The well-trod path to the corporate boxes at Eden Park



It’s no surprise to learn from the Herald poll reported yesterday that most New Zealanders believe the gap between rich and poor is growing under National.

The report says in part:

Forty four per cent of the 750 New Zealanders surveyed this month said the gap between the rich and poor had got a lot bigger over the past six years.

A further 30 per cent said it had got a little bigger. Just over 22 per cent said it was about the same, and only 3 per cent believed the gap had closed.

One-third of those surveyed felt they were now better off financially since National became the Government, 30 per cent said they were about the same and virtually the same number said they were worse off. Eight per cent were unsure or didn’t know.

The online Herald survey with the poll, despite its inherent right-wing bias, shows 48% believe National has handled inequality badly with “too many polices (which) only benefit the rich”.

It’s easy to see why people think this way.

TDB Recommends
  • ·         Over a billion dollars in tax cuts for the rich
  • ·         Increasing GST to 15%
  • ·         Selling state assets – and their ongoing revenue streams – to wealthy shareholders
  • ·         Slashing state house waiting lists
  • ·         Selling state houses to make way for McMansions by the sea across Tamaki
  • ·         Contracting out government services to the private sector.

In every area of the economy National’s aim is to strip wealth and income from low and middle income earners to put double linings in the pockets of the wealthy.

New Zealand is one of the most unequal countries in the OECD and making our way steadily to the bottom.

New Zealanders care about inequality and blame the government (in the same online poll only 10% say inequality is not a government responsibility)

Finance Minister Bill English isn’t interested. His spokesperson gave just the typical, meaningless right-wing soundbite – “a number of families are still finding their situation challenging…the best way to help low-income New Zealanders is through a growing economy that supports more jobs and higher incomes.”

So why is National still so high in the polls if New Zealanders care about inequality? Because there is still no contest with Labour on the rich/poor divide. The National-lite party – Labour – recently removed a full $1.5 billion in policy relief from low-income families – reversing its previous plans to take GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and make the first $5,000 of income tax free.

Cunliffe’s response to the poll was weak:

“That’s why things like a capital gains tax and a lift in the top marginal tax rate will provide resources that can be given to give a hand up to the more vulnerable and help close up some of those gaps.”

Those two policies would give some extra resources but the amounts Labour are talking about are pathetic compared to the structural changes in the economy needed to get the 1% off our backs.

No wonder Labour languishes – rudderless and directionless, mired in the 1980s.

Like National, the only direction Labour MPs are sure of is the path to the corporate boxes at Eden Park.


  1. New Zealand is not one of the most unequal countries in the OECD. We are slightly above the average it is true but not by much. The OECD GINI coefficient is 0.31 and our rate is around 0.33. We are comparable to places like Japan and Canada.

    On top of this the perception of NZ inequality increasing dramatically in a straight line over the past 5 years is not supported by the statistics. Inequality today is lower than it was in the early 2000’s and has been on an up and down trajectory rather than steadily increasing.

    If you wish to raise this as a subject you should be ready for your spin to be countered by the facts.

    • From your link Gosman:

      “From the mid-1980s to the late-2000s, inequality rose in 15 out of 19 countries for which longer-run data are available. The increase was strongest in Finland, New Zealand and Sweden.”

      Perhaps this is why NZers perceive inequality to be increasing in NZ? Because… it is???

      If you wish to raise this as a subject you should be ready for your spin to be countered by the facts Gosman.

      • Noone is denying inequality hasn’t increased in NZ since the 1980’s Lara. There is no spin to counter from me.

        What is in dispute is that Inequality in on an upward rise since National took office in 2008. This is not supported by the facts.

        BTW do you notice the other countries on that list. The left’s beloved nations of Finland and Sweden. I’m sure life is hell for the poor in those countries.

        • This really is first rate trolling Gosman, you’ve managed to frame the debate in the comments section on your terms.

          No one has bought up the fact that current levels of inequality and the large number of children living in poverty would require a government to try to bring poverty levels down and you’ve managed to trap your fellow commenters in a pointless debate all the while the people who are being discussed continue to live on in their existing poverty traps. Not only have you served the purpose of the elites by distracting people from the real issue, but you’re also causing useful activist energy to be wasted arguing with you when it could be used for more constructive purposes.

          Well done and a great effort, I’m giving you an A grade for this one.

        • unfortunately income income inequality HAS risen since 2008 when National took over.

          I disagree entirely that life is hell for the poor in Finland and Sweden. they are reasonably wealthy countries.

          the only problem with Sweden and Finland is it’s too bloody cold and there’s not enough sunshine. but that affects all.

        • Gosman says:
          April 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm

          Noone is denying inequality hasn’t increased in NZ since the 1980′s Lara. There is no spin to counter from me.

          What is in dispute is that Inequality in on an upward rise since National took office in 2008. This is not supported by the facts.


          Even the NZ Herald reported in August 2012;

          Household incomes dropped and inequality rose to its highest level ever in New Zealand last year, a Ministry of Social Development report shows.

          The Household Incomes Report measuring the wellbeing of New Zealanders by their total after-tax takings has revealed a fall in average incomes for the first time since the early 1990s.

          It shows the gap between rich and poor widened substantially in 2011, putting inequality at its highest level ever.

          Middle and lower class workers saw their incomes fall sharply, while the rich saw their earnings increase.

          Incomes for the richest New Zealanders – named as decile 10 earners – rose the most sharply.

          The median income for all workers fell three per cent in real terms after going up little from 2010 levels.

          It is the first time the average household income has dropped since it hit a low point in the early 90s, the report said.


          Ironically, the MSD report stated,

          “Meanwhile, child poverty rates have remained flat from 2009 to 2011…”

          – turned out to be wrong! Child poverty had increased as well!!

          Labour is demanding an apology from Finance Minister Bill English, saying he knowingly relied on flawed data when making claims about inequality in New Zealand.

          Treasury and Statistics New Zealand today admitted a major error in its calculations of household disposable income, which overestimated incomes among poorer households.

          This meant the number of children living in poverty was underestimated by 20,000, while the level of income inequality was also underestimated.

          English confirmed today that he had been told of the mistake before Christmas.

          English has this year relied heavily on reports by the Ministry of Social Development’s principal adviser on social sector strategy, Bryan Perry, which in turn relied on the Treasury data, to dismiss claims of growing inequality.

          The admission from Treasury and Statistics NZ today did not change the trend of inequality, MSD said, but did increase it slightly.


          Christ, Gosman, these are media reports I’m referencing – not arcane governments reports hidden amongst a mountain of bureaucracy!

          Do you not see what is going on around you, in our own country?!

          • I do wish you would go to source data rather than rely on reporting of statistics.

            Here is a link that has the latest update on poverty and inequality from MSD including the revisions made after the statistics were revised.


            Please note the following quote from the document:

            “• On the other hand, for many other statistics there is little or no significant change. For example:
            o since the greater impact in 2009, child poverty rates have remained flat or have slightly eased depending on the measure used
            o inequality as measured by the Gini is slightly higher using the revised data, but the trend line is still flat and remains a little lower than the high point in 2004
            o median household income is only a very little lower using the revised data.”

            Inequality AND Poverty are not the highest they have ever been and have NOT been increasing steadily over the past 5 years.

            • Epic fail in data analysis skills Gosman, D-

              It’s 2014. That’s 10 years since 2004.

              Income inequality was at it’s highest in 2004.

              From 2004 to 2009 income inequality reduced.

              National became government in 2008 Gosman, not 2004.

              During their first year of governance the rate of income inequality decline slowed, while it still reduced, and it reached a low in 2009.

              From 2009 to 2011 income inequality increased, under a National government, during a supposed economic recovery. Remember, the GFC was over in March 2009 (I’m using the SPX500, the major US stock market for this date, that’s the date the stock market began a multi year rise).

              Income inequality has decreased from 2011 to 2012, the last year for which NZ Stats provide data, but it remains HIGHER than when National became government in 2008.

              Spin it all you like Gosman. Inequality has overall INCREASED under this National government since they took power. This is from Stats NZ website.


              And finally, I’m learning my lesson to no longer interact with you. Your level of analysis of this data shows you are more inclined to spin than an honest and accurate assessment.

              • Hardly an epic failure when I am stating that incomce inequality has not been steadily rising under national but has gone up then down and is lower than it was in the early 2000’s and you basically agree with me.

              • Let us recap the facts as they stand according to the data that we can all agree on:

                – Inequality in NZ has been higher than it is now.

                – Inequality increased shortly after National took office but has dipped back again post 2011.

                – NZ ranking on Inequality as compared to other nations in the OECD is slighly above the average.

                – We are comparable to nations like Japan and Canada and have lower inequality than Australia.

                – Most nations in the OECD saw increases in inequality post the 1980’s

                – Poverty rates have barely moved since 2008.

                These are the facts as they stand. No spin. No BS. Indisputable.

        • BTW do you notice the other countries on that list. The left’s beloved nations of Finland and Sweden. I’m sure life is hell for the poor in those countries…

          No, not hell.

          But they do have a strong cradle-to-grave social welfare system; a higher standard of living; higher taxes; food in schools; and other social-democratic systems in place.

          We could learn a thing or two from our Scandinavian and Nordic cuzzies, eh?

    • Gosman says:
      April 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      That should read “no one is denying that inequality has increased since the 1980′s”.

      Indeed it should.

      Good to see you’re expanding your horizons.

  2. “Forty four per cent of the 750 New Zealanders surveyed this month said the gap between the rich and poor had got a lot bigger over the past six years.”

    That’s roughly the same percentage as support National, UF, MP, and ACT combined. To be consistent, they would think that increasing inequality was a good thing. They could even make the argument that it was natural, pointing to such things as personality, where someone like Gooseman has none at all, and the rest of us got what he missed out on.

  3. There is another possible reason John that the two figures – 48% who think signficant inequality exists – and the 45% who are opting to vote for National – are similar proportions of the population. Maybe a signicant section of people have swallowed the ethos of the neoliberal system and feel their higher position in terms of income, tax breaks, point of view represented by MSM, access to education – is a fair reflection of their own Superior ability to compete in the grand Neo Darwinist game. Note also that in the recent Colmar Brunton Poll the issue of child poverty is well down the list of election issues for National aligned voters (27% from memory). Actually some people really just do not give a damn my dear. You appear to have left off the $60 baby bonus from your list of Labour policies. I would have thought this should feature in this discussion despite media attempts to discredit it.

  4. National MPs, supporters and internet trolls will sleep well tonight in the confidence that their government’s policies are working as intended.

  5. You are right, Labour, etc have to sort their act out. But being high in the polls is how and why this will continue until and putting up an alternative to National won’t work until National are held to account for pretending everything is just wonderful.

    I will keep repeating this but one of the major reasons National is so high in polls is they continue to market, twist statistics, invent if not down right make up a rosy picture image for New Zealand. The good news never stops and we are so damned close to paradise it’s not funny. And it isn’t because we are not, it’s all a facade. But Nationals Pleasantville goes uncontested and half the voters at this time are convinced it must be true. There are well off vested interests here doing bloody well for themselves so don’t expect any changes.

    Example – The latest crime stats are a goldmine for the opposition if they can be bothered even just scratching the surface and a minefield for National if they do. They are the best and most obvious example of choreographing a fictional scene this government have thus far produced. How can the police, who have had a third of the budget sliced off by National somehow perform this miracle? Does this impossible equation not even raise a tiny suspicion amongst our Shadow Police ministers. I mean where the hell are they??

    As with everything National claim, it must not only be questioned but pulled to pieces and the cold light of reality shone on it. Only then will the bullshit cease to make an impact on the polls and we might get somewhere on the subject you raised and more.

    • Focus on the stats then. Please show me statistics that show a significant and sustained increase in inequality and/or poverty since National took office in 2008. Then you have the ammunition to back the claims you and Mr Minto have made.

  6. Slagging Labour will not help our country recover from the onslaught of the last 6 years. There’s no doubt that Greendom is attractive to many now that it’s acquired a bit more ‘class’ and has joined the unabashed middle-class milieu. These two main ‘left’ parties occupy different spaces. Labour is historically a party of (at least trying to be) government; Green has never pretended to be ready to run the country, it seems. The working ‘class’ from way back only ever wanted a fair slice of the pie. (Sovietism and Maosim were drastic pipe-dreams after all, weren’t they?) That today’s leftie people might now live in leafy suburbia (a by-now boring dig at David Cunliffe) is surely not a ‘bad thing’. Having a ‘working class’ background is considered a badge of entry to LP – but these people’s offspring will be two generations on from the ‘working class’. The whole ethos of a ‘left’ is to gain parity, I would have thought. (That might include being seen in a corporate box – call it Research perhaps!) The crucial difference from the present government, is that a true social democrat government will have a balanced philosophy and a commitment to social justice. But it won’t deny that we’re now in the 21st century. The clock cannot be turned right back.

Comments are closed.