Tag Archives: Andrew Little

Surely this is a flounder like flip flop of flat fish proportions right?

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So a few peeps have been asking me ‘how can they trust the Labour Party to not raise the retirement age when the party had voted to do just that in the past, even campaigned on it?’ Surely this is a flounder like flip flop of flat fish proportions right?

I won’t pretend I know exactly what’s going on, because I don’t, but I’ve had a quick look at some news articles from when they idea was first floated until now, so I’ll share this: from what I can tell Labour has held the position of raising the retirement age from since Phil Goff days, and mostly in response to the government suspending taxpayer contributions to the SuperFund (Cullen Fund). The SuperFund was designed to help address future universal super costs by annually funding a percentage of it future payments via investment in income producing assets.

However, when set up in 2003, and to serve its intended purpose, the fund required a commitment from future governments of comprehensive funding until 2020. The funding forecast ensured the fund had the necessary capital to make the required investments it would need to grow the fund to a state where it would be able to do the job it was tasked with. This is not happening and hasn’t been since 2009. To a lesser, but not insignificant degree, the government’s tinkering with Kiwisaver has already wiped money from people’s retirement accounts, meaning the numbers needing rather than merely opting to draw super in later years is likely to increase, ergo keeping overall costs high.

In light of the government’s seemingly willful blindness to the importance of funding the SuperFund, David Parker argued in 2014 for the Labour Party to retain Goff’s raising the retirement age plank as part of their retirement policy. Labour’s policy sought to signal to the country that in the complete absence of any other motivations to address future super costs under National, the age of entitlement would have to be the first cab off the rank for future governments desperate for solutions. Parker, like Goff believed if raising the retirement age was to become inevitable if National stayed in government, then it was important to signal to voters the date the age would have to start to moving up decades out, not years like what we saw in the 1990s when the age moved from 60 to 65 years over 10. Labour’s policy mirrored the Retirement Commissioner’s recommendation of reaching the increased retirement age in twenty years by 2033, thereby giving people an opportunity to consider alternative options, ie upskilling, increasing Kiwisaver contributions, private pension schemes, commercial investments.

Not contributing to the SuperFund from 2009 has cost New Zealanders up to $20 billion in contributions (ie capital to invest) and up to $50 billion in income producing assets. Meanwhile the government has drawn down $11 billion in dividends, leaving even less money for the fund to re-invest. SuperFund is a high performing asset, for context it is New Zealand’s biggest tax payer. In contrast, National want to increase the retirement age to save $4 billion in 2040.

Labour leader Andrew Little argued the maths vs the values of a fair society didn’t stack up and said as much during his leadership bid. He campaigned to keep the retirement age at 65 and democratically party members voted to back his call. A call that says, I believe in a future Labour government once again making retirement funding an immediate and pressing issue that needs addressing now – not in 2040 when Bill’s 85, and comfortably numb on his government paid MP pension.

—–
“Within the space of two terms of office we have put an end to decades of turmoil during which New Zealanders struggled to prepare for retirement while politicians kicked superannuation around like a football.
We have now stabilised the long term funding of the basic state pension so that it will remain a secure bedrock for all New Zealanders. And this year we have introduced a savings scheme that will place an achievable programme of retirement savings within the grasp of every working New Zealander.
We are giving New Zealanders a tangible stake in their future, and ensuring that that future is a solid one.”
—– Michael Cullen, Labour Government, 2005

So here we are in 2017 suffering from successive right governments unwilling to do the necessary funding to support future super costs, now claiming, like that other ship that couldn’t be turned Margaret Thatcher, we have no alternative…

T.I.N.A my …..

* Please note: no flounder were harmed in the making of this opinion/comment *

Time to go John

” …a sense in which Andrew Little is responsible is that he has been part of a campaign of deliberate lies… It is very sad that an opposition party would [behave] so dishonestly…”

Given John Key’s entire tenure as prime minister is built on lies, this from Matthew Hooton over at The Dimpost’s comment section is somewhat ironic, and insulting.

In October 2008 as the then opposition leader, Key maintained his 1991 statement to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into failed corporate high-flier Equiticorp and it’s fraudulent H-Fee transactions with Australian corporate giant Elders IXL, was accurate. But his well documented relationship with infamous New York based Bankers Trust currency raider Andrew Krieger says otherwise.

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We know Key worked with Krieger, this was confirmed in great detail by hi Bankers Trust boss Gavin Walker* in February 2008. Telling media Key knew everything Krieger was executing across the Auckland Bankers Trust’s branch’s trading desk; indeed looking after Krieger was part of Key’s job description. Key himself has said he can still recall his first phone call with the trader, saying Krieger asked him about New Zealand’s GDP and it’s monetary supply.

We can also be sure Key was at his previous firm Elders Merchant Finance on 17 August 1987, as he filmed for Close Up’s “Big Dealers” episode on that day. What we know of Krieger is that he resigned from Bankers Trust on 23 February 1988. His resignation is well documented, having been reported in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and later in Krieger’s own book, ‘The Money Bazaar’.

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To have worked with Krieger, which there is no doubt, Key needed to have left Elders Merchant Finance to start with Bankers Trust sometime after 17 August 1987 but before Krieger’s 23 February 1988 resignation date.

Therefore Key’s statement to the Equiticorp inquiry in which he told investigators he left  Elders Merchant Finance for Bankers Trust on 31 August 1988 can only be a lie. His insistence to voters in October 2008 that his statement was entirely accurate can only be another one.

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Lying to an SFO investigation carries a maximum $15,000 fine or twelve months jail, more for conspiring to mislead, and I think any investigation would find that’s exactly what Key (and his ex-Elders colleague Paul Richards**) did.

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Time to go John.

_____

* Gavin Walker, current Chair, Board of Guardians of New Zealand Superfund
** Paul Richards, current head of Foreign Exchange Distribution, UBS, North America

John Key talks free tertiary education

OD: “Finally on education, in your first State of the Nation speech you spoke about the opportunity you had for a good education. Kids today end up with an average student debt of $28,000 to get the same education as you did. Any plans to go back to tertiary education, free tertiary education?”

JK: “I don’t know if we’d go back free…” (continued below)

"Let's Be Frank" with Oliver Driver, ALT TV, 6 March, 2008,  1.06 - 5.29 
 

OD: “Why not?”

JK: “Um, sheer cost of it I guess. It’s about…”

OD: “$350 million a year.”

JK: “Yeah. I guess what would you do with the $9 billion of student loans.”

OD: (partly unaudible, possibly ‘scrap em’)

JK: “there’s equity issues..”

OD: “C’mon lets look at you, here you are, the perfect example of a man who was born into a state house, made good, got his education, was able to go to university because it was free.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “Ya know, got to the place where you are.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “And now, you might be our prime minister.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “And yet the next generation of John Keys’ have to pay $28,000 in student loans, if they can get a student loan in the first place.”

JK: “Yeah. Look there’s a number of different parts of that right. Firstly, probably, that tertiary education is widened out substantially to where it was. So a lot of those students, I mean the loans aren’t necessarily um related to, ya know tertiary qualifications, they’re actually around – well they are tertiary but not university per se, they might be a whole lot of other sort of areas.”

OD: “Sure, but it is estimated around $350 million is all we would need to provide free tertiary education.”

JK: “Yeah. Well {int}”

OD: “Now surely with the massive surpluses you keep going on about and the huge desire we have for ‘tax cuts’, we can afford these ‘tax cuts’ because of these huge surpluses. You could give every kid in this country back to having free tertiary education.”

JK: “I guess what I want to say to you is look, I mean we are looking at things like student allowances and all those sort of things. We made it clear we’re going to keep loans at zero percent, and we’ve made it clear, if you repay early , and some will, they’ll get a 10% discount on that.”

OD: “But you didn’t have to do it.”

JK: “I know.”

OD: “And look at where you are?”

JK: “Yeah but the issue..”

OD: “And you’re worried about the brain drain, you’re worried about upskilling our people, and you’re worried about all these sorts of things and yet, that, seems to me one of the most basic things you could do.”

JK: “And there are some areas where we could do that right and we’ve argued that we want to ‘bond’ doctors or might want to certain things with teachers, and write off their student loans, which is the virtually the same thing. I mean wholesale could we do it I dunno, we could look at it. I mean one thing I could say to you is, and this is what I say to young people when I go out to all of the schools all the time – if you’ve got a chance, go to university don’t worry about the student loan, that is the least of your problems but do two things, finish the degree…”

OD: “It’s not the least of their problems once they graduate, I know them.”

JK: “Yeah”

OD: “They’re walking around with $28,000, $40,000, $60,000 dollar debts around their necks, while you were in your first year of work, earning your first amount of cash, they’re hard slog paying back their debt.”

JK: “Yeah”

OD: “To be an educated part of society.”

JK: “Yeah. I mean yeah, you’ve got to look at it and say, “hey what’s driving those costs”, so what is your average course fee at university? About $4000 dollars are year? That sort of number? Probably. Um, I haven’t looked recently, but I guess it’s that sort of number. So, so a lot of what is driving that debt is because they are living away from home right? Now, so, had I been at university and lived away from home – I mean I know I had the luxury of being able to live at home, and I was in Christchurch, and I could go to Canterbury – but the bottom line is, I would have racked up debt then too. I mean, even back in my day, it was only the fees that were paid. So.”

OD: “So do that.”

JK: “Yeah, well that’s a possibility I suppose. I’m just saying, I understand where you are coming from and I’m not disagreeing with you. We want people to go and we don’t want people racked down with debt; and one of the reasons I didn’t like zero percent loans, and I was open about it in the campaign in 2005, was I was really worried people would take down more debt, and that actually even shows, they have, and for longer.”

OD: “But don’t you think part of the reason people are fleeing to Australia is to escape them?”

JK: “Partly because {int} well partly, {int} partly what the problem is I think, is they get this debt and while they’re at university it doesn’t seem that much, they say “ok, I owe $30,000 grand, well I’m gonna start working, I’ll pay it off”. As soon as they come out, there’s lots of other expenses that they hadn’t thought about – they want to move out, whatever, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever it might be – move in, and the problem is that debt hangs around, at which point their income is higher – then they go…”

OD: “Hang on just two minutes ago you said to me you encourage kids to not worry about the debt, to go to university, the debt won’t matter, and now you’re out here telling me that debt builds up, and it’s a whole lot more expensive, and they have to run to Australia.”

JK: “No. I’ll tell you why I think it shouldn’t matter if they get debt, and the answer to that is, getting the qualification, all the academic evidence shows you, your tertiary qualified, you complete your degree, your average income earning stream is much higher. So it’s what I say to you, what I say to young people is, get the qualification, and make sure you go there, make sure you complete it.”

OD: “I’m just saying I think you should think about that. You want people to not leave for Australia. You want increase our national average income. Surely free tertiary education is a way to achieve both of those things. In some part. ”

(Please report any transcribing errors below, thank you)

Does the prime minister stand by all his statements?

It looks like today’s questions were a coordinated effort by opposition parties to make the prime minister answer questions and not have him fob them off to someone else or deny he has any responsibility to answer it. I thought Duncan Garner was a political journalist once, so surely he would have known this? Or is this fobbing off questions a new thing, unique to Team Key?

When MPs ask Key if he “stands by all his statements” he has to answer questions that are put to him and not pass it on to one of his Ministers. If they simply asked him about a particular subject, he can blow it off and not answer it by saying he has no responsibility for that portfolio, thereby wasting a valuable question. The government does this so the prime minister is kept from having to answer tough questions and/or be associated with dodgy, useless, inept, corrupt, etc, government ministers and departments.

For example you could ask Key about the state of operations at a particular DHB, he could claim he has no ‘ministerial responsibility for that’ and pass the question to his Minister of Health to answer. Or he might have made the claim a health department is operating very well, but when it’s proven it isn’t, he can simply deny he has any knowledge or responsibility for it. Whereas asking him if he “stands by all this statements” (usually it is only in relation to a particular topic) but to make the point the opposition parties gave him no wiggle room today by asking if he stood by all his statements since becoming prime minister, means he has to answer, and truthfully, MPs including the PM can not to lie to or mislead parliament. It’s probably the worse thing a politician can do.

Passing off questions has been happening a lot with this government and it frustrates democracy. A country needs a strong opposition (regardless of your politics) to hold governments to account but if they are hindered in the very house where they are meant to get answers for the public, from the very ministers or a prime minister who serve us, then there’s not much an opposition can be, but inept – and that doesn’t do anyone any favours. I applaud what the parties did to day. More of the same please.

Does the prime minister stand by all his statements

Does the prime minister stand by all his statements