Contrasting Labour hoardings

Labour leader David Cunliffe put up his first hoarding today, (as snapped by Patrick Gower).

Cunliffe hoarding

Interesting to see no ‘Cunliffe’ on it apart from the picture, and a meaningless slogan the most prominent wording. ‘Party vote Labour’ is far less prominent.

Clayton Cosgrove (source Whale Oil)

Cosgrove hoarding

Cosgrove is 8 on the Labour list but no ‘Vote positive’ or ‘Party vote Labour. Much less red, his own slogan which sounds a bit like National’s, and a very misleading ‘MP Waimakariri’ as Cosgrove is not an electorate MP.

Trevor Mallard has started putting his hoardings up a day early (source Holly Bennett).

Mallard Hoarding

Mallard is standing for the electorate only and isn’t on the list so is promoting himself, with ‘Vote positive’ and ‘Party vote Labour’ far less prominent at the bottom.

Megan Woods:

Hoarding Woods

Same layout as Mallard’s but Woods is also on the list (at 20).

Jacinda Ardern:

Hoarding Ardern

Same again. This seems to be the official 2014 layout. Jacinda is 5 on the list.

Chris Hipkins:

Hoarding Hipkins

Another standard layout with the all important party vote note prominent. Hipkins is an electorate MP and 9 on the party list.


Sue Moroney (source Whale Oil)

Moroney hoarding

Two different versions. The top one is recycled from 2008, promoting both Labour and Moroney but obviously no current slogan ‘Vote positive’. The second is very prominent ‘Party vote Labour.

Ironically Moroney’s recycled hoardings are the best party promotions. She is 10 on Labour’s list and has trouble winning electrates.

It’s strange to see each MP with vastly different hoardings.

Harawira wants to spend ACC fund on policies

In an interview on The Nation this morning Hone Harawira was asked how the Mana Party proposed funding their policies. Harawira suggested raising taxes “on the rich” and using the ACC fund would help pay for them.

Lisa Owen: So, to be clear, you think you can cover several billion dollars worth of spending through taxation?

Hone Harawira: That’s one of them, there’s another one as well. Did you know there’s 22 billion dollars sitting in the hands of ACC, simply amassing wealth, amassing wealth through the corporatisation of injury? There’s something wrong with that notion. That money should be spent on the needs of New Zealanders, not on investments which are aimed at maximising the wealth of the corporates that are running it.

How big is the ACC fund? NZ Herald reported ACC fund doubles to $24.6 billion.

Latest figures show ACC’s investment fund was worth $24.6 billion.

The ACC Annual Report summarises their financial position as at 30 June 2013:

ACC Financial Position 2013So even though they have $24 billion ACC say they need to increase this to cover their liabilities.

This would mean maintaining existing levels of income to grow the fund. ACC explains how they’re funded.

The money we need to provide our services comes from levies on people’s earnings, businesses’ payrolls, petrol and fees from vehicle licensing, as well as Government funding. When working out how much money to collect through levies, we balance the likely cost of claims against the need to keep levies fair and stable. We distribute the money collected into one of five ACC Accounts, each Account covering a specific group of injuries.

If the fund was reduced then over time the Government would have to pay more to cover ongoing costs, so using up the fund now would cost taxpayers more later.

Mana Party draft policy supports returning to ‘pay-as-you-go’ for ACC. From their (Draft) ACC Policy:

MANA supports the principles originally formulated by Justice Owen Woodhouse in his 1967 Royal Commission report, in which he recommended setting up a new, universal, 24 hour, no-fault system for accident compensation and support. The five principles are: community responsibility; comprehensive entitlement; complete rehabilitation; real compensation; and administrative efficiency.

MANA believes that everything should be done to return ACC to the Woodhouse principles so that individuals and whānau are protected and supported when people suffer injury.

Key policies include:

  • Government to return to ‘pay as you go’ for ACC, rather than expecting ACC to collect enough money to cover all future costs in each year.
  • Make health and wellbeing the priority, rather than forcing people off ACC as quickly as possible.
  • Get rid of the vocational independence (work capacity) test which is unnecessary and is often used simply as a way of forcing people off ACC at the soonest possible opportunity.
  • Ensure that people who suffer from work-related gradual process injury, disease or infection, including from chemical poisoning, and from hearing loss induced by industrial noise, receive full cover from ACC.
  • Require ACC to continue cover as long as an injury remains a cause of a person’s current condition, rather than using pre-existing conditions or age related degeneration as an excuse to withdraw support.
  • Remove the inequity in access to services and healthcare between ACC and Ministry of Health clients, bringing all recipients to the higher level of access to resources.

So Mana want to dig into the ACC fund and spend it on their social policies while adding to ACC coverage and costs with their ACC policies.

To do this they would need agreement from Labour.

David Parker: ACC levy equals 350 years of Govt funding for food in schools

“The Government is taking $700 million more than is needed from New Zealanders through ACC levies over two years. That’s a stealth tax, pure and simple. They’ve been advised to reduce it but are still overcharging New Zealanders.

“That money is enough to cover the Government’s new role in feeding the kids for 350 years. That’s how badly Kiwis are being ripped off.

“The Government is using ACC as a political jelly bean jar, overcharging New Zealanders to fill to the jar to overflowing in order to dole out lollies in election year for political advantage.

“This isn’t prudent financial management, it’s taking directly from New Zealanders’ back pockets to try to win an election,” says David Parker.

Mana are trying to win an election by promising to spend from the ACC fund.

Sue Moroney: ACC levies higher than they need to be

“Money collected in ACC levies can’t be used to fund anything else, as it is ring-fenced for injuries resulting from accidents, so its use to prop up a sham surplus is misleading.

“That money would be better off circulating in the economy, than being tied up in an ACC’s coffers where it is not needed,” Sue Moroney said.

This is just opposition and election rhetoric, there’s no guarantee Mana would get a say on use of the ACC fund and there’s no guarantee Labour would substantially change how ACC operates and is funded.

Mana want to spend from the ACC fund. Labour want to reduce levies. Mana want to increase payouts.

Is that affordable? If so who should pay?

Paid Parental Leave could be extended

Labour MP Sue Moroney’s bill to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks had been threatened with a Government veto despite looking like having the numbers to pass with the help of Peter Dunne crucial.

Bill English has previously said that while it was interested in the bill that it wasn’t affordable. There have been claims that English overstated the cost.

NZ Herald reports

The Government appears to have softened its stance on Labour MP Sue Moroney’s members bill to extend paid parental leave to six months.

Ms Moroney said National had approached Labour “after the weight of public opinion convinced them to rethink its threat of using a financial veto to scupper the bill”.

The Government Administration select committee has now delayed its report on the bill until February 28.

English now says “The bill now looks substantially different and may be worth looking at.”

Mr English said the select committee had now done detailed work on it to come up with a version that wouldn’t be vetoed.

“We just haven’t had the opportunity to look at the detail of where they’ve got to.”

Delaying the date at from which the extension would apply was a possible concession that may persuade National to support the bill he said.

“The original bill just cost too much too soon to be acceptable or workable. Costings would be one issue where the Government would want to see where the committee’s got to.”

Changes may relate to timing – it would be difficult for National to keep claiming the bill is unaffordable while they promote their success at improving the economy and Government finances.

National won’t want the bill to prevent them from balancing the books as that has been one of their prime focuses.

But if the timing of the bill taking effect can ensure it is affordable without a deficit then it may get through – especially considering an election is coming up.

I personally think that targeted support of parents during the first six months of a baby’s life should be a priority.

Paid Parental Leave – timetable to rule out a veto?

One of the strongest arguments against the Paid Parental Leave extension is the economic situation – the country can’t afford it at the moment. David Farrar at Kiwiblog:

That cost is misleading, as it covers the transition period. Once fully implemented the cost is around $150 million a year. When we are still struggling to get out of deficit, it is too large a commitment.

But according to National we will get out of deficit soon. And the Paid Parental Leave plan was always to phase in the change and therefore the cost. The Dominion Post explains in Labour keen to discuss parental leave:

The bill originally planned to introduce the change from April 1 this year and to increase the allowance by four weeks a year for three years.

Obviously April 1 this year can’t happen. But the plan was always to phase the changes in over three years so the immediate financial impact would be smaller than some people think. Yesterday on Breakfast John Key said:

“I think paid parental leave will increase one day, it’s just not today, because we just don’t have the money”.

A comment at Kiwiblog: “For voters in the centre and left the “We don’t have the money” argument is insincere, the truth is more like “All the money is allocated to stuff we consider more important, mums and babies didn’t make the cut.”

National are promising a surplus soon, so it won’t be long before we do “have the money”.

Parents would have to wait until at least 2015 for the government books to be in surplus before National would consider increasing the leave.

So starting to phase in the extension from 2015 would be politically difficult to veto.

The select committee considering the legislation is already looking at the impact of changing the implementation dates.

Labour says it will agree to delay extending paid parental leave to get the Government on-side after Prime Minister John Key made the first concession yesterday.

Ms Moroney said she would happily discuss a timetable with Mr Key.

Smart concession from Key, and smart response from Labour. Investing in more support for babies is more important than minor political pointscoring.

If a sensible timetable can be agreed to then the support of babies, parents and families will win.

Richard29 explains:

The 26 week figure was not plucked out of thin air. That is the age at which the World Health Organisation recommends weaning off breastfeeding and introducing solids and is a natural transition point for mums to go back to work if they want to. 4 months is a little early and 14 weeks is even earlier.

As I’m sure you are aware there are a bunch of health benefits for the child in breastfeeding to 6 months if that is possible. It’s not ideal to be losing those health benefits (which can last for years) just because mum and dad’s financial circumstances in that three month period didn’t allow it.

I know it seems hopeful for government to make policy based on evidence and research, but that is what the 26 week increase is trying to do.

That adds to a strong argument for increasing paid parental leave, and a sensible timetable – phasing in the extension from 2015 – that National can agree too (and can’t refuse) will mean a veto isn’t necessary.

Peter Dunne votes with Labour and a barb

Today Peter Dunne is expected to vote in support of two Labour Member’s bills:

Dunne to use casting vote

  • David Clark’s bill to Monday-ise Anzac Day and Waitangi Day
  • Sue  Moroney’s bill to increase paid parental leave to 26 week

Dunne has commented on Facebook:

Tomorrow, two Labour Member’s Bill will pass first reading in ParliamentThe vote in both cases will 61-60 in favour.

What perplexes me is that Labour seems happy to accept my vote being the one that tips their Bills over the line tomorrow, while only a few weeks they were railing in the most disgusting terms against the fact that the Mixed Ownership Model Bill was also passed 61-60 on the basis of my vote.

In both cases, my vote was based on long standing UnitedFuture policy positions. I have been entirely consistent. But on the face of it, Labour’s position seems not only remarkable inconsistent, but also extremely self-serving.

This is a fair call from Dunne. He has been bombarded with extensive criticism on hos MOM Bill vote – much of it ill-informed or deliberately false.

Ironically David Clark has been one Labout MP who has openly criticised Dunne…

1 –Absent conscience when it comes to keeping his election promise never to sell off our water assets.

…and wouldn’t retract this blatantly false accusation, but who accepts Dunne’s support for his own bill when it’s on exactly the same basis, consistent with United Future policy.

So Dunne has made a point…

Mr Dunne admitted he was tempted to withhold support for the Labour MPs’ bills in revenge for the “smears” he was subjected to during debate on the state assets sale bill, but decided sticking to his principles was more noble than political utu.

…but common sense politics prevails.