maintained that it becomes a health hazard.

The Government has the opportunity to do something about that come May 4, by supporting my Bill.

I presume this Member’s bill failed. I also presume this is something like what Twyford was referring to.

 

Labour poll different

Labour are emailing internal polls results to their mailing list that show a quite different result to the Newshub/Reid Research poll that was published yesterday.

I’ve just got our latest poll numbers in, and I wanted to share them with you first.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Labour: 32%
  • Greens: 13%
  • National: 42%
  • New Zealand First: 9%

While this latest poll puts us and the Greens collectively ahead of National, last night, another poll had us at 26% – short of being able to form a government.

It shows just how volatile polls are and how close this election is going to be.

And while our latest poll numbers show we are up, it’s looking like we won’t meet our online fundraising target this month – meaning we might not have enough funds to run the campaign we’ve planned to win.

Right now we really need to keep our momentum up. That momentum relies on the vital funds thousands of generous supporters like you contribute to our campaign. We need to invest in more advertising, more rallies, more volunteer organisers and build our campaign now – if we don’t, we risk losing our gains.

The latest June 2017 Newshub/Reid Research poll was:

  • National 47.4%
  • Labour 26.4%
  • Greens 12.5%
  • NZ First 9.4%

That’s quite different. What Labour (Andrew Kirton) didn’t specify was when their poll was conducted, what the sample size was, what the questions asked were, and the margin of error was.

Polls will vary but Labour’s poll is quite different to the last two public polls.

It’s also worth pointing out Labour have twice in the last few months released their internal poll results, but most of the time they don’t, so it’s not possible to compare trends.