Key on tax cuts and family package

John Key was interviewed on The Nation this morning and was asked what he was likely to do next year regarding tax cuts, taking into account things like the cost of the Kaikoura earthquakes.

Newshub summarises in Key: Families first in line for tax cuts

Simply cutting tax rates or lifting the thresholds at which higher rates kick in wouldn’t be “fair to everybody”.

“If you lower the bottom rate, you give it to everybody at the top and it costs a fortune,” he explained.

“Whereas you might be able to do some integrated family package… which delivers fairness to everybody but a bit more meaningful at the lower-income end.”

But changes to income tax brackets haven’t been ruled out. Presently, the top rate of 33 cents in the dollar kicks in at $70,000. As incomes rise, more people find themselves earning enough to start paying the top tax rate.

“People are getting bumped into the top personal rate without doing too much,” says Mr Key.

Asked if beefing up the accommodation supplement was on the cards, particularly in areas where rents have risen sharply, Mr Key said: “That may well be right.”

He hasn’t yet decided whether any changes would come in Budget 2017 or used to woo voters in next year’s election campaign.

They would also play second-fiddle to the Government’s main priorities.

“The Government’s objectives are… One, grow surpluses. Two, repay debt. Thirdly, get debt to 20 percent of GDP – probably not much below that – by 2020,” said Mr Key.

“We’re on track to do all those things. Surpluses are rising, we think we’ll be under 20 percent of GDP. That’s the advice we get from Treasury.”

So it sounds like there may be some modest tax adjustments to address threshold creep but more targeting of low income families and less tax cuts for people with higher incomes.

Are family carers getting a fair deal?

The Nation this morning will talk “to family carers.. three years on from a new law to pay them are they getting a fair deal?”

Andrew Geddis previews this at Pundit in A little something for the weekend …

The Nation this weekend is telling the story of family carers of disabled adult relatives and the pretty shabby way they’ve been treated over the years. And it looks like Sam Lotu-liga just doesn’t want to talk about that. 

Back in 2013, after being told by the Court of Appeal that it was acting unlawfully, the National Government passed the Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013.

Its purpose was to provide a statutory basis to allow for the payment of family members who look after their disabled adult relatives.

But it also included a provision that tried to stop anyone who thinks that whatever policy the Government may create under that Act is unlawful from going to court to challenge it.

Geddis details some of the details around the law change.

Furthermore, it’s an issue that is still a live one today. There’s lots of families caring for disabled adult relatives who either aren’t accessing the payments the Government grudgingly made available because the policy doesn’t work very well, or if they are accessing these, are being paid only a minimum wage for work that private providers get in excess of $20 an hour to perform.

And so I’m very glad that Newshub’s The Nation is telling the story of this law and its aftermath this weekend (sneak promo teaser here). It looks like it features Sam Lotu-liga walking out on an interview rather than defend his Government’s actions

Lotu-liga has struggled with difficult issues in his portfolios.

Caring for disabled adult relatives at home is a huge burden, it is relentless and a permanent arrangement.

If anyone deserves decent support from the Government it is the committed families who care for their own. It would be more expensive if the State had to take over and do everything.

Dirty deal in Mt Roskill by-election

The Nation had a debate on the Mt Roskill by-election, but as is common with media they only featured two of the candidates. This is very disappointing favouritism donated to the two biggest parties, one reason why they remain large.

New candidates and new parties are at a major disadvantage as it is due to parties in Parliament abusing their taxpayer funded resources to electioneer.

Paddy Gower introduced the debate as “democracy time” and also mentions dirty deals. Unbalanced exposure is a dirty deal for the candidates they leave out.

The Nation is openly favouring established parties.


Michael Wood says he won’t stand for any other electorate or enter parliament on the list

Parmjeet Parmar says she won’t stand anywhere else if she doesn’t win Mt Roskill

Parmar also said pointed out she stood in Mt Roskill last election.

I tweeted to @TheNation about their dirty deal for the other candidates. They responded:

Seven people standing we just can’t fit everyone in

That’s a poor excuse. It is a dirty deal for the other candidates. Democracy isn’t supposed to be at the media’s convenience.


Andrew Little on The Nation

Labour leader Andrew Little will be interviewed on The Nation this morning, coinciding with Labour’s conference this weekend.

Skills Shortage Levy – for those employers who don’t take on apprentices or train employees.

How much? Little can’t quantify it, but says it shares the cost and shares the risk in different industries.

He says it is not effectively an immigration levy. Pushed on whether it’s a deterrent to immigration he talks around it. He now says it’s not a counter to immigration.

So is it revenue gathering? To be distributed to industries to improve training. But he gives no details.

On to the Mount Roskill by-election: is Little worried? He responds with general campaign waffle.

@TheNationTV3: Little says he’s pleased with the campaign so far in Mt Roskill, and says says he supports companies reporting their gender pay gap, but he won’t commit to a 50/50 cabinet after the 2017 election.

Jackie Blue will also be interviewed about “Should a woman get 86 cents for every dollar a man makes – how is that fair ?”

Blue is challenging political parties to commit to a 50/50 cabinet after the next election.

. says has to bring three more women into cabinet to have gender balance

Legally enforceable quotas for Parliament? Considering it.

Also for enforceable quotas for companies.


The Nation – retirement, mental health

Today on

Can we afford to keep retiring at 65? We talk to and

An affordability problem that National remains in denial of.

Past and future growth of the elderly population

Between 1901 and 1951, the number of New Zealanders aged 65 years and over increased almost six-fold, from 31,000 to 177,000. Over the next 48 years, it grew by another 151 percent to reach 446,000 in 1999. This was much faster than for the rest of the population: for instance the number of children under 15 years and those in the working ages (15-64 years), increased by 54 and 109 percent respectively.

Between 1950-52 and 1995-97, the expectation of life at age 65 years increased by 2.7 years for males and 4.2 years for females, to 15.5 and 19.0 years, respectively (Statistics New Zealand, 1998).

The elderly’s share of New Zealand’s population has trebled from 4 percent in 1901 to over 12 percent in 1999 (see Figure 1).

Graph, Elderly Population.

Latest projections indicate that the population aged 65 years and over is expected to grow by about 100,000 during the current decade, to reach 552,000 by 2011. The pace of increase is projected to pick up after the year 2011, when the large baby boom generation begins to enter this age group. For instance, between 2011 and 2021 the elderly population is projected to grow by about 200,000 and in the following ten years by 230,000.

By 2051, there will be over 1.14 million people aged 65 years and over in New Zealand. This represents an increase of 715,000 or 166 percent over the base (1996) population. They are expected to make up 25.5 percent (or 1 in every 4) of all New Zealanders (4.49 million). At present there are about half as many elderly New Zealanders as children. By 2051, there are projected to be at least 60 percent more elderly than children.

Is our mental health sector in crisis, and is an inquiry needed?

This is a serious issue. Time and resources would be better directed at remedies rather than yet another inquiry. The term crisis is confusing.

If you are personally in crisis:

  1. If this is an emergency phone 111
  2. Or go to your nearest hospital emergency department (ED)
  3. Or phone your local DHB Mental Health Crisis Team (CATT Team) or ring Healthline 0800 611 116

  4. Or if you need to talk to someone else:

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

Suicide Prevention Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOK0)

Youthline – 0800 376 633

Samaritans – 800 726 666

Is Scientology a religion or a rort? We talk to about his new book “Fair Game”.



Can wrongful convictions be avoided?

Wrongful convictions are a blight on any judicial system. Obviously they should be avoided as much as possible.

An often cited expression from English jurist Thomas Blackstone in Commentaries on the Laws of England (published in the 1760s) :

It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer

The reality is that many innocent people suffer by being prosecuted for crimes they didn’t commit, even if they are eventually found not guilty.

And some suffer substantially more when wrongfully convicted. Two prominent cases in New Zealand that were eventually put as right as is possible were Arthur Allan Thomas and Teina Pora. Other people convicted controversially remain in prison.

One uncorrected apparent travesty of justice is the Peter Ellis case. This looks like a very unsafe verdict, but our judicial system and our politicians have been unwilling to address it adequately.

Once a person is convicted is our judicial system stacked too much against those who are innocent? The eventual clearing of Thomas and Pora were very difficult, lengthy and costly processes.

The Nation looked into all of this in Calls for new body to end wrongful convictions

It’s unrealistic to think that wrongful convictions can be avoided altogether but there must a better way to determine when mistakes have been made.

Ministry of Justice comments on royal of prerogative mercy process (RPM) 

The New Zealand RPM process operates within, and needs to be evaluated within, the context of our own particular legal system. What may work in another jurisdiction is not necessarily required or appropriate in New Zealand’s system.

The New Zealand RPM process provides a constitutional safeguard against miscarriages of justice. The process is effective – in cases such as David Dougherty and David Bain convictions have been referred back to the Courts and ultimately quashed. In fact, the referral rate in New Zealand is approximately 9.25 percent, which is higher than the Scottish CCRC (at 5.95 percent). 

The particular form of the RPM in New Zealand (exercised by the Governor-General on the advice of the Minister of Justice) reflects our constitutional arrangements. It respects the constitutional separation of powers in two important ways:

  • If a matter has been fully determined by the court system (including the exercise of appeal rights) the executive branch of Government will be reluctant to interfere as this would tend to compromise the finality of jury and judicial decisions and undermine the credibility of the criminal justice system.
  • However, if a new matter arises that was not able to be considered by the court process and it appears that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, the Minister of Justice will normally recommends that the Governor-General refer the case back to the appeal courts. This is because the courts (not the Government) are responsible for deciding questions of criminal responsibility.

The ministry’s role is to assess applications and provide independent advice to the Minister of Justice. Accordingly the ministry cannot gather evidence or make an applicant’s case for them.

While it is true that the ministry does not have statutory powers to compel people to provide information, this has not inhibited our ability to gather information and the overall consideration of RPM applications. Police and other Government agencies routinely co-operate with requests for information and assistance, as do counsel for the applicant and the Crown, and the applicant’s previous lawyers. Applicants are able to apply for relevant information under criminal disclosure rules, the OIA or Privacy Act, and can ultimately have recourse to the courts.

Where necessary a senior lawyer may be engaged to interview witnesses, and expert commentary and analysis will also be sought if necessary.

We are not aware of any examples where a deserving applicant has been unable to challenge their conviction (as opposed to disagreeing with the outcome). Many of the problems that commentators allege appear to be theoretical.

Governor General: The Royal Prerogative of Mercy

The Nation on immigration and wrongful convictions

This morning on The Nation:


Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and Green Party co-leader James Shaw on migration levels. Are the Government’s move to clamp down on a some categories this week a knee jerk reaction?

Immigration Minister says this week’s changes to immigration rules won’t affect the pressure on Auckland.

The data about health care costs used when the Govt closed off the migrant’s parent category is 3-4 years old.

Gower says that the parent category changes look like a cheap shot.

The community felt that closing the parent categories is to shut out Indian and Chinese parents.

Gower says that the changes look like a reaction to polls and to public pressure. Woodhouse denies it.

James Shaw “we think the country needs a more sustainable immigration policy” and would make immigration numbers 1% of the population, which is around 45,000 but that would include returning New Zealanders.

Shaw saws that the top line net immigration figure would be 17,000 (down from 70,000).

Shaw says they will turn the tap on and off to balance Kiwi movements. I don’t think immigration is easy to adjust at whim.

“The whole idea here is to smooth out the peaks and troughs”.

Immigration figures would need to be eased down slowly to prevent negative effects on growth.

Now Shaw says they would need to “manage it down slowly”.  He talks about “smoothing it down”. I think that’s easier in their than in practice.

Shaw says Labour “seems comfortable” with the Green plans. Is Labour on board with the Green’s new policy? “You’d have to ask them”.

There is a petition online from the Chinese community wanting the Government to reconsider the parent category


Wrongful Convictions

Is the way our justice system deals with wrongful convictions good enough? has a story you won’t want to miss

Lawyer Julie-Anne Kincade says tunnel vision can sometimes be a problem for Police.

And they remember Helen Kelly.

The Nation – vulnerable children and Hobson’s Pledge

This morning on The Nation (TV3 at 9.30 am, also Sunday at 10.00 am):

Andrew Becroft on the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children… is it the fix we need?

Becroft is the Children’s Commissioner – website.

Andrew Becroft says we’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise the youth justice age.

Does Becroft share ‘s concerns about resources? We ought to be able to cope with slight adjustment.

After this interview, ‘s Becroft is meeting with the Indian Association about the youth justice age.

The youth justice system is not milo-drinking kumbaya says Becrof.

NZ needs some do-able targets for child poverty says Becroft. Becroft wants to see a 5-10% reduction of child poverty by the end of next year.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right” again.

“Unless this agency is resourced properly upfront… we’re just setting ourselves up for another review” says Becroft on new Ministry.

Says is not sufficiently resourced, and he’s talking with Minister Tolley.

Don Brash and Labour’s Louisa Wall go head to head on his new lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.

Hobson’s Pledge website: “He iwi tahi tatou : We are now One People”

That’s not really a pledge, it’s a vague statement from one person who was involved which hardly represents ‘One people’.

Louisa Wall is an MP well down Labour’s pecking order (ahead of only one MP who hasn’t announced they are quitting). She was prominent during the marriage equality bill debate but otherwise has a low profile.

Wall is responsible for:

  • Spokesperson for Courts
  • Spokesperson for Youth Affairs
  • Associate Justice Spokesperson (Legal Aid)
  • Associate Sport and Recreation Spokesperson

So not sure why she has been put forward here.

Nanaia Mahuta is spokesperson for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Peeni Henare has several Maori spokesperson roles.

There is also a report on the anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

Also something on the Trans-Pacific Partnership apparently.



The Nation – Key, Clark, UN

On The Nation this morning:

Patrick Gower sits down with Prime Minister John Key and former PM Helen Clark at the UN in New York.

Audrey Young interviewed Key in New York, including on Clark and her UN bid: John Key among friends in the big apple

And should 17 year olds be tried as adults? The Police Association’s Greg O’Connor and Victoria University law lecturer Nessa Lynch discuss…

  and are on the panel…

and are on the Twitter panel

…at 9.30am on TV3.

From @TheNationZTV3 on the Key interview:

Key says big countries were telling him choosing to debate Syria on the Security Council was a risky move.

Why don’t we do something militarily in Syria? Key says you have to have the military capabilities.

Does Russia have blood on their hands over Syria? “In my view, yeah” Key says.

NZ spies aren’t involved in a co-ordinated team planning airstrikes, but we “gather intelligence where it makes sense”.

Why don’t we do more for refugees? Key says we’re helping with a political solution in Syria to help them go home.

UNHCR says NZ had 0.3/1000 refugees last year, US 0.85/1000, Aus 1.54/1000

Key says his intention is to stay for a whole fourth term… if he wins it.

Key “not as negative” to think a political resolution in Syria is still years away. Big call!

On ‘17 year olds be tried as adults”:

Nessa Lynch from says there’s not the same emphasis on the causes of offending for 17 year olds in the adult system.

Greg O’Connor from says 55% of youth aid workers are opposed to raising the youth justice age

He says it’s a pragmatic concern – that Police won’t be well resourced enough for the move to work.

Dr Lynch says all the data says victims are much more satisfied with the youth justice process than the adult system.

And there’s a “safety valve” for moving serious offenders to the adult court.

O’Connor: New Zealand police “creaking at the seams”. And that gangs deliberately use 16 year olds for things like burglary as there is less risk of severe penalties.

Greg O’Connor says 17 year-olds change behaviour when they know the punishments are worse.. I call bollocks on that.

Some of this comment from O’Connor is pretty out there. Facts or beating it up to prove a point?

Most often based on police officer feedback rather than systematic research. That’s a real flaw.

The Nation – housing again

Today on The Nation:

We take a look at the housing crisis. talks to about whether the Govt’s doing enough on social housing.

As Akl’s average house price breaks the million dollar barrier how do we hit the brakes? and John Bolton weigh in.

, , and are on the panel, with and on the Twitter panel

Migration is cyclical. Unaffordable prices cyclical AND structural.


Social housing stock in New Zealand


Affordability has been worsening for decades.