The New Kiwi Deal – New Zealand First

By   /   August 12, 2015  /   8 Comments

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At the moment, you’re paid an unemployment benefit for the specific purpose of finding work. That all sounds well and good in theory, but the slight issue is there aren’t enough jobs to go round – meaning we force beneficiaries to jump through endless rounds of WINZ-directed hoops in order to prove they’re doing everything in their power to seek regular, paid employment.

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One of the more interesting parts of last weekend’s New Zealand First Convention was Winston’s announcement of the so-called New Kiwi Deal. This immediately grabbed my attention as a direct and potent example of a social democratic slash against the seriously silly status quo economica which we languish under today.

Unfortunately, not everybody was *quite* so enthused, and several members of the Press Gallery appear to have taken it upon themselves to pour cold water on the idea.

I’ve detailed my thoughts about the rest of John Armstrong’s article on our 2015 Convention elsewhere, but suffice to say the part of Armstrong’s article which really gnashed my goat in a grinder was his commentary about Winston’s unveiling of the New Kiwi Deal campaign. Specifically his suggestion that this part of Winston’s speech only served to substantiate the charge that our Party is old, tired, and ultimately stale.

Rather like Armstrong’s analysis itself, in fact.

Now it’s true that we’re once again (consciously) looking to the past on this one. As some commentators have noted, both the name and the scope and ambit of the policy are directly inspired by measures undertaken in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s visionary response to the Great Depression.

And there’s a very good reason for that.

We genuinely believe that thanks to thirty years of pernicious economic mismanagement, our society and our economy are hitting a crisis point. Particularly out in the Regions.

Instead of just blindly pretending that there isn’t a problem, and that the manipulation of employment figures by National represents a worthwhile substitute for job growth … we’ve chosen to do something different.

We’re proposing a series of serious structural economic reforms that will fundamentally change the shape of our economy and nation.

These include Reserve Bank reform, to help out our exporters; an overhaul of the tax system, to make it fairer; and most interestingly, an entirely new approach to making use of the surplus labour in our economy, rather than letting it lie fallow.

At the moment, you’re paid an unemployment benefit for the specific purpose of finding work. That all sounds well and good in theory, but the slight issue is there aren’t enough jobs to go round – meaning we force beneficiaries to jump through endless rounds of WINZ-directed hoops in order to prove they’re doing everything in their power to seek regular, paid employment.

The waste in this process is twofold:

First up, of human resources. Beneficiaries with useful skills, talents, and if nothing else their bodies and minds themselves, are left to languish hunting for jobs that simply don’t exist – instead of being able to make a contribution to our economy.

The state, meanwhile, subsidizes their poverty and economic idleness as the apparently acceptable sunk cost of a market approach to employment. And it’s all justified by Treasury on the basis that at least it keeps down inflation.

Instead of continuing this cycle of waste and inactivity, wouldn’t it be MUCH better if the state paid long-term unemployed New Zealanders a FAIR wage to work to improve their communities?

This is in the best traditions of the Post-War Economic Consensus as it uses the power of the state to unlock and empower the vast and untapped pool of labour and talent which exists out there in our economy amidst the human casualties of neoliberalism. And it’s something that would NEVER happen if simply left to the market – or, for that matter, if we just left unemployment to the “investment model” John Armstrong apparently favours instead.

This stubborn unwillingless to see ordinary New Zealanders suffer due to governmental apathy and a hidebound more-market ideology is pretty much the reason why I joined up with New Zealand First in the first place, and I’m exceptionally glad that we’re metaphorically rolling up the sleeves of state in order to make a difference – rather than blithely assuming that we can just continue to let ordinary Kiwis and our communities continue to fall through the cracks.

And despite sharing the name with a scheme from the late 1990s, this iteration of the Community Wage policy looks set to be far broader in scope and different in ambit than a mere “work for the dole” set-up.

From my many conversations with Social Development spokesperson Darroch Ball over the years, I feel highly confident that he wouldn’t settle for a mere re-hash, and will be working to craft a worthwhile and valuable instrument with which to protect and serve our nation while helping our unemployed to build their skills and make a contribution to their communities.

It represents an improvement in how we do both unemployment and what I’m going to call “societal development” (rather than social development – because that’s the other output of all this).

Because the alternative – what we’re doing right now – is *quite literally* not working.

I look forward to seeing this policy fleshed out in public with great interest and enthusiasm.

I can but hope John Armstrong’s doing the same.

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8 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    As we go ton the wall on the fallacy of relying on a mythical magical “rock star economy” it now sounds hollow and “is old, tired, and ultimately stale.” and NZ First is always full of energy and new ideas I this changing world.

    We need NZ First and Winston to get us through what we now face ahead of us as National’s economic machinery disintegrates.

    Read this if you are not sure where we are going.

    Subject: Reuter news NZ economy stumbles & dollar drops again that’s bad for the New Zealand economy because we depend on them for a big chunk of exports,” said Imre Sperizer,

    NZ economy stumbles & dollar drops again

    NZ dollar drops vs. greenback, gains vs, yuan after Bank of China devalues currency

    Tuesday 11th August 2015

    “that’s bad for the New Zealand economy because we depend on them for a big chunk of exports,” said Imre Sperizer,

    The New Zealand dollar fell after China devalued the yuan, stoking concern economic growth is weaker than expected in the nation’s biggest trading partner.

    The kiwi traded at 65.52 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington, down from 66.10 cents late yesterday. The currency rose to 4.1396 yuan from 4.1033 yuan.

    China is the biggest two-way trading partner with New Zealand and the second-largest export market after Australia, which in turn counts China as its biggest market. That leaves both the kiwi and the Aussie vulnerable to any downturn in China’s economic growth and demand for raw materials ranging from milk powder to iron ore and coking coal. The People’s Bank of China set the midpoint for the yuan at 6.2298 per dollar, down from the previous day’s fix of 6.1162 per dollar, and said it was aiming for 2 percent depreciation.

    “It’s consistent with the Chinese economy being weak and that’s bad for the New Zealand economy because we depend on them for a big chunk of exports,” said Imre Sperizer, currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. “And the 2 percent devaluation today – is that the end of the story? The market believes this may be the beginning of many more to come” and could lead to a “devaluation race” among a group of currencies including the kiwi and the Aussie.

    Westpac is projecting that the New Zealand dollar will fall as low as 62 US cents this year.

    China’s move comes after weaker Chinese trade and manufacturing data was released at the weekend, raising concern about an economic slowdown.

    “They are trying to bolster their economy and the easiest way of doing it is by making it better for their exporters and make themselves more competitive again globally,” said Tim Kelleher, head of institutional FX sales New Zealand at ASB Bank.

    “It’s more monetary easing in Asia, theoretically it will decrease our competitiveness as well.” Kelleher said. “If all the countries are easing their monetary policy then it puts further pressure on the RBNZ to ease as well.”

    The New Zealand dollar increased against the Australian dollar, reflecting the Australian economy’s bigger exposure to China, Kelleher said.

    The kiwi recently traded at 89.44 Australian cents, from 89.29 cents late yesterday. The local currency fell to 59.67 euro cents from 60.23 cents, and declined to 42.07 British pence from 42.67 pence yesterday. It fell to 81.68 yen from 82.22 yen.

    The trade-weighted index slipped to 70.32 from 70.45.

    The two-year swap rate was little changed at 2.86 percent and five-year swaps rose about 3 basis points to 3.16 percent.

    http://www.sharechat.co.nz/article/de0c8757/nz-dollar-drops-vs-greenback-gains-vs-yuan-after-bank-of-china-devalues-currency.html?printable=1

  2. Mike in Auckland says:

    “First up, of human resources. Beneficiaries with useful skills, talents, and if nothing else their bodies and minds themselves, are left to languish hunting for jobs that simply don’t exist – instead of being able to make a contribution to our economy.

    The state, meanwhile, subsidizes their poverty and economic idleness as the apparently acceptable sunk cost of a market approach to employment. And it’s all justified by Treasury on the basis that at least it keeps down inflation.

    Instead of continuing this cycle of waste and inactivity, wouldn’t it be MUCH better if the state paid long-term unemployed New Zealanders a FAIR wage to work to improve their communities?”

    This sounds like an attempt to make “workfare” palatable to the voting public, is it not?

    Sadly such approaches have also led to abuse in the past, where job-seekers are given crap jobs, that have nothing to offer to improve their skills and abilities to get jobs on the “market”, paying a decent income.

    I am apprehensive towards these ideas for that very reason, until I see NZ First or any other party offer realistic, fair and respectful employment schemes, that offer something really useful, besides of getting people to replace council workers or other employees, doing low skilled kind of work, to keep streets clean, lawns mowed, to tidy up beaches, to rake leaves, to work in low skilled “conservation” or other types of “jobs”.

    Perhaps WINZ should rather stop pressing sole parents with kids to care for and sick and disabled to look for non existing, or marginal work, than push every beneficiary off benefits, just to get costs saved, no matter whether there is work, no matter whether there are jobs paying a basic living, that is also not harming health.

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/16737-work-has-fewer-%e2%80%9chealth-benefits%e2%80%9d-than-mansel-aylward-and-other-so-called-experts-claim-it-can-cause-serious-harm/

    • Aaron says:

      There’s no need to actually do “work for the dole” because there’s actually so much money being spent by WINZ that there’s plenty to spare – by which I mean the actual benefit payments make up less than half of WINZ’s budget.

      I idea I heard from someone is that we could put a lot of people to work fencing off streams and cleaning up waterways (as just one example) by combining an individual’s dole payment plus the associated admin costs to give someone a decent wage plus have a bit left over for the materials (seedlings, wire and posts) to do the work.

      No need for a beauracracy, no need to hold beneficiaries to ransom, just use the same money to employ people for an honest day’s work. They get their self respect back and we get our rivers and streams cleaned up at the same time.

  3. Andrewo says:

    Yeah I thought ‘work for the dole’ was a step in the right direction but it was stopped by Helen Clark as soon as she got into power.

    I recall talking to the manager of a town gardens after it was stopped who said he’d got several tens of thousand hours of work out of beneficiaries which had improved and expanded the gardens and given many of them marketable skills – the proof of which was seeing them starting their own businesses doing tiling, landscaping, paving etc.

    I would also guess there would be a positive impact on the crime rate if they were at least kept busy.

    • Kingi says:

      Well that clearly depends on what you mean by “work for the dole”. If beneficiaries can add to their dole by doing a bit of work that’s great. If its punitive, as in ‘no work, no dole’ which is what I suspect you have in mind, then its only going to lock people further into a disempowered underclass. In your wildest, most extreme fascist dreams, is that what you really want for your fellow human beings?

  4. Sam Sam says:

    As a means of setting prices both socialism and capitalism have failed. Instead of saying what you call societle develpoment I would call post capitalism. China has a post socialism model, where the ego gratification and sexual lust is been marginalised in a series of major fraud arrests, remove those from the equation and you have a new set of parameters driving the economy. Post Freudian.

    Put in another way. It doesn’t change the fact Grahem Hart touches himself because he has a billion dollars. Maybe he could give a billion away in philanthropy to be a good human being. That’s the kind of thing we would be moving away from to a frictionless society of skills accumulation.

  5. Dex says:

    “We genuinely believe that thanks to thirty years of pernicious economic mismanagement, our society and our economy are hitting a crisis point. Particularly out in the Regions. ”

    Ironically Winston has been part of Governments that implemented it and also helped prop them up from the outside.

    The only reason he is opposed to it now is as a point of difference, not ideological change.

  6. Stuart Munro says:

    Most Asian economies run schemes of this kind. There’s plenty of work in NZ that wants doing – but the quisling government is busy gutting NZ for the benefit of foreign investors.