The Dim-Post

November 3, 2011

The Gambler

Filed under: Politics,finance — danylmc @ 5:23 am

John Key took a big risk during last nights Press leader’s debate. (Which was excellent, by the way, you can view it here.) Key and Goff were more-or-less evenly matched for most of the evening, with Goff arguably coming out ahead. Then the Prime Minister took time to walk the audience through the balance sheet of Labour’s fiscal policies, arguing that there was a fourteen billion dollar shortfall.

This could easily go badly – the audience gets bored with the accounting talk, the chances of making a mistake while performing calculations on the stage are high, and it meant the PM was talking about the opposition instead of promoting himself and his party. He was offering Goff a platform to showcase Labour’s fiscal policies.

But Goff couldn’t respond. He couldn’t account for the $14 billion shortfall. Instead he prevaricated. He talked about asset sales. He talked about tax evasion. Key continued to press him, and Goff insisted we’d get a spreadsheet ‘soon’, which explained everything. Then he spent the final quarter of the debate insisting that he’d already explained where the money was coming from, while Key and the audience simply laughed at him.

It was a humiliating defeat. And totally unnecessary. Three-and-a-half weeks from the election and Labour’s leader can’t produce a credible budget.

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103 Comments »

  1. oh dear.

    Comment by dfmamea — November 3, 2011 @ 6:14 am

  2. Exactly the reason the Labour election campaign has been based the attempted vilification of Key; Labour don’t have anything else.

    Comment by fil — November 3, 2011 @ 6:20 am

  3. Exactly the reason the Labour election campaign has been based the attempted vilification of Key

    But that’s not what their election campaign is about at all!

    Comment by danylmc — November 3, 2011 @ 6:35 am

  4. Yes it is Danyl and you’ve stated it yourself I believe i.e. key is Nationals main asset and Labour has been trying to attack that asset.

    Comment by fil — November 3, 2011 @ 6:40 am

  5. Danyl, as a matter of interest, can you recall the last opposition party that had a fully costed platform? Which is a passive aggressive way of me saying I don’t think anyone ever really does it.

    Comment by Eddie C — November 3, 2011 @ 6:40 am

  6. Yes it is Danyl and you’ve stated it yourself I believe i.e. key is Nationals main asset and Labour has been trying to attack that asset.

    In the past, yeah, but their campaign is about their policies.

    Comment by danylmc — November 3, 2011 @ 6:45 am

  7. can you recall the last opposition party that had a fully costed platform? Which is a passive aggressive way of me saying I don’t think anyone ever really does it.

    You can’t run on a fiscal credibility platform with a $14 billion dollar hole in your books.

    Comment by danylmc — November 3, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  8. But Eddie, if you are going to pretend you’re campaigning on Policy specifically Fiscal and Economic Policy (to give to some semblance of balance to the underlying strategy of attacking Key to try and kill Nationals dominance in the party vote) it would behold you to make the numbers add up.

    Comment by fil — November 3, 2011 @ 6:51 am

  9. Fair enough… But isn’t National doing exactly the same thing? Their fiscal policy is bollocks, too. And the media seems far more interested in Labour’s issues for some reason.

    Comment by Eddie C — November 3, 2011 @ 7:02 am

  10. And the media seems far more interested in Labour’s issues for some reason.

    Some reason? The reason is that Key just made mincemeat out of Goff over the issue!

    Comment by danylmc — November 3, 2011 @ 7:04 am

  11. I meant in general. National’s been financially illiterate for the last 3 years and no one’s called them up on it. But meh, I’m following this from Canada, so I suspect I’m missing some stuff I’d be up on if I was in the country. I defer to the sneerers on the ground!

    Comment by Eddie C — November 3, 2011 @ 7:06 am

  12. I am also astonished at the chutzpah of Key in saying the election is about economic credibility. Oh really??? With record unemployment, record foodbank use, growing income gap, massive emigration to Australia, slowest economic growth of any government in our history, recod inflation, a credit downgrade – is that REALLY where Key wants to take to debate??

    But the format was good, and it made TVNZ’s light entertainment effort look even sicker.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  13. …is that REALLY where Key wants to take to debate??

    Apparently so. There must be hardly a govt in history less justified in standing on its economic policy record, and yet they’re not only doing it, they’re getting away with it – which says more about the quality of the Opposition than it does about the govt.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 3, 2011 @ 7:30 am

  14. Anyone have a link to Key’s calculation? Actually watching leaders’ debates makes me despair too much for the future of humanity.

    Comment by bradluen — November 3, 2011 @ 8:00 am

  15. “…which says more about the quality of the Opposition than it does about the govt…”

    It may also relate to my last comment about TVNZ seeing politics as a form of light entertainment. To paraphrase Brian Edward’s take on the leaders “debate” on TVNZ –

    “…Television New Zealand has never treated politics as anything more than an entertainment. Its remit to sell audiences to advertisers, its suspicion that viewers are fundamentally uninterested in politics, its conviction that the attention span of the average television consumer is seven minutes tops and its paranoia about doing anything that might bore that viewer into switching channels, all contribute to the entertainment ethos that drives news and current affairs…”

    I suspect even TV3 would be less irresponsible than TVNZ.

    People spend a lot of time criticising “brain dead” voters (see the “Plan B” thread on this site), but democracy requires not just the citizens but also the media and the political leadership to take it seriously. When the political and media elite are as incestuously corrupt, cynical and decadent as ours, how can the voters be expected to make informed decisions on economic management? There is no point in castigating voters for being superficial when those they entrust a certain democratic duty of care to don’t care.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  16. Yeah there must be a way National can triple private debt like happened under the Clark years to really get the economy moving.

    Comment by Simon — November 3, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  17. You can’t run on a fiscal credibility platform with a $14 billion dollar hole in your books.

    Comment by danylmc

    And the real problem is that you believe Key. They’re in charge of the damn economy and can’t balance their books, but you’re perfectly willing to believe his opinion of Labour’s fiscal policy?

    Comment by Dizzy — November 3, 2011 @ 8:14 am

  18. And the real problem is that you believe Key.

    Key gave Goff EVERY opportunity to defend himself. That’s why it was such a huge risk. So no, I don’t believe Key – I believe Goff’s inability to respond to Key.

    Look. Every party fudges their campaign costings. But every major party leader should be able to effortlessly elide over the gaps and sell their party as credible on this issue.

    Comment by danylmc — November 3, 2011 @ 8:17 am

  19. Believing Key has nothing to do with anything – the point is that if you should never leave yourself unable to defend a $14 billion hole. If Key’s wrong, and he well could be, Goff should be able to explain why, perhaps not down to the last dollar, but within a billion or two would be a start.

    Comment by Nathaniel — November 3, 2011 @ 8:18 am

  20. So Key has memorised a run down of an opposition policy, and he then stands there and breaks it down in public – because he’s memorised the information, not necessarily because it’s true – and the criticism of Goff is basically founded on the fact that he can’t immediately respond to the figures that Key’s raised. Because Key’s memorised them and because Goff wasn’t expecting someone to get into accounting nuts and bolts in a debate.

    Not that there necessarily IS a $14bn hole – because again, that says that what Key’s saying is true. If what Key is saying is true, then it follows that Key and National are at once so perspicacious that they can effectively point out the flaws in an opposition plan they haven’t seen costings for, but so incompetent they can’t actually run an economy when they have the entire machinery of government at work for them.

    Comment by Dizzy — November 3, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  21. “When the political and media elite are as incestuously corrupt, cynical and decadent as ours”

    Don’t hold back Tom, tell us what you really think

    Comment by Raymond A Francis — November 3, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  22. Yep, Danyl’s right. It doesn’t matter that key’s numbers suck. the only thing that matters is that when put on the spot Goff could only say that his spreadsheet would support him at some point in the future.

    He needed a plausible reponse, slightly less fudgy than Key’s criticism. Then he could of compared that with national’s plan for the deficit which is to pay it off with the tax generated by treasury’s ghost jobs.

    Without the plausable response though, he couldn’t pivot without looking like an idiot. Which is a shame coz apart from that he got some good hits in last night.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 3, 2011 @ 8:31 am

  23. Dizzy, it’s not like national haven’t been telegrahing that punch for weeks mate. It’s all they’ve got. jesus.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 3, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  24. In fairness I remember the 2005 election when National released their numbers a few weeks before the election on half an a4 page. Doesn’t excuse Labours ineptness, but they aren’t the first.

    Comment by max — November 3, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  25. I don’t actually think that Goff’s inability to respond off the bat was a huge problem – the only people who are going to believe that there’s a $14bn hole in Labour’s plan are the people who thought that the economy floundered under Labour, or who, like Simon, believe that the increase in private debt was a New Zealand issue and not a world issue (qv: sub-prime crisis).

    A bigger issue for me is that the country’s plainly fucked, National are mismanaging the economy and the public sector, repeating the same old fucked up Tory mistakes, and Labour’s guard dog has been told to go for the fingers and not the balls. There’s so much more fruitful targets for Labour’s campaign posters, like the additional 70,000 people on a benefit after all those crackdowns, like the litany of lies that come out of the mouth of Key – which for me makes his $14bn hole even more unlikely, because he’s already lied to Parliament about the credit downgrade, so what makes anyone think he won’t be lying about finding holes in the opposition’s plans?

    For me, if they’d have stuck to the promises and reality theme, then Key’s claims about a $14bn hole wouldn’t carry any weight because there’d be a clear impression that Key is a) a liar and b) doesn’t know what he’s doing anyway.

    Comment by Dizzy — November 3, 2011 @ 8:51 am

  26. Part of the strength of Key’s argument lies in the fact that Treasury have (who are at least a bit impartial) have run their rulers over much of the Nat plans which are already in the budgets and therefotre the PREFU. The outcome was support for the contention that the books would return to surplus around 2013/14. In addition, the fact that Standard & Poors (or was it Moody’s) did not match thye Fitch downgrade to the country’s credit rating is a huge vote in favour of the path of the current Government.

    Phil has no such backing and is therefore extremely vulnerable especially as he represents a party that has developed a deserved reputation for spending up large particularly at election time. The legacy of Cullen in particular also lingers on with a sour taste when you recall the snarky – “the cupboard is bare, we have spent it all” comment before the last election. Meamwhile Phil is trying to rewrite history by claiming that Labour left everything rosy and hunkey dorey and that recessions, GFC, etc are all the Nats fault.

    Try as you might, there is no way out for Phil. If he comes up with a credible spreadsheet on Friday it will be a) too late, the damage is done and b) an indictment that the costing was not done at the time the policies were designed and therefore the policies are just a few random ideas thrown together rather than a comprehensive collection of policies put together to create an attractive future. If it is not credible, he is a done dinner anyway.

    Comment by DavidW — November 3, 2011 @ 8:58 am

  27. What max said @24 – and that was a campaign based broadly on National being SO much better for the NZ economy than Labour (well, that, and ‘change’/taxcuts).

    My lingering feeling post-debate was not that Goff couldn’t produce a $-based defence to the ‘show the money’ show, it was that Key came across as a douche-bag, and that he’s not the sort of person I’d like to represent me in any forum – but the audience whooped and hollered all the way through. Cringe!

    Comment by Pete — November 3, 2011 @ 9:00 am

  28. Rewrite history? Record low unemployment, government surpluses and an election-losing reluctance to lower taxes to unsustainable levels, why would you want to re-write that you bozo?

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  29. He means rewrite the right-wing folk history of the NZ economy being run into the ground by Labour and rescued at the last minute by their 2008 election defeat.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 3, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  30. I didn’t watch the debate, but did he try contrast medium term deficits with the long term projections around raising or not raising the retirement age? I remember treasury putting something out not so long ago showing we were heading toward a government debt of over 200% of GDP.

    I thought this would be a good strategy, but then, I am not a politician.

    Comment by swan — November 3, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  31. “My lingering feeling post-debate was not that Goff couldn’t produce a $-based defence to the ‘show the money’ show, it was that Key came across as a douche-bag, and that he’s not the sort of person I’d like to represent me in any forum – but the audience whooped and hollered all the way through. Cring”

    It was Christchurch…. I know its getting all the headlines, but how many people outside of political nerds actually watched it. I watched a minute but gave up when my broadband slowed up

    Comment by max — November 3, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  32. When the political and media elite are as incestuously corrupt, cynical and decadent as ours

    Oh, how I long for the political and media elite of New Zealand to be more like their morally upstanding glorious peers in Turkmenistan.

    I know, Sanc, that you like tapping into the hyperbole… but maybe you could turn it down to something lower than 11?

    Comment by Phil — November 3, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  33. This series has already showed in Australia. The final challange was building a house of cards.

    Comment by NeilM — November 3, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  34. Psycho, have you already forgotten that the economy had been shrinkijg for 3 straight quarters BEFORE the 2008 election? That put NZ officially into RECESSION about 12-18 months before the rest of the world. And that at a time of record export receipts, record economic actiovity and low unemployment. I would have thought as someone who made their living out of the recored thoughts of others you of all people would have seen the “writing on the wall”. But then as they say, “there’s none so blind as they ….. ” I’m sure as an educated person you can finish it yourself.

    Sanctuary – If all you can do is resort to personal abuse, then you are already in the wilderness child.

    Comment by DavidW — November 3, 2011 @ 9:24 am

  35. The impression I got was that Goff is bad at math and Key is bad at not lying.

    Labour should have seen this coming, and Goff should have had a proper response prepared, but that doesn’t excuse the media and blogosphere mindlessly taking up Key’s narrative. You see the same thing with creationists and climate change deniers — they can make up lies much faster than we can produce rebuttals.

    Key bragged that he was good with numbers. But anyone in the audience with a bit of numeracy could tell he was using numbers to lie. It would be nice if Goff could rebut those lies with a good on-the-spot soundbite, and I’m as annoyed as anyone that he didn’t have one ready. But why is no one more upset that Key was lying throughout the debate?

    If we’re harder on Goff for not having an answer to Key’s lies than we are on Key for actually lying, we create an environment that rewards lying.

    Comment by pete — November 3, 2011 @ 9:32 am

  36. “And the real problem is that you believe Key.”

    Yeah, it’s lnot like you can trust Key. Look at his lies re GST, TranzRail shares and Standard and Poors (among others). Why anyone would believe Key is unclear.

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  37. > Key is bad at not lying.

    Really?

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  38. Sanctuary, you might also want to cogitate on the meaning of Treasury’s comments regarding the real state of the books when the incoming Government opened them on assuming office in 2008. Do the words ” …. a decade of deficits …. ” ring any bells?

    Comment by DavidW — November 3, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  39. It is actually not unusaul for oppositions to not have budgeted costings(if this is actually the case, I’m not sure). Governments have Treasury’s large resources when it comes to these things so the playing field is not really that even. What I can’t handle is Key getting away with looking like a good financial manager of the economy. That’s the depressing thing.

    Comment by K2 — November 3, 2011 @ 9:37 am

  40. Maybe if Goff had’t spent all those hours getting advice from Mallard on how to get some balls he could have spent some time learing about his own policies.

    Comment by NeilM — November 3, 2011 @ 9:41 am

  41. > Really?

    Actually.

    Comment by pete — November 3, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  42. I am also astonished at the chutzpah of Key in saying the election is about economic credibility. Oh really??? With record unemployment…

    Record unemployment? How old are you? Never heard of the early 90s (or late 90s for that matter)?
    Friends don’t let friends comment drunk.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — November 3, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  43. Psycho, have you already forgotten that the economy had been shrinkijg for 3 straight quarters BEFORE the 2008 election? That put NZ officially into RECESSION about 12-18 months before the rest of the world. And that at a time of record export receipts, record economic actiovity and low unemployment.

    Comment by DavidW

    Three quarters? Really? So 3 months times 3 is 18? Winning maths, there.

    Anyway, not really. Don’t let GDP fool you, though, because Key’s arse was saved by primary industries, and then when primary industries flagged, it was saved by manufacturing. Generally, the economy in the real world where government policy tends to have more of an effect – jobless rates, deficit, borrowing – is very poor.

    Comment by Dizzy — November 3, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  44. @Ross – In recent comments you start out from the position Key is lying and then search for proof for this, or finding none bring in unrelated issues. We get that you find Key untrustworthy, but it doesn’t really add anything to the debate on particular issues. The bottom line here is that Goff should have had a response, so even if Key was lying about the numbers, he wouldn’t have been able to gain the traction he did in the debate. The Nat’s have had a spreadsheet up for over a week and it has been unanswered leaving Goff exposed to similar accusations of dishonesty.

    Cheers, Chris W.

    Comment by Chris White — November 3, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  45. It’s been interesting to observe both John Key and Paula Bennet on TV lately. They have the figures and stats well embedded in their heads but no drive to improve the lot of all New Zealanders, least ones who really need and deserve to be cut a break.

    With Labour, there will be no $14B shortfall because they will not be the ones selling the assets. They will implement fairer levies systems, a Capital Gains Tax which is fair for everyone, perhaps an Inheritance Tax, and these things will bring in the revenue needed to create more jobs, put money into healthcare and education, etc. They will reorganise the welfare system but not in a way that punishes people unfairly.

    National do not create jobs, they have mates who create jobs and this is very much in correlation to the expected profits.
    Labour creates jobs when they are needed. In the past these work schemes haven’t always been well organised but that was under Clark and we need to give Goff a chance.

    Comment by Betty — November 3, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  46. Dizzy re #43 reading comprehension fail – NZ entered recession 3 quarters before the election in November 2008. Also in Nov 2008 the GFC really blew up for the rest of the world noting that it had been on slow boil for some time before then. Other parts of the world post Nov 2008 then entered into recession post GFC. That therefore makes it possible for NZ to enter recession 3 quarters before the election and 18 months before the rest of the world.

    K2 re #39 Treasury resources are available for all political parties to cost there policies see http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/guidance/planning/costingpolicies/index.htm so no reason for any political party to not have their numbers available.

    Graeme re #42 one of the best comments of the thread

    Comment by WH — November 3, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  47. > Treasury resources are available for all political parties to cost there policies … so no reason for any political party to not have their numbers available.

    Numbers are also available from http://www.random.org. I hear that their numbers are much more reliable than those provided by Treasury.

    Comment by pete — November 3, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  48. I concur that it’s a big risk by Key. It might have scored points in this debate, but those could be wiped away as soon as the data is made available, and indeed it draws a lot more attention to Labour’s policy than National needs. Goff was probably quite wise not to flip numbers around during a debate – that kind of thing does actually require a lot more care and attention to detail, and one careless word here or there can flip or invert or invalid the entire case. Better to actually let the numbers and all the finance-heads who will pick it apart immediately, do all the work there. It could turn out that this whole “14 billion hole” becomes another KeyHole, another lie with ample footage to back it up, and one that will now be fresh in the memory of the electorate.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 3, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  49. @WH

    Except, of course, that the World Bank figures provided there don’t actually bear out any idea that NZ went into recession a whole 18 months ahead of the rest of the world, because the majority of the world was in recession in Q3 2008. Note that a ‘recession’ is TWO consecutive periods of negative growth – and so, for instance, the UK officially went into recession in Q3 2008, whereas NZ officially went into recession in Q2 2008. The United States, however, only officially went into recession in Q4 2008, because they had a period of positive growth in Q2 2008. Of course, some countries, like Australia, never went into recession, so perhaps you’d like to use them as a benchmark for NZ’s recession. In that case, Labour took NZ into recession an infinity before Australia! My word. An infinity. That’s a very big number, isn’t it? Labour must have been terrible!

    Also, France Q3 2008, Germany Q3 2008, Canada Q2 2008 (just), Russia Q4 2008.

    In other words, unless you’re going to use extreme outliers ask examples of countries that went into recession – and there aren’t any – the idea that NZ went into recession between 9 and 18 months earlier than the rest of the world is actually horseshit. At most it was two quarters and, on average, it was a single quarter before. Why? Well, one reason is that NZ as an exporter with a large current account deficit is one of the first countries to be hit in the initial phases before economies start contracting in other countries. It certainly doesn’t point to a mismanagement of the economy, or the idea that Cullen’s surpluses were nine years of pure luck – especially not given the performance of Bill “Second Chance” English.

    If you’d like more evidence that DavidW doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and is parroting a National Party pile of stinky fudge, then please look at his interesting use of the “decade of deficits” – the “decade of deficits” phrase uttered not by Treasury, but by John Key, in the election campaign in 2008.

    Comment by Dizzy — November 3, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  50. “…I concur that it’s a big risk by Key…”

    And in another stellar win for National’s economic stewardship, unemployment is up – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10763603 and this is with record primary production prices and a booming Australia absorbing 100,000 New Zealanders.

    John Key must tahnk God for the safety valve of Australiathats masks the abject economic failure of his government.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  51. @Ben #48
    Unfortunately for Phil, every policy with fiscal ramifications has already been pulled to bits and found wanting. The timing of CGT, the costs of removal of GST on fruit & veg, the application of a “super-tax on rich pricks”, resumption of contributions into the Cullen Fund, etc have all been looked at and the additional revenues do not match the additional expenditures by a long margin.

    It is relatively simple maths – you only have to add and subtract and don’t even need to multiply or divide to show that Labour are blowing smoke in a vain attempt to find appeal amonngst a diminishing pool of gullible voters.

    Treating the balance of the once-were-labour-voters brigade as still ignorant is possibly labour’s biggest and costliest (in terms of voter support)error in the last 50 years.

    Comment by DavidW — November 3, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  52. @Dizzy, desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose. Is ten years a decade? The words might be different, the meaning is constant.

    Comment by DavidW — November 3, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  53. As “humiliating defeats” go, this one sounds pretty good …

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Debate-MC-gives-it-to-Goff/tabid/419/articleID/231603/Default.aspx

    Debate MC in Christchurch, bloggers online, take your pick.

    Comment by sammy — November 3, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  54. I’d believe you, DavidW, but you’re an accomplished idiot that gets his reality from Kiwiblog. Gullible? You are. Entirely.

    You’re talking about Labour’s plan compared to a government that fired a bunch of people, did fuck all about unemployment, increased GST so people stopped spending and then acted shocked when its tax receipts were down. And you’re getting your maths on a Labour policy from a bunch of people who’ve increased the number of people on a benefit by 70,000 over three years and have no effective plan to get it down. And who spent about a quarter of their party political broadcast slagging off Labour.

    Tell me, when you subtract the average person’s wages from their total income, can they afford to pay their rent, buy food AND heat their home?

    Comment by Dizzy — November 3, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  55. I ask myself this simple question: Would Labour (or anyone else for that matter) have had different outcomes than National? Would things have been any better? I sincerely doubt it.

    Are things better with National than with Labour? some yes, some no. I for one am appalled at Labour’s attacks on freedom of speech in the EFA and in their proposed reforms of the “media”. That gets very little airplay. National _has_ reduced back office numbers and there are more frontline people. The number of operations performed has increased. At the same time … so you get pluses and minuses on both sides. Right now, as a disaffected former Labour voter, I don’t trust the bastards as far as I could throw them. Of course, I trust National only marginally less.

    So I won’t be voting for either of them. How will I vote? Well I have some leanings, but I am not going to report them on a blog, centre left or centre right. :D

    Comment by David in Chch — November 3, 2011 @ 11:27 am

  56. I’m still wondering what Danyl means by “excellent” specifically (genuinely…I only caught some of it, and that part wasn’t excellent at all to me, although at least is didn’t have the commentators).

    The one really terrible bit I caught was when John Key was going on about how he was good at numbers, and Phil Goff proceeded to stumble on a number “14…er 15.” The audience laughed pretty spitefully. Not surprised that Key was more supported too given that The Press readers **tend** to be more conservative/right wing and it was held at Christ’s. Or maybe Labour supporters are just quieter.

    What irritated me was the Key recycled a lot of the arguments used on the TVNZ debate but Goff didn’t seem to have very many fresh rebuttals.

    Comment by Zo — November 3, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  57. In the marketplace of ideas National is onto a winner. Less than four weeks to go until National gets its mandate to sell state assets. Looks like National is going to actually improve its numbers on 2008 and Labour is going to do worse.

    National doesn’t even have to include the cost of Phil Goff as an election expense in its electoral expense return. Sweet.

    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — November 3, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  58. Goff’s cunning plan is that he’ll produce the spreadsheet the day before the election, which will show that Key has been lying all along, and of course will give no time for Key to contradict the costings. Brilliant. :)

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  59. Here is a sobering counter-factual question. The number of New Zealanders living in Australia has doubled since 1984. What sort of country would we be right now if our unemployment was not 155,000 but 400,000? When you consider that, the extent of the neo-liberal failure that John Key has been associated with all his life is obvious.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  60. Record unemployment? How old are you?….
    Friends don’t let friends comment drunk

    How sober and lawerly. And how very fair and reasonable. How dare one criticise John when Atilla was so much worse.

    Comment by ak — November 3, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  61. > Looks like National is going to actually improve its numbers on 2008

    That’s a relief then, it doesn’t matter if they make a mess of the economy, at least we can sleep easier knowing that National has improved its numbers.

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  62. For Dizzy (see below) – ps the world bank data you refer to is more interesting if you click on the box called “world” and then consider that presenting data as years rather than quarters might give you an inaccurate representation of time.

    Disagreement in politics does not a pinhead make.

    When it comes to debating politics, men then often create the following faulty syllogism:
    • I’m a very intelligent person and I believe X.
    • This other person believes Y.
    • Therefore this other person is a complete moron.
    This is what essentially lies at the heart of nasty political discourse. And it’s surely a tempting conclusion to make. But take a step back. Does your “opponent” show other signs of being a feeble-minded moron? Did they graduate from college? Do they have a good job? Do they seem able to function as a normal adult? You know, dress themself, eat, and refrain from drooling? Probably so. They probably are not an imbecile they just feel differently than you do. They will have been raised in a home by parents with certain beliefs and probably had life experiences that are divergent from yours. There faith or lack thereof has shaped them in ways that yours hasn’t. Now, once you have established that they are not a pinhead, you can begin to have a polite debate.

    Try your darndest to see the other side

    When you passionately believe in something, it can seem nearly impossible to even conceive how another person doesn’t see things the same way you do. But since we’ve established that having a divergent political belief does not a pinhead make, you should be duly curious about why someone feels the way they do.
    Dispense with the the how and why questions. Questions like, “How could you possibly believe that?” and “Why can’t you see how wrong you are?” won’t get you anywhere. Instead, pose “what” questions. “What makes you feel that way?” “What has led you to come to that conclusion?” Be earnestly and sincerely interested in what the person has to say. Do not ask these questions as way to dig up material to pounce on and attack. Take the time to really understand their sides of the issues.

    Consume media that presents news from both sides.

    If all you consume is media from one particular source, a source that affirms and flatters your already preconceived beliefs, then you’re never going to be able to see the other side and will end up just another schmo contributing to the untimely death of respectful political debate.
    Let’s face it: we all love to see our guy sticking it to the other guy. We love to see the commentators rip into the hypocrisy and inadequacies of the other party. It makes us feel good about ourselves and flatters our world view. But it’s dangerously narrow-minded. Debate isn’t just reading the tracts and speeches of people with whom they agree. It also involves consuming what their opponents had to say as well. If you make an effort to read and listento differing information that will leave you better informed and ready to make fair assessments. I

    Concede a point where appropriate

    Unless someone really is an obtuse Neanderthal, they will probably say a few things that you actually agree with. A badger of a person will let these things pass by without a word, believing that to concede any point is to show weakness. An intelligent and secure man is able to say, “Yeah, that’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that.” Even if you don’t agree with something, at least pepper your discourse with the occasional “I understand why you feel that way.” And “I can see that.”

    Find common ground

    Even if you and other commentators are on opposite ends of the spectrum there will always be a couple of things you can agree on (e.g., rugby, the weather, children etc). Even if its banal generalities like “long term debt is a problem,” you can agree on that and then civilly present your varying perspectives on how it should be fixed.

    Don’t use inflammatory language

    The person who is insecure with the simple, bare validity of there argument will be tempted to resort to inflammatory language and insults. Such language only produces rancor and will quickly steer the debate into a pointless shouting match. Present you points in a calm, well-reasoned manner.

    Stick to the facts

    Only bring to the table those facts which have been thoroughly vetted as true. Information culled from emails forwarded to you by Aunt Gertie, articles from facebook, and stories from a pirated radio broadcast you listened to at 4 in the morning do not count. How you and other people interpret the facts will of course vary, but you might find that at the least you will be debating accurate information as opposed to rumors and slander that no one can really prove or argue against.

    Comment by WH — November 3, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  63. @DavidW, I think you might want to explain how upping taxes is going to create more of a debt hole. For sure, selling assets off might fill that hole in the short term, but that is lying with a balance sheet and anyone can see it. Those assets are then gone and can’t make further money for us. Futhermore, they are crucial infrastructure assets we are losing control of, so they could end up as liabilities in the long run, if the experiences of Telecom are anything to go on. Also, cutting out expenditure doesn’t come without cost either. It will increase unemployment, which will increase benefits and drive the tax take down.

    I’m going to wait for the costings Goff is promising before I get all woody about how National is all about fiscal responsibility. So far, on their watch, the economy has tanked worse than it ever has in my whole life. That’s the biggest proof of all. National is full of promises, and all of them come from doing jack shit except driving unemployment up, wages down, and strategic tax moves that have been widened the gap between rich and poor, and doing nothing at all about the impending superannuation economic disaster. Their only idea is to sell off our assets. It’s been a disastrous idea every time it’s been done before, what reason is there to think this will be an exception?

    This recession/depression could last a long time. We really need longer term plans.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 3, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  64. >I ask myself this simple question: Would Labour (or anyone else for that matter) have had different outcomes than National? Would things have been any better? I sincerely doubt it.

    Labour would have provided stimulus spending. In the short term that would have meant bigger deficits during the recession, but in the medium term more economic growth to pay back that debt.

    Comment by pete — November 3, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  65. > What sort of country would we be right now if our unemployment was not 155,000 but 400,000?

    Hmmm that’s a big assumption you’ve just made. Assuming that many of those that have departed are skilled workers who are currently working, they could of course be working here, and their contribution could be such that we would have less than 155,000 unemployed (if indeed there are that many unemployed).

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  66. @David in ChCh.
    >Would Labour (or anyone else for that matter) have had different outcomes than National? Would things have been any better? I sincerely doubt it.

    I very much doubt they’d have given a tax cut to the rich, costing billions, knowing that we were falling into recession.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 3, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  67. “…This recession/depression could last a long time. We really need longer term plans…”

    The French and Germans have just ordered Greece to cancel it’s referendum on the austerity they want to impose on that country – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8865976/Europe-tells-Greece-no-more-money-unless-you-cancel-referendum.html.

    Would the British accept such a threat from France and Germany? Would we? But this what happens when you sell your country to foreign capital.

    Democracy, it seems, is a luxury the powerful Western nations can only afford if it doesn’t affect capitalist edifice. We are no longer talking about recession/depression and long term plans. We are entering the Dark Valley, and this is becoming a crisis of capitalism vs. democracy.

    Our election may be cuccooned in an opaque blanket of media induced complacency and ignorance. But the stakes are much higher than the popularity contest that National wants to make it.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  68. “I very much doubt they’d have given a tax cut to the rich, costing billions, knowing that we were falling into recession.”

    And I very much doubt Labour would’ve increased GST, and I am not sure that Labour would’ve made cuts to front line health services.

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  69. Who made cuts to frontline health services? National made cuts to the back office, not the front line. Now one can argue that that can put more work onto the front line workers but that is a different argument. But the number of operations, for example, has increased. The data released show this. So where do you see cuts to frontline health services?

    Would Labour have made cuts that needed to be made to reduce increased deficits? I doubt it, but then I did not vote Labour last time, not because of their economic policies, but because of the EFA and their support for the obviously lying Winston Peters, and their arrogance. If you did not agree with every last little bit of their policy, if you chose to question something like the EFA, if you chose to question their support for WP, then you were obviously brainwashed or ignorant or both. I was metaphorically pushed away.

    Comment by David in Chch — November 3, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  70. @Ben, at least you attempt a rational debate and I am happy to engage.

    My point was that overall the gains from additional (government) revenue generating policies at first blush were vastly overwhelmed by the costs imposed by the extra spends. So it is a big-picture view that I am trying to expound. The minuses significantly exceed the plusses – nothing about the wisdom of each policy, just that it does not add up at a time when our creditworthiness is fragile and adding debt cannot be a viable option.

    Many have long memories and have joined the dots of a series of spend-ups over past lead-ups to elections. The ramifications of spending policies that have got out of control and are now huge fiscal drags on the economy are there for all to see. The initial beneficiaries of interest free student loans have had their benefit and largely joined the workforce where they see that there is no free lunch and are frightened by the growth of spend on that policy. Socially sympathetic people who were once Labour voters and supported the principles of the DPB as support for solo mothers now see that it has turned into a rapacious monster that has become a lifestyle with a positive incentive to procreate children as a meal ticket. The real costs of buying back the Railways are becoming apparent. The stat on public service growth vs the lack of progress in improving outcomes has demonstrated a lack of real leadership and effective management.

    While none of these things in itself is a game-changer, it is an accumulation and possibly a slow realisation that the ambitions of the Labour Party and the ambitions of a largish proportion of the voting population have diverged to the point at which they no longer can be comfortably reconciled. A number of right wing commentators have been banging on for the last 3 years that Labour needs to look to itself and its place in the scheme of things if it is to become an effective opposition and stand any chance of recovery to being an alternative party-in-power. We need an effective Opposition and get a bit scared when that looks like becoming the Greens whose stated policies on a number of issues apparently disregard the reality experienced by those countries that have tried them.

    Instead it has been business as usual and the personal attack style so reminiscent of Helen and Michael has continued. When will it sink in that the public are turned off from that?

    Must back to work. cheers

    Comment by DavidW — November 3, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  71. So Labour’s support rests on a series of counter factuals.

    I’m not sure that there economic managment would have been any better than Natioanl’s overall, unless they really do have a majic wand.

    All Cullen deserves credit for a few important things but Labour did preside over one of the most damaging distortions in the NZ economy – the residential housing bubble.

    National has taken steps to make that sort of investment less attractive.

    And this time round it’s Labour without Cullen.

    Comment by NeilM — November 3, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  72. “…National made cuts to the back office, not the front line…”

    Right, because things like Cave Creek (when Bill English was deputy finance minister and DOC was run completely into the ground) and the slow response to the Rena grounding and the Pike River explosion are not evidence of government services being run down under National governments, it is just a string of terribly bad luck that happened to occur when National was in power.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

  73. “Who made cuts to frontline health services? National made cuts to the back office, not the front line.”

    You’ve been listening to John Key too much, David. I do recall the PM telling everyone at the first leaders’ debate that there had been no cuts to front line health services. A doctor has since accused the PM of being economical with the truth.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/3490876/Health-cuts-hitting-the-front-line

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/5894154/Prime-Minister-misled-public-over-health-cuts

    Comment by Ross — November 3, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

  74. Interesting, Ross. So the DHB decided to shift its cuts to the contracted service providers outside the direct DHB. sigh. So the cuts did affect the front line. Now … who do we blame for this? The cuts to the DHB that were intended to reduce office staff? Or the DHB that decided to pass along those cuts to the external contract service providers? I am just asking, because I don’t think there is a clear answer. It does indicate, however, that the front line services were affected. You are correct. All I am now asking is … who do we blame for that?

    Because I think a lot of people are forgetting that under Labour, there was a lot more spent on studies and office staff, to the extent that there was less available for physicians and nurses in the hospitals. I remember that quite clearly. Nurses and physicians were leaving in ever greater numbers. I see less of that now. It may still be continuing, but if it is, then it is not being reported as much.

    Comment by David in Chch — November 3, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  75. On the whole National haven’t cut at the front line. But they have made cuts to the civil service. But do people who support a robust civil service want civil servants to be completely immune to economic downturns which do negatively effect workers in the private sector?

    Comment by NeilM — November 3, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  76. Sanctuary @67. “The French and Germans have just ordered Greece to cancel it’s referendum on the austerity” – France and Germany have ordered no such thing.

    They’ve said “You know this money you want to take from us, it comes with conditions”. Greece can democratically decide whatever it wants.

    Why should money from others be free of obligation?

    Comment by Rick Rowling — November 3, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  77. Hmm last time France and Germany started throwing around ultimatums things got a bit messy for six years. Let’s hope Cameron doesn’t start offering peace in our time.

    Comment by insider — November 3, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  78. Sanctuary @72. “the slow response to the Rena grounding and the Pike River explosion are not evidence of government services being run down under National governments”

    Who ran down the Oil Pollution Fund?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/rena-crisis/5833206/12m-clean-up-fund-deliberately-wound-down

    “A decade ago, the Oil Pollution Fund contained about $12 million but now totals only $4m after a decision was made by then transport minister Mark Gosche to draw the account down. The purpose of the fund is to have sufficient cash rapidly available in case of an oil spill and all ships over 24m long or weighing more than 100 tonnes must contribute.”

    If you throw enough oil, some if it will stick – to your own hands.

    Comment by Rick Rowling — November 3, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  79. National made cuts to the back office, not the front line.

    Which is an excellent thing to do if you’ve come up with various efficiencies that make those back office positions redundant, but is basically the opposite of excellent if all you do is sack the back office workers with no plan for how the work they were doing will get done in the future. Guess which of those National adopted?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 3, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  80. “But do people who support a robust civil service want civil servants to be completely immune to economic downturns which do negatively effect workers in the private sector?”

    Speaking as some kind of Keynesian: yes, that’s exactly the economically correct thing to do unless you were foolish enough to join the eurozone.

    Comment by bradluen — November 3, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  81. 79.National made cuts to the back office, not the front line.

    I’m a frontline worker but I depend on the backroom staff; they do lots of stuff that frees me up for my frontline duties. The fewer of them, the more non-frontline tasks take up my time. It’s not exactly efficient to pay me a gazillion dollars an hour to do my own photocopying and filing.

    So this frontline/backroom dichotemy is a false one; ideally you want the two kinds of staff working together to achieve the best outcomes in the most effective and efficient manner. Promising to cut “only” backroom staff does not, in itself, protect frontline service. Indeed, it may damage the ability of frontline staff to do their work.

    Comment by MeToo — November 3, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  82. “Would the British accept such a threat from France and Germany? Would we? But this what happens when you sell your country to foreign capital.”

    It’s what happens when you borrow multiple truckloads of money, want the lenders to lose money on the transaction and later loan you more money at good rates!

    Bill English was not an Associate Minister of Finance when Cave Creek occurred.

    Comment by Tinakori — November 3, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  83. National made cuts to the back office, not the front line.

    One of Labour’s strongest election lines back in ’99 was that they’d restore the public service, so that police and doctors didn’t have to spend all their time filling in forms.

    Comment by danylmc — November 3, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  84. It’s what happens when you borrow multiple truckloads of money, want the lenders to lose money on the transaction and later loan you more money at good rates!

    If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem. J P Getty

    Comment by Gregor W — November 3, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  85. “The whole slow response to rena” theme is a complete beat up by ignorant armchair admirals who would have been happy to see boats and choppers milling around excitedly with no actual idea of what to do and when, and what the priority was. Nothing should/could have been done until a plan was in place, and that takes time because first you have to look and learn. Enthusiastic idiots rushing in with pliers and pipes is a recipe for people getting hurt and oil spilled or worse, trapped and inaccessible, and could have compromised the overall environmental outcome.

    Comment by insider — November 3, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  86. “…“The whole slow response to rena” theme is a complete beat up by ignorant armchair admirals who would have been happy to see boats and choppers milling around excitedly with no actual idea of what to do and when, and what the priority was…”

    I have fifteen years experience at sea, and I’ll tell you exactly why the rena response was so slow – it was because Maritme NZ has all sorts of well thought out plans, but absolutely no means of implementing them.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 3, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  87. “…was because Maritme NZ has all sorts of well thought out plans, but absolutely no means of implementing them….”

    Because Mark Gosche took away their response money!!!!

    Comment by Rick Rowling — November 3, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  88. >just that it does not add up at a time when our creditworthiness is fragile and adding debt cannot be a viable option.

    I hope you realize that compulsory savings have to be counted *against* the biggest kind of debt this country actually has – private debt. Have National costed that into their claims about a debt hole?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 3, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

  89. @85 “The whole slow response to rena” theme is a complete beat up by ignorant armchair admirals”

    Not according to my brother in law who works in the shipping industry and says the response was a farce. Even with the given resources – according to him – it was riddled with error.

    I’d trust his judgement here over yours insider, because of his expertise and also because he does not have a political corner to defend. While he shares the blame around, he blames Joyce and the shipping company more than MNZ. (And no, he doesn’t work with/for MNZ)

    Comment by MeToo — November 3, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  90. That needs updating Gregor @84.

    Something like. If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem. But if you owe the bank $100Billion, that’s the taxpayers problem P. bookie

    The taxpayers here would would be German for the most part. The argument that the greeks are being ungrateful is short sighted in this regard. The deal is mutually beneficial in that there is a lot of shit to be eaten. The Greeks are just negotiating the share, which is fair enough. If they default, and pull out of the euro and devalue the drachma, they will still be eating a lot of shit for a long time. The German taxpayer too, will be eating alot of shit, probably more shit than they would be eating had this deal gone through.

    Once Greece goes, why should anyone think Italy won’t?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 3, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  91. How much money does it take to to organise a response team for when the oil hits the shore?

    Smith is saying that as soon as the ship hit the reef he knew there would be oil hitting the beach, so why on earth was the local population out there unprepared untrained and angry picking it up on that day?

    Because there was no communication from that first day, no warning that this is going to happen, no organising and training of volunteers. That’s why.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 3, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  92. completely off topic, but check this out:

    http://i.imgur.com/Ie05L.jpg

    Yeah, so that happened in the Manawatu gorge. faaaa.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — November 3, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  93. Why do people not understand that the reason we are running deficits now is because the previous Labour government committed to a certain level of future spending. The global recession caused a decrease in tax revenue, hence leaving a deficit

    Now if the government immediately cut spending it would be pillored for a slash and burn approach to govt services. Remember, some govt spending is another persons income, so if you cut it too quickly without letting private sector take up the slack the economy can spiral downwards.

    Therefore the govt is trying to walk a fine line by making only small spending increases and allowing tax revenue increase to grow faster than spending.

    Of course this doesn’t include unforeseen things such as earthquakes.

    Comment by MrV — November 3, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  94. +1 P Bookie

    I think what Papandreou has done is pretty clever.
    As you say, it makes total political sense to negotiate the quantity of shit to be eaten when there is no actual imperative to finish off the entire plateload.

    Plus he totally blindsinded that poison dwarf Sarkozy which is just plain hilarious.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 3, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  95. “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem. J P Getty”

    Only if you don’t need to do any further borrowing

    Comment by Tinakori — November 3, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  96. @ metoo

    “he blames Joyce ”

    If your brother in law is saying that he either has a political barrow to push or hasn’t got a clue. Blaming Joyce is in effect saying he should have taken control of the response. Putting a politician in charge of an emergency response is the last thing you want. If you are going to blame anyone you have to blame MNZ and the ship owners/operators who appoint the salvors because they are the active managers of the event. No-one else is accountable.

    @ Sanc

    MNZ had an inspector abord the Rena at first light after grounding giving reports on its condition. In your experience how quick would you have got on board? They had the incident response team mobilised from around the country on heading to Tauranga before that. they don’t have ESP and they don’t have wings. In your experience how quickly could you have activated and assembled a team of 200 and got an incident centre established and got equipment and people qualified to use it on site?

    OF course we have plans but limited capability. Same goes for practically everything with low probability but high impact. If an airliner crashed and sank in the harbour we would be completely impotent, particularly early on because we don;t have major event ‘fire stations’ with people sitting waitng to slide down a pole, we don’t have recovery vessels and trained divers to hand, we don’t have submersibles. Pretty much nowhere does. Yet airports have hundreds of flights a day travelling over water before or after landing and we have a national airline unlike in shipping.So to say we have plans but no capacity is basically saying nothing.

    Comment by insider — November 3, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  97. Insider, my brother in law’s narrative went like this (a little vague in my recollection because it was a couple of weeks ago now):

    MNZ would have contacted their minister as soon as they heard about the grounding. They would have briefed him on it and that should have included a worst case scenario. If it didn’t, Joyce should have asked for one – or he wasn’t doing his job. MNZ would have taken their cue from Joyce as to how much to throw at the problem – to sit back and let due process unfold – or, given it is just before an election – to treat it with urgency, to assume worst case is possible and act quickly to stop it. As civil servants MNZ would have been acutely aware of the proximity of the election.

    What could they have done? BIL reckons they could have got all the oil off the ship before it went cold and before the weather turned. He outlined how this could have been done given resources, people, equipment, time frames etc.

    I’ve never heard my BIL talk about politics. He talks about fishing and replacing his spouting and how much he made from selling something on Trade Me. When I say he doesn’t have a political corner to defend, I mean I have no idea who he votes for, he seems completely uninterested in politics. And therefore I would say unmotivated by politics when talking about the Rena.

    Comment by MeToo — November 3, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  98. @ me Too

    Apologies if I impugned your BIL – I wasn’t meaning to. According to Joyce MNZ told him straight away (whether they woke him in the night I have no idea but I wouldn’t mind betting one of his officials will have been on the fast notification list). None of us know what was in the briefings so to assume he wasn’t given a worst case seems a bit presumptious, but it wouldn’t have been hard to imagine it for himself. MNZ should never have taken their cue from Joyce as to what to throw at it IMO. Yes civil servants have to be political at times but this would have been the worst time. Given the response, they chucked pretty much all they had anyway. But the responsibilty for a vessel lies with the master/owner until taken away by MNZ. I believe that is a standard approach around the world, and that won’t be done until the authorities lose confidence, and I doubt MNZ could do any more than the salvors have done – they are part timers in comparison to Svitzer.

    Comment by insider — November 3, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  99. @MrV

    >Why do people not understand that the reason we are running deficits now is because the previous Labour government committed to a certain level of future spending. The global recession caused a decrease in tax revenue, hence leaving a deficit

    I don’t understand it because it is false. It focuses entirely on spending as the only thing the government could change in response to the recession. They could have put tax up, and covered the costs completely. They didn’t, for ideological reasons, and now they want to sell assets to cover the shortfall, again for ideological reasons. At least I hope they’re ideological, because I don’t like to think it’s just about crooked rich people trying to get in on an asset sale bonanza in my country. But instead of doing this extremely obvious thing, raising taxes, they did the opposite, dropping taxes. That was pure irresponsibility, given how obvious it was that recession was intensifying.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 3, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  100. But instead of doing this extremely obvious thing, raising taxes, they did the opposite, dropping taxes. That was pure irresponsibility, given how obvious it was that recession was intensifying.

    Yeah, but carefully targeted tax cuts in a weak economy can help keep people in work – like a sales tax cut to ensure people are spending enough to keep businesses open, perhaps offset with a higher top income tax rate.

    What’s that you say? National did the opposite? The unemployment rate went up today? Wow, it’s almost as if the reason for National’s tax changes wasn’t job creation.

    Comment by bradluen — November 3, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

  101. NeilM(75): “But do people who support a robust civil service want civil servants to be completely immune to economic downturns which do negatively effect workers in the private sector?”

    I don’t think the question should be about fairness between individual civil servant workers and private sector workers. Most people will gravitate to wherever the jobs are, and I’ve migrated between public and private sector several times as have many people. To me it makes more sense to ask whether it’s useful for society to retain a robust public service during economic downturn, as long as benefits of paying for it outweigh the downside.

    Comment by MikeM — November 3, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

  102. bradluen @ 80 “Speaking as some kind of Keynesian: yes, that’s exactly the economically correct thing to do”
    So how’s that stimulus spending going for the USA? UK? Japan? And NZ’s deficit: how much does spending have to exceed income before you’ll consider it as stimulus spending?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 7, 2011 @ 2:27 pm


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