The Dim-Post

November 18, 2012

Shearer’s speech

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 2:46 pm

Is here. The opening lines:

Today I want to talk about two paths that lie before us as a country.

Each offers very different directions and different choices.

This cliche always reminds me of the start of Woody Allen’s Speech to the Graduates:

More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

It is a bad speech (‘grow the pie’, ‘get the economy firing on all cylinders’ and a subtle implication that Shearer was somehow responsible for the death of Paul Callaghan). Apparently it was very well delivered. The main policy statements are:

  • Labour will give Reserve Bank tools to manage the exchange rate
  • Labour will invest in research and development
  • Labour will introduce a Capital Gains tax
  • Labour will enroll everyone into KiwiSaver
  • Labour will raise the minimum wage
  • Labour’s government procurement will favor New Zealand companies (new, I think)
  • Something rather unclear to do with supporting teachers

The big new announcement is the housing policy. Labour will build 100,000 low cost homes (over ten years) financed through the sale of $1.5 billion dollars in ‘Home Ownership Bonds’. (Let’s have a sweep on how many times over the next few weeks Shearer and David Parker will insist through gritted teeth, ‘It’s not raising debt, it’s selling Home Ownership Bonds.’)

The other new announcement is the ‘Healthy Homes Guarantee’ so that landlords have to ensure that their properties are insulated and heated.

Well, they’re pretty good policies. Although it occurs to me that developing left-wing policies is pretty easy in 21st century New Zealand. You just look about for the top dozen-or-so catastrophic market failures, pick one, think of the most blindingly obvious solution, and there’s your policy.

Like I said last week, I don’t think a good speech should be enough to justify Shearer staying on as party leader. Giving a well-received speech at a party conference is pretty much the lowest bar you can possibly set for a politician. Can he defend and sell those policies over the next few months? If he can there will be no reason for David Cunliffe’s caucus colleagues to support a leadership change. Senior Labour MPs have been leaking to the media that they’re going to try and deal to Cunliffe next week, which is only going to re-alienate the party.

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34 Comments »

  1. I thought we couldn’t favour NZ companies over Aussie ones because of CER. Is he saying Labour under Shearer will dismantle CER?

    Note the link between CER and “equal basis” tendering is here

    Comment by Anita — November 18, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  2. So to reply to this and the previous post, I was there as a delegate. My sense of the room yesterday, and I talked to a lot of people, is that preparing the ground for a Cunliffe challenge was not on the minds of most delegates, while maximising member control over the caucus was. In fact Andrew Little wouldn’t have had to say “let’s call it what it is…” etc if that weren’t the case. In a genuine proxy war for leadership people would know what side they were on.

    The speech today may not have been well-written but it was very, very well delivered and the contents were red meat for the Labour left. I think an increasing worry for a Cunliffe challenge, no matter when delivered, is a Shearer who can convincingly run the same left lines Cunliffe has been but with the mantle of the incumbent leader. I wouldn’t have imagined myself writing this on Friday, but based on today I think that could happen.

    Comment by Stephen J — November 18, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  3. I like that they will raise the minimum wage and introduce a Capital Gains Tax but unfortunately nothing was mentioned about reducing GST. Also, nothing about raising the top rate of Company Tax from 28% to 30%.

    I do not believe in compulsory KiwiSaver. However, I like that they will invest in research and development, and am especially pleased that they will give the Reserve Bank tools to manage the exchange rate.

    And this thing about supporting teachers is still unclear? Time to be more verbal, Mr Shearer.

    Comment by Dan — November 18, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  4. sooo, just like the Nats took Labour policy and made it their own in ’08, Shearer – after a year of missing-the-in-action and/or inspiring-and-ignoring-continuous-friendly-fire-incidents – is going to – FINALLY – pick up what Cunliffe has been pushing all this time?

    and if so, am i supposed to conveniently forget the clusterfuck of the past twelve months and be GRATEFUL Shearer has grown a pair?

    Comment by petronious — November 18, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

  5. Toby Manhire in the Listener seems mostly impressed.

    Comment by deepred — November 18, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  6. “am i supposed to conveniently forget the clusterfuck of the past twelve months and be GRATEFUL Shearer has grown a pair?”

    I guess so. or you could vote elsewhere?… What do you want Shearer to do to change the past?

    Comment by nommopilot — November 18, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  7. If Cunliffe delivering very good speeches with solid policy analysis forces Shearer to deliver good speeches with good policy, then a good thing has happened.

    There are criticisms to be had, and I’m willing to make a few (mostly about circumscribed extent and lack of true ambition that is so truly Labour), but these are good policies which can be implemented immediately, and expanded and improved as necessary.

    Comment by George D — November 18, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  8. My drunk response on a Sunday is:

    >Well, they’re pretty good policies. Although it occurs to me that developing left-wing policies is pretty easy in 21st century New Zealand. You just look about for the top dozen-or-so catastrophic market failures, pick one, think of the most blindingly obvious solution, and there’s your policy.

    Yes please. That would be better than not doing shit. Cheers, and good evening.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — November 18, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  9. That’s hilarious

    Comment by Dan — November 18, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

  10. It’s worth comparing what Hollande was projecting while campainging with what he’s actually doing now.

    And that’s from a centre-left govt that has considerable intellectual depth and ability.

    It might be good to have a change but I think the French give a very valuable object lesson about on how difficult things will remain.

    Comment by NeilM — November 18, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

  11. Meanwhile the rest of New Zealand quietly gets on with its’ weekend not even realising the second opposition is having a knees up.

    Comment by Tim — November 18, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

  12. Ha, Tim. Thought you’d died.

    Comment by Judge Holden — November 18, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  13. “Ha, Tim. Thought you’d died.”

    Or barricaded in a fallout bunker after Obama was re-elected.

    Comment by deepred — November 18, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  14. “Meanwhile the rest of New Zealand quietly gets on with its’ weekend … ”

    Love the way Tim has tried so very hard to troll in a grammatically precise manner – and got it wrong.

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 18, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

  15. A subtle implication that Shearer was somehow responsible for the death of Paul Callaghan?

    Comment by Dan — November 18, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

  16. Ah yes the wee left fanbois come out to play after dinner and bath time.

    Comment by Tim — November 18, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

  17. @Dan: “A subtle implication that Shearer was somehow responsible for the death of Paul Callaghan?”

    From Shearer’s speech:

    “A few months ago, I spoke of that vision. I received an email from Paul Callaghan thanking me. Because of course, his thinking had inspired me. I phoned him back to thank him. For devoting his life to making New Zealand a better place.

    He died 3 days later.”

    Comment by Flashing Light — November 18, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

  18. Tim is lame

    Comment by Dan — November 18, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

  19. Stephen J @ 2: “My sense of the room yesterday, and I talked to a lot of people, is that preparing the ground for a Cunliffe challenge was not on the minds of most delegates, while maximising member control over the caucus was.”
    That I have read confirmed by others who were there. It does seem that people like that strange fellow Gower have fabricated plots and conspiracies and there are many who are grabbing the Cunliffe “plot” with both pens and keyboards.
    Well said Stephen. Thanks.

    Comment by xianmac — November 18, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

  20. Terrible terrible speech. Amateur-hour stuff.

    It was a boring series of bulletpoints that sounded like essay prep from a schoolteacher. If NZ Labour wants to reconnect with people it needs to inspire them, get them fired up, not sedate them with clumsy prose like that. I can’t believe there wasn’t someone around to point out, for example, that you can’t build a city on grass roots. Because grass and city buildings tend not to occupy the same space very effectively.

    For the millionth time, they need to get some decent speechwriters.

    Comment by SHG — November 19, 2012 @ 2:15 am

  21. “Labour will enrol everyone into kiwisaver”. So a compulsory saving scheme. Be very wary the next time Labour comes up with a “voluntary initiative”.

    Building a 100k new homes is command and control stuff. Extremely disappointing. That is not fixing a market failure, it is trying to sweep it under the carpet.

    Comment by swan — November 19, 2012 @ 8:34 am

  22. I take it Labour will no longer be going on about property investment being bad for the economy.

    If this initiative is intended to get 100,000 more families into homes than otherwise would have happened then that would be several hundred billion extra in debt in an non-export earning sector.

    Adding a new lower rung on the property ladder could have upward pressure on other property prices as people have children and/or want to move closer to work.

    Making a first home affordable is a great idea, not with some downsides though.

    Comment by NeilM — November 19, 2012 @ 8:42 am

  23. Building homes that could accommodate families for less than $300K indicates Labour would need to build far from the cities on cheap agricultural land and sweep away a vast array of consents, rules and regulations. But more likely it actually intends to create at least $100,000 subsidy to be borne by the taxpayer. IIRC, six or seven years ago Labour unveiled a concept of cheap housing and costed it.. the cheapest house would cost over $400,000, and just recently Joyce unveiled a plan for cheap houses of (IIRC) $410,000.

    So I’m estimating it cant be done and the tax payer would face a $10 billion bill for the subsidy.

    JC

    Comment by JC — November 19, 2012 @ 9:22 am

  24. JC – If a medium density model of somewhere between 40 and 80 dwellings per ha were applied at city fringes (rather than between 15 and 30 that is the norm in new sub-divs), then it could well be achieved for less than 300k per unit.

    I suspect however, that the hypothetical homes would not be planned in this fashion – for some reason, there seems to be almost no appetite for well planned suburban estates with communal land.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 19, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  25. “for some reason, there seems to be almost no appetite for well planned suburban estates with communal land.”
    True, cannot understand this lack of appetite. It’s almost as if folk have seen for themselves the “well planned suburban estates with communal land” around London, Manchester, Glasgow, etc.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 19, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  26. Of course, CF. Urban planning hasn’t changed at all since the 60’s.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 19, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  27. “I suspect however, that the hypothetical homes would not be planned in this fashion”

    The speech explicity mentioned that there would be a mix of different housing styles spanning the range from free-standing homes to apartments.

    Comment by Stephen J — November 19, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  28. Thanks Stephen J.

    I light of that I would read the target cost being an average of 300k as opposed to a ceiling, given that you would be hard pressed to build a freestanding home – even a tiny one – on suburban land for that kind of money.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 19, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  29. In the last fortnight, the Government has left Agriculture out of the NZETS and flagged being in Kyoto Protocol No 2.
    And Shearer and Cunliffe and Labour can’t even say anything critical in response? Have they signed up for Obama’s ‘cone of climate change silence’ too?

    Comment by Mr February — November 19, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

  30. @ Anita #1 – Yep, but not just CER, if:
    “Labour’s government procurement will favor New Zealand companies”
    then Labour will have to abrogate ALL the free trade deals they have negotiated and signed over the last 30 years, such as Helen Clark’s NZ-China Free Trade Agreement.

    Which does rather suggest that Shearer is talking bullsh*t.

    Not to mention that his 100,000 houses over a decade will mostly be gobbled up by net positive immigration. Especially if lots of Kiwis come home now that Australia’s economy is going off the boil.

    Shearer is still trying to manage the failings of free market capitalism – an impossible task. And trying to convince us he will bring ‘change’ without actually touching these hallowed free market pillars of economic orthodoxy.

    Comment by bob — November 20, 2012 @ 1:38 am

  31. “26.Of course, CF. Urban planning hasn’t changed at all since the 60′s.”
    Well, there’s precious little evidence of ANY urban planning being done since then, given the “shortage” of housing we have. Councils now seem too scared of doing central planning wrong, so just tinker about the edges.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 21, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

  32. The struggle in the labour party is between left and right factions and unless there is a clearout
    the problem will continue, the battle for the party to go left will be protracted.
    I Read an article about the conference and how members etc wanted to change how the leader
    was chosen,there was lots of anger etc,a change was strongly objected to by shearer’s troops
    and seeing cunliffe voted in favour of a more democratic system,shearer’s troops mounted the
    assault on cunliffe,the rest we already know.
    The caucus meeting was held and shearer ordered all ministers not to talk to the media,he had
    also rung aroung ministers to ask for a concrete guarantee that they were going to back him
    then and on feb 13, some did,some didn’t, will they loose their portfolios in a shuffle ?,in demanding
    a cast iron guarantee for feb he has ignored the new constitution and the members will at the
    conference,he also ignored the fact that it is a ‘secret ballot’
    He also ignores the fact that he has been the most limp,ineffective,annoying leader labour has
    had for a long time,Rowling comes to mind,at least Rowling was a gentleman,Shearer is a bully
    and control freak,,while ignoring his own capabilities.
    This clown is no good for labour,no good for nz,no good for the membership of labour,all he
    will achieve is that he gives shonkey another 3yrs in 2014,perhaps that’s the plan,national are going
    to be pushing a barrow up a hill election time,but if labour can do so poorly, then that will
    guarantee shonkey another 3yrs,forget shearer’s rhetoric that he wants to win the election,its
    laughable and idiotic,he hasn’t got a hope in hell,its what wannabes say to haul in the trusting
    people, i’m of no illusion that this shearer character is playing the labour party and membership.
    The Right of politics endorse and fully support shearer as leader,wonder why ?

    Comment by anne — November 21, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

  33. @ CF 31

    To clarify, I was refuting your comparison to British Le Corbusier inspired high density urban eyesores as a valid critique of modern medium density planning, as opposed to suggesting that NZs urban planning is effective.

    I agree however that Councils seem afraid to do their fucking job in terms of future proofing our cities.

    Comment by Gregor W — November 22, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  34. GW, my point is that councils have no fucking clue what to do to future proof our cities. We try to tell them: “fix the roads, collect the rubbish, keep our rates low”, but that’s too boring for them, so they start up all sorts of stuff that just drink our rates.
    Such as: we did get “W…ellington” and “Coolest little capital” signs to, err, show that we are cool. No central planner gave us the cuba precinct in the way it is today. Some areas get left behind, rents fall and so new/start-up/edgy businesses move in. No council can plan a cool area (they tried with Courtenay Place, but all they seem to have succeeded in doing is restricting vomit to a particular area). And it looks like they are going to try in Christchurch. “here we’ll have cafes, over here we’ll have art galleries, over here we’ll have a HiTech Campus”, etc. A real city is dynamic and genuine things happen a bit spontaneously and without prediction. Council planned things really only happen because our rates or tax money is put at risk (cough LA Galaxy, RWC, etc).

    We can’t have “medium density housing” by decree, we have to have people WANT it and buy/rent it when it becomes available. As it happens, I’m quite a fan of higher density living. And so are a few other Wellingtonians, hence the number of people living within spitting distance of Tory Street. Folk must come to appreciate the benefits of higher density living without compulsion.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 22, 2012 @ 7:26 pm


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