While our Finance Minister enjoys the Games, our living costs are high jumping and too many Kiwis are tripping on the hurdles

Deputy  Prime  Minister  Grant Robertson had  some  fun  last  week  at  the  expense  of  National  leader  Christopher Luxon  for  holidaying  in Hawaii  while  a  Facebook entry  indicated  he  was in  Te  Puke.

This  week  Robertson  is  relishing the  spectacle of  the  Commonwealth  Games, and  the   achievements  of  New Zealand’s  sports stars.

He  may  even  succeed  in  forgetting,  at  least  for  a  short  while,  the  economic  mess that is mounting in  NZ – not  that   he  will   concede  he  has  had anything  to  do  with   inflation  breaking  into a  gold-medal-winning gallop  on his  watch.

Moreover, he  keeps  insisting it  has  already  past  its  prime.

Only  last  week  he  was  telling  his  acolytes  in  Parliament that  while the  government is acutely aware that many New Zealanders are doing it tough,

“… we are taking action to support them.

“We’ve boosted the incomes of seniors, students in low-income families, while a million New Zealanders are receiving the winter energy payment. From next Monday, the targeted cost of living payment will deliver around $27 a week for low and middle income New Zealanders aged 18 years and over who don’t get the winter energy payment.

“In response to high fuel prices, which have been significantly driven by the war in the Ukraine, we have cut the fuel excise duty and road-user charges and halved public transport costs. Continue reading “While our Finance Minister enjoys the Games, our living costs are high jumping and too many Kiwis are tripping on the hurdles”

The PM will return to a country where the flagging economy is running out of the resources it needs to grow

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will almost  certainly  have  earned  a  bounce  upwards  in  her party’s  polling after  her mission  in  Europe, where,  as a  result of  her  “Captain’s  Call”,  New Zealand  has  accepted  the  terms  of  the  EU free  trade  deal.

The  outcome is   positive  for  some  sectors, though  not for  the  dairy  and  meat  producers. NZ’s  negotiating team,  led   by  the  redoubtable  Vangelis Vitalis,  did  a  remarkable  job in securing  as  much  as  they  did,  but  the  disappointment  over  the  lack of  any  significant gains  for the  dairy  and  meat  industries   could have  justified  the  government  flagging  it  away.

If   the  plaudits  for  the  government  are somewhat muted, it’s on the  home  front that black   clouds   have been  gathering.

Those  may dull  the  homecoming  for  Ardern after she engages in more trade-related talks in Australia.  The  reports   on  the  economy awaiting her are  downbeat, if not chilling. Continue reading “The PM will return to a country where the flagging economy is running out of the resources it needs to grow”

Here’s the challenge – branding the RBNZ a success when inflation has raced far beyond the 2-3 per cent target zone

David Farrar has drawn our attention to a splendid job opportunity at the Reserve Bank.

No, not to pitch in to meet the challenge set by The Governor and the Treasurer’s agreement that the appropriate target for monetary policy is to achieve an inflation rate of 2–3 per cent, on average, over time.

Rather, the RBNZ intends to appoint a Team Lead Brand and Design, to lead

“… a small but busy team of design specialists to work actively and collaboratively across the organisation to produce engaging brand and related content.”

Alongside this the appointee will:

  • Develop and maintain the RBNZ’s brand and design strategy
  • Work closely with others to plan and support the development of website content, social media content, initiatives and campaigns
  • Ensure the design team has a clear programme of work and is efficiently managing daily production workflow
  • Produce engaging collateral and digital content – this is a hands-on design role as well as a leadership opportunity
  • Evolve and maintain brand and design processes, templates, assets and guidelines and ensure these are communicated and understood across the business.

But Farrar raises a good question in the headline of his Kiwiblog post: Why does the Reserve Bank have a brand team? Continue reading “Here’s the challenge – branding the RBNZ a success when inflation has raced far beyond the 2-3 per cent target zone”

Mortgage holders will wince as RBNZ takes another shot at bringing inflation back into the target zone

The  Reserve Bank  has  raised  the  official cash  rate  to  2% – but will  that  slay  the  inflationary  beast roaming  the  countryside.? 

Point of  Order   doesn’t  think  so.

Reserve Bank governor  Adrian  Orr made  the right  belligerent  noises  as  he  fired  the  bullet  today  but  he  needed  a  fiscal -policy volley  from  Finance Minister Grant Robertson  to  demolish   the  monster.

Inflation, according  to Robertson,  is  all  due  to overseas  factors — the  war  in the  Ukraine, supply  chain  congestion,  China’s  economic  problems,  you  name  it  — but  little  has  been  done  to  contain  it in  the  term of  the  Ardern  government.

As Professor  McCulloch pointed out  in the  NZ  Herald with reference to a  document  signed  off   and “agreed by”  the Finance Minister and Reserve Bank Governor, it says inflation in NZ is to be held at 1 to 3 percent over the medium term. Continue reading “Mortgage holders will wince as RBNZ takes another shot at bringing inflation back into the target zone”

Budget 2022: Robertson must weigh the need to curb state spending against the urge to win popular support

The Ardern Government’s  popularity  appears  to  be  waning, according  to  recent  opinion polls – and  even  news  media  which previously were  unduly friendly  (no doubt influenced by the succour from state subsidies)  are   now  finding   flaws  in  ministerial performance.

A  column in Stuff  by  its  experienced  Kevin  Norquay has skewered  the  Ardern  team’s  propensity to  call  on New Zealanders to “be kind”, “listen to the science”, and boast “we’re so transparent”.

Norquay  likened the  Ardern-Robertson government to a “friend” who would like you to look the other way while it gets on with doing what’s good for its own best interests, such as getting re-elected. Continue reading “Budget 2022: Robertson must weigh the need to curb state spending against the urge to win popular support”

Buzz from the Beehive – the people are being consulted (hurrah) but most must wait to see Jackson’s “Declaration Plan”

A government aiming to “tweak” our democratic governance arrangements – in a programme  which our PM says requires  “sophistication” – has declared its readiness to listen to the people.  On some things, at least.

On the health-restructuring front it has announced

“… how New Zealanders will have a real voice in determining the health services provided in their community as part of the new health system”.

Health Minister Andrew Little said this when announcing nine locality network pilots intended to improve the delivery of healthcare in local communities.

On a programme of more far-reaching constitutional significance, the government has completed the first stage of a “two-step engagement process to develop a Declaration Plan”.

A Declaration Plan?  This is something on which Māori leaders and interest groups have been consulted, which is ominously instructive.  Drafting will now commence in partnership with the National Iwi Chairs Forum’s Pou Tikanga and the Human Rights Commission before it is shared for public consultation later this year. So just be patient, folks – your turn will come, presumably well after you can change things much.

But this consulting caper hasn’t been allowed to go too far.  In Tauranga the commissioners who displaced elected councillors  have been reappointed by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Latest from the Beehive

22 APRIL 2022

Commissioners reappointed to Tauranga City Council

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the reappointment of four commissioners to the Tauranga City Council.

Next steps in Declaration Plan

“We’ve now completed the first stage of the two-step engagement process to develop a Declaration Plan.

Public Media entity Establishment Board appointments

The Minister for Broadcasting and Media has confirmed the nine-member Establishment Board to lead the work on creating a new public media entity in New Zealand.

Prime Minister has productive meeting with Prime Minister of Japan

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a productive meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo today.

Joint Statement: Japan and Aotearoa New Zealand: a Strategic Cooperative Partnership for Common Peace, Security and Prosperity

The Prime Minister of Japan His Excellency KISHIDA Fumio and the Prime Minister of New Zealand the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern held a productive and substantive meeting in Tokyo on 21 April 2022.

21 APRIL 2022

NZ, Japan team up on renewable energy

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today welcomed two renewable energy initiatives that highlight the growing partnership between Japan and New Zealand as both countries work towards a greener future.

Veterans Minister congratulates RSA on 100 years since first Poppy Appeal

Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri has congratulated the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) on 100 years since the first Poppy Appeal in New Zealand, held on April 24, 1922.

New technology for e-waste switched on

A new state-of-the-art machine that sorts and shreds electronic waste has officially started operation in Auckland today.

CPI figures highlight global economic challenges

Further increases in consumer prices are a reminder of the current global economic challenges and the need for responsible fiscal policy in New Zealand, Grant Robertson said today.

Government supports more people off benefit

The Government’s response to COVID-19 has helped keep people in work, with March Quarter Benefit statistics showing a further fall in the number of people receiving a main benefit and jobseeker assistance.

Speech

Andrew Little Locality network announcement speech, Levin | Taitoko, 21 April 2022

Locality planning networks are an essential feature of the health reforms which, subject to the legislation passing in Parliament, will take effect on 1 July.

Health Reform – Govt ensures local say in health services

The Government has announced how New Zealanders will have a real voice in determining the health services provided in their community as part of the new health system.

Overseas forces are to blame for the surge in our living costs? But non-tradables inflation (up 6 per cent) then must be explained…

In the wake of the latest inflation figures being published today, showing the consumers price index has risen at its fastest pace in some 30 years, the burning question is whether we  have  a  cost  of  living  crisis.

Opposition  parties  (inevitably) seized on the annual 6.9 per cent CPI increase to insist prices  are  out of  control.  National Party leader  Christopher  Luxon says prices   are  a  “silent  thief in  your  pocket”.

On  the other side  of  the political fence, the  Council of Trade Unions contends that inflation  is  being  driven by the price  of  property  and  the  price  of  fuel.

The man who is  running the economy accepts  no  responsibility.   Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson   says  the increases in consumer prices are a “reminder of the current global economic challenges” – but he  adds, almost as an afterthought, they  do  show the need for responsible fiscal policy in New Zealand.

Whatever the huffing and puffing politically, the  hard  fact  is that a  New  Zealander  who  took out  a  30-year  mortgage a  year  ago fixed  for  a  year and  who is  now  looking  to refix could  find  monthly  payments  go  up a formidable 33 per cent. Continue reading “Overseas forces are to blame for the surge in our living costs? But non-tradables inflation (up 6 per cent) then must be explained…”

RBNZ on the back foot as inflation rises – but consumers are struggling on a sticky wicket, too, as food costs soar

Reserve Bank “not in a  good  place”, admits  governor.   This  was  the  headline  Radio NZ  News  ran over  a  report of  RBNZ governor Adrian  Orr  speaking  to an International Monetary Fund  seminar.

He  might have  added  that the average  Kiwi consumer  is  “not  in  a  good  place”, either,   when doing the  daily  shopping,  with  food  costs soaring  and  inflation  rising at  a faster  rate  than  it  has  for nearly  30  years.

But isn’t  it  Orr’s  job to  keep  inflation  under  control – or can he pass the buck (as it shrinks in value) to the Monetary Policy Committee?

And whatever happened to the inflation target?

Orr  does  concede that  the  RBNZ  was caught on the back foot,  but argues  that was the same for many other central banks, as a  result of supply chain shocks and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which had exacerbated inflation pressures.

Moreover, he  contends the RBNZ had been “reasonably aggressive” in ending its bond-buying programme last year and moving to lift the official cash rate,  and is also balancing risks. Continue reading “RBNZ on the back foot as inflation rises – but consumers are struggling on a sticky wicket, too, as food costs soar”

Finance cheer-leader is looking after us – keeping Govt pressure on Russia to bring down oil prices is among his assurances

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is refusing  to relinquish his  role   as  the  country’s  number  one  cheer-leader,  even  as  economists  see  dark  clouds  gathering,  inflation  hits  levels  not  seen  for  30  years, and  consumer  confidence slumps.

As  Finance Minister, he  sees  his  role  as being  the  leader  of  the  band in  singing  the  praises  of  New Zealand’s “hard  workers”, thriving   businesses,  and  general  economic  well-being.  Not  for  him  the  dirges  of  some of  his  predecessors about  falling productivity,  the  need to  tighten our   belts, roll up  our  sleeves,  create  new  jobs and  raise living standards.

Here  he  was  yesterday  answering  another  patsy  from  who  else  but  Dr  Duncan Webb  (was  he  elected  expressly for  this  job?):

Hansard records the exchange: Continue reading “Finance cheer-leader is looking after us – keeping Govt pressure on Russia to bring down oil prices is among his assurances”

Bigger benefits from tomorrow – bravo! But they might not buy as much as before

Ministers  have been celebrating  their  wisdom in raising  benefits  substantially from  April 1.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni led  the  chorus by  telling Parliament it is the biggest lift to main benefits in decades.  For many years, the rate of main benefits has fallen further behind the average wage, placing  many people, including children, in undue hardship, she said.

That  was  an unusual admission, given the  Labour  Party has been in office  for  four years.

So  now  the  good  news:

“In addition to indexing main benefits to wage growth, we are further lifting main benefits so they don’t fall further behind. The Ministry of Social Development’s analysis shows that from 1 April, a couple on a benefit with children will now be, on average, $237 a week better off than they were when the Government took office in 2017.

“As a Government, we have worked hard to lift as many children out of poverty as possible, and while raising the level of main benefit is only one way to achieve our goal, it is an incredibly important step in the right direction”. Continue reading “Bigger benefits from tomorrow – bravo! But they might not buy as much as before”