How the Nats are drawing blood by needling the govt on economic issues as living costs surge

Opposition parties appear to have thrust the government on to the defensive on inflation and the  cost-of-living crisis  and are widening the  attack to  find  chinks  in  the  Finance Minister’s armour on  his  handling  of  the  economy.

They have built  a  platform   for   the   forthcoming  budget  debate  which  will  ensure  it is  not  as  one-sided  as  in  earlier  years of the  Ardern  government.

Robertson even conceded in Parliament yesterday “we know that New Zealanders are doing it tough as global factors push up the cost of living”.

He quickly added that the  government is continuing to support low- and middle-income earners through reductions in their fuel bills and income increases.

For National’s  relatively  new  leadership  team, the  cost-of- living  crisis  has  been the  issue  that  has  allowed them  to  sharpen  the  parliamentary  skills  needed   to  spearhead  their  roles   in  exposing weakness  in  the  government policies. Continue reading “How the Nats are drawing blood by needling the govt on economic issues as living costs surge”

Robertson is singing of robustness as GDP rebounds – but costs are surging and the balance of payments has worsened

Finance  Minister  Grant Robertson   is  still  singing merrily from  the  same  songbook  on  how  well  New Zealand   is  doing  under  his  economic  stewardship,  even  as   the  fires  of  inflation rage out  of  control.

In Parliament yesterday,  he  gamely  stood  on the  burning  deck repeating  his  mantra on  how  well  the  NZ  economy is  doing when he was questioned by  Labour’s Dr Duncan Webb  – or rather, was thrown patsies.

Manufacturing sales  had  jumped  12% in the December  quarter, the  labour  market remained strong, job ads  were near record  highs, reopening the  borders would assist the  tourist  and  hospitality industries…

Robertson’s buoyancy  ebbed,  but  only  slightly,   as  National’s new finance spokesperson,  Nicola Willis, sought  to  puncture  the  balloon.   She  wanted   to  know whether  he  agreed  with ANZ economist Miles Workman that “inflation is now running laps around wage growth”, and “households are going backwards at an alarming rate”. Continue reading “Robertson is singing of robustness as GDP rebounds – but costs are surging and the balance of payments has worsened”

Righting the Nats may require pitching to voters in the centre – but that need not mean dumping free-enterprise principles

 

National’s   new  leadership   team had  no  need  to  worry  that, as  they stepped  into  office and into campaigning to replace the Ardern government at the next election, they  would suffer  from a shortage of  advice.  Wherever  they looked   they  could  see mountains  of  it.  

There  was  this  kind (from  a  newspaper  columnist) :

“ In short, new National leader Chris Luxon will likely have to come up with policies and strategies to tackle immediate economic headwinds in five areas: a slow economic bounceback, immigration, a slowing China, tourism, and inflation.”

Or this  kind  (from former National Prime  Minister  Jim  Bolger) who said a “disappointing”  National  has  to  reimagine capitalism because   social  inequality is  pushing  countries to  revolution.

Bolger said the dominant global economic model was dividing society.

“Some are getting obscenely rich and others are going to food kitchens.”  Bolger said Labour was not seriously addressing social inequality.”

Parliamentary veteran Winston Peters, once a National Party deputy leader and MP before forming NZ First,  weighed in. What is  needed, most importantly, is a real vision for NZ, he opined from his (somewhat lonely these days) pulpit.

The Dominion-Post  was  at  its most  omniscient:  NZ  needs  Luxon  to  right   the  Nats.

And  to  make  it  plain exactly  where  it  stood,  the  next  days’ edition  carried  as  a  lead  story the  revelation that

“.. soaring  prices  mean new  National  Party  leader  Christopher Luxon  is  effectively  earning about $90,000  a  week  in capita; gains  from his 7 properties which give him the biggest property portfolio of  any  sitting  MP”.

Point of  Order  resists  the  temptation   to  join  the throng in  offering  advice to the  new  leaders.  But we wonder  whether  Chris Luxon and Nicola Willis are  as convinced  as  the  would-be  advisers appear to  be  that the original  principles  of  the  National Party are  so  shop-worn   they  should be discarded.

It  is  true,  of  course,  that  Labour  has  long departed  from the  principles  on which  it  was  founded (remember   the  “socialisation  of  the means  of production, distribution   and  exchange”)  which it  found both unpopular  and, more  to  the point,  unworkable.

That  doesn’t  mean to say that  some  people don’t believe this system   is  superior  to capitalism.  Yet  it  was  clear  that,  in  an  imperfect  world, most  people  given   the  choice  in the days  when Communist Russia espoused the Leninist philosophy preferred  to  live   in the  West.  The Iron Curtain was designed to keep Soviet-bloc people in, not to keep the capitalists out.

Returning to  modern-day NZ, the  question is  about how to win the  middle  ground  in NZ  politics, which – thanks to Geoffrey  Palmer’s  adoption  of the MMP electoral system – a party must do to win  enough seats to govern at general elections.)  National may well be tempted to at least take a hard look at its original  founding principles  of free-market  capitalism  in a property owning democracy.

Critics  may  argue (as   Bolger  does) that some  people  are  becoming  obscenely rich  and  others  are  going to food  kitchens, but  one  may also look to  the  farming  industry as  it  has evolved  in  NZ  for another example  of the operation of  the free enterprise  system.  It  is  proving  not only  to be the backbone of  the  NZ  economy, but  it is a virtual saviour in  terms  of  export earnings  as  Covid-19 renders  others  like the tourist industry  almost  impotent in  terms  of earning  overseas exchange.

And  now  there  is  evolving an equally  successful outcome   for the  capitalist structure to farming  in  the  hi-tech  industry. As   Southland-born Peter  Beck, founder of the spectacularly successful RocketLab, said this week:

“Right now  the tech  sector in NZ  is  raging…I have a lot to do with the venture capital, it’s  the  best I’ve  ever  seen it and  funding a  lot  of  startups. And  I have to  say that the  quality  and  quantity of  startups  now  is the  best I’ve  ever  seen  it”.    

It’s  no surprise  that “obscenely rich” individuals like  Peter  Beck are backers of new  hi-tech  ventures — this  is  what  capitalists  do — and  they  encourage  others  to  do  the  same. The  theory  is  that  it is  better  to  aim at lifting  all boats.   

Point  of  Order suspects  that’s what  Luxon and  Willis want  to  do.

Davidson tweets her rebuttal (with a “racism” barb) in spat over homelessness and crime but has yet to issue a ministerial press statement

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson’s accomplishments as Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness) became an issue that aroused our interest during the past week, although mainstream news media seemed more fascinated by Davidson’s playing of the race card when National’s Nicola Willis linked crime with homelessness.

At Question Time in Parliament, Willis asked Davidson:  

Can she confirm that in the five months since becoming a Minister, she has not taken a single paper to Cabinet committee or Cabinet and has not issued a single press release?

Speaker Trevor Mallard let her off the hook by ruling this did not relate to the primary question.

Davidson was given a chance to answer the question outside the House, when reporters asked her about her achievements as minister.  But as Stuff reported –

 … when questioned about what she had achieved as minister she abruptly left the press stand-up mid-question.

And:

She said she had been engaging with the community since being in the job, and had continued to oversee the rollout of a homelessness housing plan. “I have continued to progress the actions for preventing homelessness,” she said.

But instead of answering a further question, her press secretary said: “Thanks, guys – that’s enough.” Continue reading “Davidson tweets her rebuttal (with a “racism” barb) in spat over homelessness and crime but has yet to issue a ministerial press statement”

Nats flush Minister of Motels into the open at Question Time but ACT have yet to flush out figures they seek on new houses

The headline on a press statement from ACT – Megan Woods In Hiding On Housing – suggested the Minister of Housing had gone to ground somewhere. It quickly became apparent she hadn’t .

The press statement was posted on Scoop at 1:38 pm.  Before long, Woods was in the House answering questions about her housing portfolio, albeit from National, not ACT, and about the numbers of people being housed in motels rather than about the numbers of new houses forecast to be built this year.

The replies provided material for a press statement from the Nats later in the day, to highlight figures showing more than $1 million of taxpayer money is being spent each day on motels for emergency housing. 

Maybe there’s a case for Woods becoming Minister of Motels.   

According to the Nats’ press statement the Government spent $82.5 million, or $917,000 a day, in the past quarter on emergency housing grants for people to live in motels and similar accommodation. This is on top of the $155,000 a day the Government is spending on motels for transitional housing purposes.

This is a more than ten-fold increase on what was being spent on emergency housing when Labour came into office, National’s Housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says. Continue reading “Nats flush Minister of Motels into the open at Question Time but ACT have yet to flush out figures they seek on new houses”

Figures flow when Woods answers questions about housing and govt targets – and look, they show a hefty rise in the waiting list

Our Beehive Bulletin … 

While Housing Minister Megan Woods was being grilled at Question Time in Parliament about the government’s performance in her portfolio domain, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito Williams Sio, was announcing new  initiatives to provide housing. 

Attorney-General David Parker, meanwhile, was announcing the appointments of three new District Court Judges, all of them in the Auckland region.   

The appointees are

Kirsten Lummis, lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Auckland. 

Nick Webby, lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Manukau. 

Ophir Cassidy, a lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge to the Waitakere District Court with a general jurisdiction warrant to sit as Youth Court Judge and to lead the Rangatahi Courts at both Hoani Waititi and Orakei Marae.                                                  

 The housing announcement for Pacific people from Sio includes: Continue reading “Figures flow when Woods answers questions about housing and govt targets – and look, they show a hefty rise in the waiting list”