So was it really a bonfire when incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins put a match to several of the Ardern government’s policies?
Certainly his supporters (and some within the media commentariat) hailed the move as being bold, although the ACT party argued that far from setting a bonfire of his own policies, “he has burned a little undergrowth and left a few weeds smoldering for the future”.
Critics were not slow to point out that Hipkins had done nothing to rectify those “achievements” in his own portfolio of falling standards of education and rising truancy in primary schools, not to mention the disaster of the polytechnics merger. Continue reading “More smoke than flames in new Prime Minister’s bonfire?” →
First, there was good news for low-paid workers, although it wasn’t so good for employers. The government announced it was raising the minimum wage 6 per cent from $20 to $21.20 an hour from April 1.
Next day, the government was issuing something it presumably regarded as good advice for New Zealanders in an overseas trouble spot, but this had a disconcerting dimension to it.
These New Zealanders were urged to get out of Ukraine fast as Russian troops amass on the border. The snag is that getting back into New Zealand won’t be as easy as getting out of Ukraine.
The rise in the minimum wage was described by Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Brett O’Riley as a “kick in the guts” for many businesses. This was ironic – he contended – because business groups had been discussing with Treasury what extra support might be available for sectors struggling with constraints imposed by the red-setting response to Covid-19.
But one business sectors probably was mollified by the news it was being given special government help. The Events Transition Support Payment scheme will be extended to 31 January 2023 and expanded to include business events.
Another sector, digital technologies, would have been distracted by the release of a draft Industry Transformation Plan for consultation. Continue reading “Govt orders wages up and urges Kiwis out – or how to heap a burden on bosses while making escape from Ukraine a dilemma” →
Deputy PM Minister Grant Robertson in Parliament this week claimed full marks for the Ardern government’s bringing unemployment down to its lowest rate in New Zealand’s history.
As he put it:
“In the face of a one-in-100-year health and economic shock, it was this government that stepped up and provided the support for New Zealanders to stay in work, and today we stand here with the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand’s history, at 3.2%. That means, though, in turn that there are 2.83 million in work today.
“We have under 100,000 people unemployed in New Zealand, and that — at the end of a pandemic that has rocked people and has hurt some businesses and some sectors—is a remarkable result”.
True, according to the Household Labour Force Survey which provides us with employment and unemployment data each quarter.
But Stats NZ, in charge of the survey, acknowledges its shortcomings. Among them: Continue reading “Deputy PM claims kudos for low unemployment rate – so who is putting up their hands for lift in jobseeker beneficiaries?” →
Ruth Suzanne Dyson, a former Labour Cabinet Minister, was among the recipients of Queen’s Birthday honours announced yesterday. She is to become a Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Member of Parliament and to people with disabilities.
But whoa there, says Lindsay Mitchell on her blog – Dyson deserves diddly squat.
She recalled Dyson as …
The minister who forced the minimum wage on sheltered workshops in 2005.
She was warned about the effect but bullocked on.
Point of Order suspects Mitchell was referring to the repeal in 2007 of the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion 1960, which had exempted sheltered workshops and similar enterprises from affording their disabled clients minimum employment conditions, particularly the minimum wage.
Under the new legislation, employment opportunities for people with disabilities in segregated settings would continue, but wages would be paid according to the work people did rather than the place where people worked.
Four years ago a RNZ Spectrum documentary examined the consequences of this repeal. Continue reading “Dyson gets gong for work for people with disabilities – but a blogger recalls what happened to sheltered workshop in Hutt” →
When a journal as influential as “The Listener” flags the great divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” as the legacy of the Covid pandemic, it’s an issue which should be consuming the attention of every politician — especially the politicians in a government with ministers who see themselves wearing the mantle of Michael Joseph Savage.
The Ardern government has not hesitated to throw money at the problem, as other governments have done, and massive stimulus from the Reserve Bank has helped get the economy back on track.
But, as economist Cameron Bagrie points out in “The Listener’s” study, not everyone has been a winner. He says the K-shaped recovery has exposed pre-existing tension points such as race and gender and who bears the brunt of a lift in unemployment.
“There’s the perceived gap between the haves and the have-nots, with soaring house prices at the epicentre. And at the very time we are dealing with that, the financial cost of our ageing population is rising rapidly. By 2035, a massive two-thirds of welfare benefit spending is projected to be spent on NZ Superannuation—and that’s not counting the growing health costs”, says Bagrie.
Covid has exacerbated inequality and driven holes in the social welfare safety net. Continue reading “Widening gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is the burning issue for Ardern’s government to tackle” →
Phew! So many announcements have poured from the Beehive in the past 24 hours, it must be challenging for reporters, commentators and analysts to keep up.
While so much was going on, the Government announced the agreement reached on the future of Ihumato and the price tag which is the cost of the Prime Minister’s highly contentious decision to mollify a vociferous bunch of land protesters by intervening. Or (if you prefer) meddling.
The figure is $29.9 million.
But we should brace for more because of the precedent that has been set.
The best that can be said is that the government books are in better shape now to absorb the price of the state’s involvement than seemed likely a few weeks ago.
The PM – notably – has not added her name to the joint statement on the land dispute that was issued today.
The signatories did include Grant Robertson, deputy prime minister, who has also issued two self-congratulatory statements of an economic nature as Minister of Finance. Continue reading “PM’s intervening in Ihumato land dispute (or was it meddling?) results in a $29.9m settlement – for now” →