Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

By   /   June 6, 2015  /   73 Comments

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State assets such as housing and schools are suffering a lack of maintenance, the likes of which we have seen only in Third World nations. The recent case of Northland College in Kaikohe revealed a badly run-down facility that was so delapidated that police asked to use them for training simulations because they represented the closest thing available to a “ghetto environment”

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The last few weeks have produced some curious stories from the media, relating to the current government that, at first glance, have no common thread linking them.

Closer scrutiny yields a different perspective…

1 April 2009

National implements first round of tax cuts.

According to Dear Leader Key, the 2009 tax cuts cost the government $1 billion;

“…The tax cuts we have delivered today will inject an extra $1 billion into the economy over the coming year, thereby helping to stimulate the economy during this recession. More important, over the longer term these tax cuts will reward hard work and help to encourage people to invest in their own skills, in order to earn and keep more money.”

1 October 2010

National carries out second round of tax cuts.

According to information obtained from Parliamentary Library in May 2012, and released by the Greens, the 2010 tax cuts cost the country an additional $2 billion;

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

Cost of both tax cuts, in terms of lost revenue: $2.6 billion – $3.2 billion, per annum.

8 May 2014

Then-Minister for Housing, Nick Smith confirms in Parliament that National has been demanding multi-million dollar dividends from Housing New Zealand;

“The average dividend under the 5 years so far of this Government has been $88 million. The dividend this year is $90 million.”

The dividend payable does not include taxes paid by Housing NZ.

24 September 2014

Fonterra cuts payout to farmers for dairy milk solids  by 70 cents to $5.30/kg milk solids.

6 October 2014

Dear Leader Key reveals that the international fall in dairy prices will affect the government’ tax revenue. Key states;

It can have some impact because if that’s the final payout, the impact would be as large as $5 billion for the economy overall, and you would expect that to flow through to the tax revenue, both for the 14/15 year and the 15/16 year...”

Reported by TV3’s Brook Sabin on the same day;

“A big state-house sell-off is on the way, and up to $5 billion-worth of homes could be put on the block.

The shake-up of the Government’s housing stock will be a key focus for the next three years, with Finance Minister Bill English to lead it.

On the block is everything from a tiny 75 square metre two-bedroom state house in Auckland’s Remuera, on the market for $740,000, to a three-bedroom home in Taumarunui for just $38,000. Thousands more properties will soon hit the market.”

10 December 2014

Fonterra announced that payouts to farmers would drop from $5.30/kg of milk solids to $4.70/kg. A Fairfax report states;

The predicted payout could hurt the national economy for a couple of years, including tax revenue.

28 January

Dear Leader Key announced the sale of 1,000 to 2,000 state houses within the year, and suggested there might be further sales later.

30 April

Fonterra announces further reduction of milk solid payout to farmers from $4.70/kg milk solids to $4.50/kg of milk solids.

6 May

National announced that it’s entire stock of 370 state houses in Invercargill, and 1,250 in Tauranga, would be put on the market to be sold off.

22 May

National’s 2015 Budget included;

  • Dumping the $1,000 Kiwisaver ‘kick-start’ government contribution
  • $684 million deficit for 2014/2015
  • a new travel tax on arriving/departing airport travellers
  • extension of a telecommunications tax to fund government’s rural broadband expansion programme

31 May

A story in the NZ Herald by Lynley Bilby reported that schools throughout the country were cutting back on their activities due to funding constraints;

Financially strapped secondary schools are cutting back on classroom activities, dropping field trips, ditching science experiments and even removing courses after a crackdown on parent donation rules.

[…]

In one case a secondary school had to abandon an NCEA Level 2 biology field trip to the beach because it could not afford to hire a bus.

The science teacher had to apply to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to alter the data collection assessment so the students would not fail.

Another school was forced to alter its science curriculum by reducing experiments to trim costs.

One school said it had done away with activities outside the school gates, including a sea kayaking standard for year 12 physical education students.

Principals reported outdoor education programmes, food, hospitality and technology courses could be affected by the funding guidelines.

[…]

The recently released Budget saw the Government fund school operational grants to the tune of $1.32 billion for the 2015/16 financial year.

But the NZSPC  [New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council] said that was not enough to meet costs, particularly for low decile schools.

It is apparent that state funding of education  is inadequate, and schools are either having to make drastic cuts to  “classroom activities, dropping field trips, ditching science experiments and even removing courses” – or raise “voluntary donations” from parents. Those “donations” and fundraising events by parents and teachers raised more than $357 million in  2012, an increase of  $16 million from 2011.

Nearly a third of a billion dollars – that is the shortfall of full funding of education in this country.

1 June

National announced the launch of so-called “social bonds“, where;

…the Government will pay a return to investors, determined by whether or not agreed social targets have been achieved.

The Government said social bonds were about the private and public sector organisations operating together to fund and deliver services.

This year’s Budget set aside $28.8 million to fund what is essentially contracting  out some mental-health services to private investors. As Health Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman explained in Parliament the next day;

” One of the benefits of social bonds is that they protect service providers by shifting financial risk away from the providers and on to investors who provide the funding and who are better placed to absorb risk…

[…]

…social bonds are an exciting financial instrument with the potential to revitalise social policy delivery and inject private sector funding and innovation into the sector.”

Note the term used by Dr Coleman (quoting from a Dept of Internal Affairs report); “financial instruments”. According to investopedia.com, a “financial instrument is defined as;

A real or virtual document representing a legal agreement involving some sort of monetary value. In today’s financial marketplace, financial instruments can be classified generally as equity based, representing ownership of the asset, or debt based, representing a loan made by an investor to the owner of the asset.

[…]

Financial instruments can be thought of as easily tradeable packages of capital, each having their own unique characteristics and structure. The wide array of financial instruments in today’s marketplace allows for the efficient flow of capital amongst the world’s investors.

In effect, funding for mental health services is being transferred from the State – the traditional source – to private investors. Plainly put – National is seeking investment funding for mental health services.

These so-called “social bonds” appear to be a continuation of privatisation-by-stealth.

Interestingly, the right-wing think-tank, ‘New Zealand Initiative‘ (formerly the Business Roundtable and NZ Institute) published a report in March advocating the use of  social  bonds, and calling for the government to implement them. Three months later, National did precisely that.

As the government’s tax revenue was slashed by between $2.6 billion – $3.2 billion, per annum, after the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts, National’s tax-take and expenditure was further put under pressure by the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis; the resulting Great Recession; rising unemployment; tumbling dairy pay-outs; and the Christchurch re-build.

National’s much heralded prediction of a  $372 million Budget surplus this year collapsed into a massive $684 million deficit – a turn-around of nearly a billion dollars.

A billion dollars – the cost of the 2009 tax cuts.

But added to the fiscal deficit is another deficit; the hidden social costs which New Zealanders are slowly, belatedly, waking up to.

Community organisations are winding back, or closing down completely;

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Relationships Aortearoa - funding cuts - Anne Tolley - budget 2015

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State assets such as housing and schools are suffering a lack of maintenance, the likes of which we have seen only in Third World nations. The recent case of Northland College in Kaikohe revealed a badly run-down facility that was so delapidated that police  asked to use them for training simulations because they represented the closest thing available to a “ghetto environment”, according to school principal, Jim Luders.

Luders’ description of his school is hard to believe in 21st century New Zealand;

“The conditions are appalling. They’re unsafe. There’s water leaks, mould, asbestos in parts. It’s without doubt the worst school stock in New Zealand.

I would challenge any school to send in photos that are worse.”

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Northland College students stuck with 'worst classrooms in New Zealand'

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Back in 2008, an ERO report highlighted the poor state of Northland College. Seven years later, the problem remains unchanged.

New Zealand’s State housing does not fare better. TVNZ’s Corin Dann wrote this piece on 24 March, which should have raised alarm bells throughout the nation (it did not);

The Finance Minister is signalling a deferred maintenance bill for the country’s state houses of $1.2 billion will have to be met by the government in future.

Community housing providers looking to buy state houses off the government say they believe Housing New Zealand has failed to carry around $1.2 billion in maintenance on state houses.

[…]

Mr English says the lack of maintenance on state houses is concerning and that in the long run the government will need to invest the $1.2 billion dollars in state houses to get them up to scratch.

[…]

When asked why Housing New Zealand had not spent as much money as it should have on maintenance, Mr English put the blame partly on the previous Labour government saying they had chosen to build new state houses rather than fix up old ones.

However, when pressed he conceded that “looking back everyone could have performed better”.

$1.2 billion dollars. Half the cost of the 2010 tax cuts.

Which, in part, explained why the Salvation Army assessed National’s offer to buy some State houses – and promptly ran a mile. As the SA’s spokesperson, Major Campbell Roberts stated, with crystal clarity;

“We would be faced with significant maintenance issues, houses which have got the wrong tenants … we would also need to do extensive development.

We would be putting so much resource into this that we could not actually put resource into anything else.

We can’t guarantee that we would be able to improve things for the state tenants, which is exactly what we would want to do by taking [the properties] over at this stage, on our own.”

Community Housing Aotearoa director, Scott Figenshow, was even more to the point;

“Our members are very concerned about the families they work with, and are only interested if they can do a better job than Housing New Zealand. At the moment the sums simply don’t stack up.

Last month the Government confirmed $1.2 billion of deferred maintenance on the state housing stock. Why would a provider want to purchase a liability?” 

Figenshow suggested, instead, that Government reinvest the $220 million it was forecast to receive in tax and dividends from Housing NZ, back into much needed maintenance and upgrades.

For two year old Emma-Lita Bourne, tenant of a State house in Otara, South Auckland, the situation is academic. She died last August living in an environment that was clearly not conducive for human health and well-being;

Two-year-old Emma-Lita Bourne died in Auckland’s Starship Hospital in August last year following a brain haemorrhage.

She had been taken to hospital with a fever, which turned out to be a form of pneumonia.

In his findings, released on Thursday, coroner Brandt Shortland said pneumonia played a part in Emma-Lita’s death and the Housing New Zealand home in Otara where her family lived may have been to blame for her ill-health.

Other children in the family also became sick while the family was living there, with one suffering from rheumatic fever.

[…]

In May 2014, Emma-Lita’s family had been fast-tracked up the waiting list to be transferred to a better state house, because of the rheumatic fever risk.

Although they’re now living in a different home, the move didn’t happen before Emma-Lita’s death.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the government’s policy to fast-track those at risk of rheumatic fever into better homes has helped 270 families.

As Radio NZ reported Coroner Brandt Shortland’s findings;

“In my view, the house unfortunately was unhealthy for this family.

I am of the view the condition of the house at the time being cold and damp during the winter months was a contributing factor to Emma-Lita’s health status.”

Housing NZ’s general manager of tenancy services, Kay Read,  accepted the likelihood of a link;

“Our responsibility is to provide warm, safe and dry housing and, from the reports in this situation, it appears that we’ve failed.”

The above Radio NZ story features photos of another Housing NZ property also in a delapidated condition, with mould and condensation streaming down the walls. The property is tenanted.

Interviewed on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘, Minister for Housing, Bill English,  denied that money was the core problem of run-down Housing NZ properties;

“They’ve done a very large scale programme – insulated every house that it can, which is 48,000 houses over the last four or five years.

It’s got to deal with the same limitations of process as everybody else, it’s got to get consents, it’s got to find a workforce, but it’s not short of money to do the job.”

English’s assurance that Housing NZ “not short of money to do the job” appears to be contradicted by Housing NZ’s  2013/14 Annual Report;

The responsive repairs programme, which includes work on vacant properties, is dependent on demand, which was higher than expected in 2013/14. Consequently, the budget was overspent due to higher volumes of work orders. The average cost per work order was also higher as a result of more comprehensive repairs and upgrades being carried out on vacant properties. To mitigate this overspend, we deliberately reduced the planned maintenance programme, which decreased the percentage of maintenance spend on planned activity. [p28]

Furthermore, on page 36 of the 2013/14 Annual Report, Repairs and Maintenance is given as $220 million for the period.

This is $1 billion less than the $1.2 billion quoted by Bill English to TVNZ’s Corin Dann on 24 March, this year.

Whilst clouded in waffle, English admitted that “the system” (ie; government and Housing NZ) was responsible for this little girl’s death;

“Regardless of the cause it’s a tragedy for this family. It appears that while the system worked to some extent, we’ve got to test whether it was responsive enough quickly enough to the very real needs of this family.

They didn’t really have the option of ordering a higher grade of insulation for the house.

We’ve got a strong focus on organising the government services around vulnerable families – and this is a vulnerable family – rather than expecting those vulnerable families to find their way around various government departments.

This type of case should illustrate I think to the people making public policy, including us, that we’ve got some way to go yet to be as responsive as we should be when there’s serious issues going on in this family.”

. English responds to criticism of state houses - radio nz - morning report - audio.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that New Zealanders have died for lack of adequate state funding of social services. For Minister Bill English, this is no doubt a matter of déjà vu, bringing back memories of late Northlander, Rau Williams, and late Southland farmer, Colin Morrison;

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Died waiting for by-pass - Otago Daily Times, 6 April  1998  (1)

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The 6 April 1998 ‘Otago Daily Times’ story stated;

Riverton dairy farmer Colin Morrison (42) has lost his race for a triple heart by-pass, dying of complications and leaving his widow, Christine, and his doctor blaming Health Minister Bill English and the health system for his death.

[…]

Mrs Morrison last night did not want to speak to Mr English, who is also her local MP. She said the minister and the health system had  failed her family and her husband.

“I don’t think I could cope. I know I can’t blame one person but I have got to have something or someone to blame. I wrote him a letter saying I blamed him [Mr English] but I blame the system as well”, she said.

His GP, Dr Russell Pridgeon, of Riverton, last night called on Mr English to resign, saying he held him morally responsible for Mr Morrison’s death.

A month later, then-Health Minister Bill English conceded that his government’s “booking system” was a failure – but not before others died on his watch as Health Minister;

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Bill English did not resign, though National were swept from office the following year by Helen Clark’s Labour-led coalition.

English is now Minister for Housing.

And once again, people are dying.

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Addendum1

The National government does not have money to spend on refurbishing state housing, but it does have money for other projects;

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Government accused of wasting $11.5 million on wealthy Saudi farmer

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Addendum2

The National government does not have money to spend on refurbishing state housing, but it does have money for other projects;

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Addendum3

The National government does not have money to spend on refurbishing state housing, but it does have money for other projects;

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References

Parliament: Hansards – Tax Cuts – Implementation

Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Parliament: Hansards – Housing, Affordable—Progress and Management of Housing New Zealand

Agrimoney.com: Dairy rout spurs $4bn cut to Fonterra milk payout

Hive News: Treasury re-crunching Budget numbers for low Fonterra payout

TV3 News: State housing sell-off worth $5B

Fairfax media: Slashed Fonterra payout will affect all NZers

Radio NZ: PM states housing intentions

Otago Daily Times: Fonterra cuts dairy payout forecast

Radio NZ: Tauranga, Invercargill state houses to be sold

Radio NZ: Budget 2015 – What you need to know

Fairfax media: International airfares will rise new departure tax

Radio NZ: Telecommunications tax will hit consumers

NZ Herald:  Secondary schools to slash spending

Radio NZ: Social bond system to target mental health

Parliament: Hansards – 5. Mental Health Services—Social Bonds

Investopedia.com:  Financial Instrument

NBR:  Roundtable and NZ Institute morph into new libertarian think tank

NZ Intiative: Social Impact Bonds

Government Economics Networks: The case for social bonds: A new way of financing and delivering social services

Fairfax media: Budget 2014 – The essential guide

Dominion Post: Women’s Refuge cuts may lead to waiting lists

NZ Herald: Govt funding cuts reduce rape crisis support hours

TV1 News: ‘Devastating news for vulnerable Kiwis’ – Relationships Aotearoa struggling to stay afloat

Fairfax media: Government may let Relationships Aotearoa fold

TV1 News: Relationships Aotearoa hanging on at ‘awful’ 11th hour

Radio NZ: Counselling service rejects claim it’s badly run

NZ Herald: Northland College students stuck with ‘worst classrooms in New Zealand’

Radio NZ: Northland ‘slum’ school fix-up very slow

TV1 News: English concerned by State House deferred maintenance bill

Radio NZ: Salvation Army won’t buy state houses

Fairfax media: Salvation Army says no to state houses

NZCity:  Girl’s death should spur action – Greens

Radio NZ: Damp state house linked to child death

Radio NZ: State housing criticism valid, says English

Housing NZ: 2013/14 Annual Report

Radio NZ: English responds to criticism of state houses (Alt. Link) (audio)

Dunedin Star: Death – the Northland Way

NZPA: English agrees system flawed

TV1 News:  Government accused of wasting $11.5 million on wealthy Saudi farmer

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Herald: John Key defends cost of flag referendums

Additional information

Mana News: Housing under neoliberalism

NBR: Matthew Hooton – Gulf games fail to deliver

NBR: Matthew Hooton – Flying sheep endanger McCully

NZ Herald: Bryce Edwards – Political roundup – The bizarre ‘bribery’ and flying sheep scandal

NZ Herald: Dita De Boni – Kiwis hoodwinked over state housing

Radio NZ: Demand increasing on schools to fund out classroom activities

Radio NZ: Government hikes up Housing NZ dividend almost 20 percent (audio)

Previous related blogposts

That was Then, this is Now #6

Budget 2013: petrol taxes

“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue”- Peter Dunne

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

The cupboard is bare, says Dear Leader

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73 Comments

  1. downwithnats says:

    Jk — a man with no substance pandering to the advance of class discrimination. His solution is to kill off the “lower classes” with neglect. He slithers away from any blame, with a plethora of pat responses, that the wannabe-well-off swallow whole, never feeling the hook. What a lying, greedy-arsed leader for the-1%.

  2. Mike the Lefty says:

    While dilapidated state schools wait years for the money to improve, Charter Schools only have to ask and the money is in their accounts before they even put down the phone. The government crows about how successful Charter Schools are. Truth is, any school with the right people and enough money can be a good successful school. But the National government wants its Charter Schools to look better than the state schools (with those nasty lefty teachers) so it starves the latter to enrich the former so it can produce the results it wants to see.

    • dangerousdave says:

      Public schools are not starved of cash. Public schools are funded on a decile system that is entirely transparent, as are Charter schools. All schools in NZ, public, private, charter or integrated, have the ability to hire great teachers, and all have enough money. The vast majority manage it well, a very small minority don’t.

      • Dave – On what do you base your claim that “All schools in NZ, public, private, charter or integrated, have the ability to hire great teachers, and all have enough money”. Because Northland College doesn’t.

        And judging by the amount of fund-raising and parental “donations” required to top-up other schools, it doesn’t seem likely that there is sufficient funding at all. Your term “starved for cash” seems abundantly appropriate.

        Meanwhile, privately-run Charter schools are receiving state subsidies, couresty of you and me, the tax-payer.

        • Dangerousdave says:

          Northland College had plenty of money, Frank. They just didn’t spend it wisely. And schools have fundraised for decades. Nothing new there.

          • Brian Smith says:

            No proof Dave-Ok, Gotcha!!

            • dangerousdave says:

              See below.

              • Brian Smith says:

                Just did but still-no evidence!! Keep making statements based on nothing but your love of Donkey and the National party. Who are trying to fool, Dave?

                • dangerousdave says:

                  Go to the website. They have 2.6m unspent. That’s the evidence.

                  • Priss says:

                    I tried it as well, Dave. I got the same response as Frank and I followed your directions meticulously.

                    • dangerousdave says:

                      When you get the message, select the tab titled ‘Budget Allocation’. It’s not rocket science.

                    • dangerousdave says:

                      Have you selected ‘submit’ after finding the correct school?

          • LilaR says:

            “And schools have fundraised for decades.” So what you’re saying is schools have been underfunded for decades. You’re right – nothing new there.

            • dangerousdave says:

              Perhaps. Or possibly we just have that age old problem of more demands on the public purse than money available.

              • Or, perhaps, Dave, the “age old problem of more demands on the public purse than money available” is caused by seven tax cuts since 1986, and less money for the State to spewnd on services. That results in higher user-pays charges and parental “donations” for their schools.

                That is the consequence of thirty years of reduced government revenue and expenditure. Something I wouldn’t be so eager to “crow” about, Dave.

                • dangerousdave says:

                  Perhaps. It’s always about choices. My view is the tax cuts over the past 7-8 years have been a critical component of NZ avoiding the worst of the recession. We have to strike a balance, and I think we do a reasonable job of avoiding the excesses of both ends of the economic and political spectrum.

      • Blake says:

        DangerousDave – If schools have enough money than why is it that they all, mostly, got rid of art and music rooms and classes ?
        Most schools are not working and most kids despise going to school. The education system has failed and needs major revamping. There are a few stellar teachers who understand the importance in encouraging creativity and confidence building and relationship/communication skills, but they are rare.

        Computer ed. and the 3 R’s , solely, do not make for a whole and healthy and happy student. They need more and they aren’t getting it in most schools. Underfunding is an issue, deny this all you want.
        Hekia Parata and the National govt. are mostly out of touch and not doing a great job for our students. Do we really need to build so many new schools or should our education spending and our whole education system be completely revamped and re-evaluated ?
        Then maybe kids will look forward to going to school and can feel that they are learning what is important and that they are valued instead of some numbered statistic that Hekia uses in her speeches.

        • dangerousdave says:

          “If schools have enough money than why is it that they all, mostly, got rid of art and music rooms and classes ?”

          Huh? Not at my childrens schools, both public and integrated. If anything our local public school has increased it’s investment in music classes.

          • Draco T Bastard says:

            Must be the exception to the rule.

            • dangerousdave says:

              I hope not, but I’ll be only too happy to proven wrong, when you present some evidence to the contrary.

              • Draco T Bastard says:

                I already have just here.

                But you, being a RWNJ, will ignore it as it goes against your beliefs.

                • dangerousdave says:

                  As I said before, an opinion piece based on a survey isn’t evidence.

                  • Priss says:

                    Dave, I think the evidence Draco posted is pretty convincing and your still ignoring it? Saying that an “opinion piece based on a survey isn’t evidence” ignores the survey itself and the outcomes.

                    You aren’t creating a very credible alternative point of view.

                    • dangerousdave says:

                      The problem is that the survey is opinion. It is not data. So you have an opinion piece based on opinion. But worse than that, did you read the cite? Can you point to any evidence from the cite that art and music rooms have been ‘mostly’ done away with? That, after all, was Draco’s claim.

      • Draco T Bastard says:

        Schools under pressure

        Every budget National trumpets putting more money into health and education. But the amount doesn’t keep up with population growth and inflation, so it amounts to cuts in real terms. Cuts have consequences:

        So, no, public schools don’t have enough money to do the job that we’re demanding of them.

  3. Blake says:

    Thanks Frank for this breakdown and historical information showing more mismanagement from this “out of touch !” government. Nice work.

    When equality and a healthy re-distribution of wealth and proper taxation and divesting are mute issues, then those in power, who are in bed with unethical corporations, will continue their ineffective plans and procedures. Profits are their priorities and then social programs and people suffer though they will deny this and continue their lies.

    People in need will continue to be marginalized and services will continue to be insufficient when our government places more importance on money and profits and sucking up to Big Oil and Big Agri-Biz and Big Pharmaceutical and TPPA etc. instead of what is best for all New Zealanders.
    A major and health producing shift in priorities is needed.

    It is truly sad and it is going on all over the world except in places like Iceland etc. We should learn instead of continuing with a leadership who is in denial and taking this country further into despair while it cuts off most good and ethical journalistic and media outlets.
    Thanks ! again to The Daily Blog, a gem in the dark abyss.

  4. Jay says:

    100% masterful summation Frank. I will return and read all of it sorry for the short attention span. Mike and downwithnats tell the core truth of it: The nats hate the welfare state like an anchor round their self glorifying necks dragging them under and down to the level of just ordinary kiwis. They see themselves as super finance capitalist men flying over untouched by the mean poor streets and suburbs below.

    • Jay says:

      The Cameron government and George Osborne are doing the same in the U$K but even more extreme: it’s called austerity: austerity for the poor and dependents on social dividend to protect the rich and increase their wealth even more.

      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/may/15/recessions-hurt-but-austerity-kills

      https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/10/chil-j10.html

      ” Of course there would be no need for austerity at all if the rich actually paid their taxes. I’m sure the bedroom tax will have a very damaging effect on those it directly affects (Stephanie Bottrill being an obvious example) and yet the £billions raised from cutting those benefits went directly into the pockets of the rich through tax cuts and therefore had no effect on the deficit whatsoever. “

  5. Draco T Bastard says:

    State assets such as housing and schools are suffering a lack of maintenance, the likes of which we have seen only in Third World nations.

    And the United States where infrastructure is also failing due to lack of funding which itself is due to tax cuts for the rich. The cause of lack of funding is that our taxes on the rich are far too low.

    • wild katipo says:

      The rich being defined as not only individuals but those who hide behind huge multinational corporate’s based in a plethora of country’s , who select tax havens to pay the minimum amount of tax whilst influencing govt policy to introduce measure’s that further impoverish and emaciate union award rates.

      In other words- third world sweat shop labour.

      And if they cant get labour in those third world places they introduce and influence govt policy to create those same conditions in the country where they have major holdings.

      We in New Zealand are a classic example of this criminality.

  6. wild katipo says:

    Well…its obvious one of the two parties are not telling the truth – either Housing NZ or Bill English.

    I would say English ……for several reasons.

    Firstly….Housing NZ ….being the dept that is tasked to carry out maintenance is restricted by an allocated budget . They have to operate within that – and as claimed – they had to reduce maintenance spending …not act out of any largess’e .

    Also ….the New Zealand Initiative – and I still call them the Business Roundtable – have always had a behind the scenes hand in the neo liberalism agenda. Their endorsement and lobbying for social bonds would be for them – par for the course.

    English – and he would not be unique – is simply taking orders . As have prior neo liberal politicians before him particularly in Finance Minister portfolios…there is no way they will upset the hand that feeds them.

    Now it does not strike me as at all strange that policy development using fiscal tools – and justification of that policy by using ‘budgetary restraints ‘ as a weapon to enact a desired outcome is beyond this group.

    A simple analysis of the figures demonstrates that by enabling tax cuts for those who hold the most political clout – ie : groups such as the Business Roundtable , those CEO’s who hold multinational corporate business positions et al…that conveniently policy can be constructed that will further the privatization process.

    And in doing so – softens the blow and blurs the lines for the public perception and consumption of what really is behind the motive – which is of course initially hidden behind cost /benefit analysis spreadsheets…

    It is only after several years have elapsed that the long term objective of these devious operators becomes clear – for those who are aware.

    Economists and political analysts loyal to not only that party but the neo liberal ideal will most certainly have crunched the numbers and seen that by placating the top echelons of society and rewarding them with tax cuts ……..would place downwards pressure on social policy using financial restraints and would be a convenient tool to use in advancing the privatization policy of social services.

    Those heads of govt dept’s may indeed be telling the truth about how their budgets were restrained but are complicit in not alerting the public as to the real reason AND the individuals responsible for those restraints in the first place.

    This…..lack of funding….this deficit ….wasn’t done because we as a country cannot afford such things…it was done deliberately to advance a particular objective.

    (After all – are we not supposed to be living in the ‘ rockstar economy ‘? – if so,… why do we need this constant cut back of social services and policy?….it is at this point that we start to smell a very , very large rat….)

    And that objective was carried out in line with the thrust of neo liberal ideology.

    The practical outcome was : social bonds – enabling the private sector to take over mental health , prisons , health ,education …areas that in a healthy democracy we pay our taxes for.

    Is the neo liberal rockstar economy such a failure that we can no longer afford these public services that we need the private sector to come suddenly swooping in to rescue us?

    We never needed them before…whats changed?

    And with these tax cuts for the rich – why did major areas of social policy suddenly have to change its budgetary restraints to suit their whims ? – the very demographic that LEAST needs such social services in the first place?

    And yet has the MOST to gain from tax cuts for them – AND the obliteration of social services and state financing through OUR taxes using the RUSE and excuse of dwindling tax revenue….

    When in fact – it was this very self same demographic that financed and lobbied this neo liberal govt in the first place (and they being in complete agreement ofc ….) – after having done prior analysis on the methodology and tactics on how to justify it by concocting confusing fiscal reports to be released for the general public consumption – using OUR MEDIA to do it , no less.

    It is sad to have to say it … but New Zealanders ….

    YOU HAVE BEEN CONNED !!!

    You have been conned by a bunch of viscous , evil , suit wearing little fucks who are quite happy to use the life of a small toddler in South Auckland – and many , many more examples of the same as a necessary expedience to advance their agenda.

    And to those who aspire to be just like them – with their heated swimming pools, their Jeeps, their helicopters ,their hobnobbing with and being seen with the ‘ right people ‘….I have but one question….

    Are you that lacking in self esteem or a sense of who your really are that you’d sacrifice that to become just like these sorts of monsters?

    Surely as a person you are worth more – FAR MORE – than that.

    • LilaR says:

      The term ‘neo liberal’ is a glaring example of a misnomer – neo liberalism is neither new nor liberal. What it is is plain old-fashioned toryism, but taken to an extreme that the likes of Winton Curchill would have abhorred.

  7. Andrewo says:

    “the likes of which we have seen only in Third World nations”

    Oh get a grip!

    I do work in the 3rd world and see what conditions are like – you really have no clue.

    • wild katipo says:

      And so…because of your working in third world country’s…is there a sense of martyrdom and over identification – a pride in boasting about how ‘you really are at the REAL coalface? ‘

      And yet….from those same organisations comes constantly the plaintiff cry of emotionalism ( and rightly so ) which is a lead in to asking for yet more donations and charity?

      Tell me…when those once former country’s have been gutted by neo liberalism….who will you appeal to next?

      In other words – before charity can begin for others overseas – wealth creation and resisting those who would further denigrate your means of funding has to be opposed or else your argument becomes quickly mooted.

      Or would you rather we all suffered the same fate as those of the third world to ease your conscience?

      Harsh ?…don’t think so.

      Just plain commonsense.

    • AndrewO – is that the sum total of your refutation of the information I’ve presented?

  8. Sean Hodges says:

    For two year old Emma-Lita Bourne, tenant of a State house in Otara, South Auckland, the situation is academic. She died last August living in an environment that was clearly not conducive for human health and well-being.

    A two year old has died in public housing under a Housing Minister’s watch. The requirements on the department limit the services they can offer and the maintenance they can deliver. Ultimate responsibility rests with the Minister. He is responsible. The buck stops with him. No one else.

    • wild katipo says:

      ‘ Ultimate responsibility rest with the Minister. He is responsible . The buck stops with him . No one else ‘

      Which is…………a rare occurrence today among the gutless, sniveling excuses for political leaders we have currently.

  9. mary_a says:

    Excellent analysis Frank.

    What was one of the promises NatzKey made when selling off our assets? That’s right, the funds raised from ‘MUM & DAD’ investors, will go towards improving public infrastructure and services, such as schools, public health, housing etc.

    In the meantime children die as the result of lack of state maintenance on housing. Children freeze and get ill, resulting from dilapidated and possibly dangerous school buildings! The latter was raised in Parliament by Northland MP Winston Peters, referring to the deteriorating condition of a college in his electorate. Of course, his challenge to government, was fobbed off!

    So I ask NatzKey where has the ‘improvement investment in infrastructure’ funds gone? Or should I say, who has been/is profiting from the theft of our assets? It certainly wasn’t Emma-Lita Bourne or school pupils in low decile schools!

    RIP little Emma-Lita.

    As informative as it is, Frank’s article here, makes for very grim reading!

  10. James Thrace says:

    Every time I read one of your articles, Frank, my disgust for the government plumbs new depths.

    I fear I am at the bottom of the well of disgust, but no, it just keeps getting deeper.

    What will it take for certain voters in this country to wake up from their soma induced stupor and start exhibiting some compassion?

    • Blake says:

      Coup ——- a sudden seizure of power
      Storm parliament in mass
      Set a date and time in two months and spread the word
      Set up meetings up and down both islands. Take back our country.
      Put sensible folks at the helm, good leaders and WE HAVE THEM ! !

      Sounds like the beginning of a good story that could be true
      if the will and fire in the guts were strong enough.
      We pay their salaries. Kick the crooks out. We have had more than a guts full.
      The People united are a strong force.

      • LilaR says:

        There’s a thing they traditionally do/did in India (I found the word in a dictionary while looking for something else, but I can’t recall what it was), which involves staff locking the boss into his office until he accedes to their demands. With a bit of careful research and planning, I reckon this could be done to the Beehive, preferably when all the MPs are there (which might mean waiting until the next budget, the next ‘Speech from the Throne’, etc.). Once they’re all barricaded in, representatives of the people could present their demands, and simply hold the MPs there until the demands are met.

  11. dangerousdave says:

    1. According to MOE reports, Northland College has around $2.6m in unspent property allocations. There is no shortage of cash.

    2. The roll at this school, once as high as 1,000, fell to around 250 in 2013.

    3. Northland College is funded on exactly the same basis as all other schools. I am not aware of any other schools with these problems.

    Northland College is a failed public school. This has nothing to do with tax cuts, payments to Rio Tinto, or any other of the matters you raise. This is purely and simply incompetence of management. And guess who picks up the tab?

    • “1. According to MOE reports, Northland College has around $2.6m in unspent property allocations. There is no shortage of cash.”

      Link please, Dave?

      As for the school roll being “around 250 in 2013” (it is actually 280 – http://www.tki.org.nz/Schools?school_number=9&schoolSearch=true), that should be irrelevant to the state of the school facility.

      3. Northland College is funded on exactly the same basis as all other schools. I am not aware of any other schools with these problems.

      That does not explain why the school has been in such a poor state since 2008, when an ERO report outlined it’s problems.

      This is purely and simply incompetence of management

      Again, that statement is unsupported by any facts, and certainly does not explain why it has been allowed to go on since 2008.

      • dangerousdave says:

        “(it is actually 280)”

        Not according to this:
        http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/northern-news/8584769/New-head-chosen

        “that should be irrelevant to the state of the school facility.”

        Indeed. But it isn’t, because a drop in roll from 1000 to 250 is another indicator of the incompetence of those running the school.

        “That does not explain why the school has been in such a poor state since 2008, when an ERO report outlined it’s problems.”

        I agree, which is more evidence of incompetence.

        “Again, that statement is unsupported by any facts,”

        Frank you’ve provided all the evidence.

        1. Rapid decline in roll.
        2. Adequate funding, with poor outcomes.

        • “(it is actually 280)”

          Not according to this:
          http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/northern-news/8584769/New-head-chosen/

          That reference is dated 24 April 2013 – over two years old.

          Indeed. But it isn’t, because a drop in roll from 1000 to 250 is another indicator of the incompetence of those running the school.

          Again, you have presented no evidence to back up that assertion.

          Frank you’ve provided all the evidence.

          1. Rapid decline in roll.
          2. Adequate funding, with poor outcomes.

          Again, that is your opinion only, unsubstantiated by any facts.

          The only “evidence” you showed us was a media story two years out of date.

          • dangerousdave says:

            “Again, you have presented no evidence to back up that assertion.”

            Are you suggesting a massive drop in rolls is NOT evidence of incompetence? What might it be then Frank?

            “Again, that is your opinion only, unsubstantiated by any facts.”

            These ARE facts. A rapid decline in rolls. Large amounts of unspent funding allocation, with buildings in, to quote your own words, third world conditions. These issues are not in dispute…you’ve stated them yourself.

            • Priss says:

              You haven’t presented evidence of “unspent money”, Dave, only a link that doesn’t work. Continuing to insist when it ain’t so, doesn’t prove anything.

              Give us the evidence, if you can. If the link isn’t up to scratch, take a screenshot and post it somewhere so we can all see it.

              Otherwise your credibility is nil.

          • dangerousdave says:

            “That reference is dated 24 April 2013 – over two years old. ”

            So? It quoted the data from the period we were discussing…2013. It is a contemporary cite to the events, and the number says 250.

            The TKI (your cite) is reliable, but it is only reliable for the date the data is presented to the MOE. The article I quoted supercedes that, because clearly the roll fell further, or fell prior to the TKI data.

            From 1000 to 250. Unbelievable. Public School too.

      • dangerousdave says:

        Ooops…forgot to answer this one…

        “Link please, Dave?”

        Yep, simple. The MOE has a website that records the budget allocations vs expenditure.

        The link is http://pmis.minedu.govt.nz/loginorg.aspx.
        Search for Northland College/School ID 9
        Click “Search’
        Select “Budget Allocation”

        The data shows NC has $2,675,349 unspent property allocation.

        This isn’t a lack of funding Frank. While I appreciate the depth of research in what you write, you’re banging the wrong drum on this one.

        • Tried it. Response:

          Welcome (Northland College, 9) (Select another school)

          Message of the Day

          10-Year Plans should no longer be downloaded from this site. Please contact the School Property Advisor for an updated Plan.

          There is still no evidence that Northland college has “$2,675,349 unspent property allocation”, or what it refers to.

          For all we know, that $2,675,349 might be “new money” designated for classroom rebuilds, and the money has yet to be released by the MoE;

          The head of the ministry’s Education Infrastructure Service, Kim Shannon, said it was working closely with the school and had provided $1.5 million for urgent works.

          (Source: http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11458136)

          That is why the property allocation might be “unspent”, as you put it.

          • dangerousdave says:

            “There is still no evidence that Northland college has “$2,675,349 unspent property allocation”, or what it refers to.”

            Yes, that’s what the website is for.

            “For all we know, that $2,675,349 might be “new money” designated for classroom rebuilds, and the money has yet to be released by the MoE;”

            No. Some of it goes back to 2007.

            Much of your post is well researched, but on this the MSM have not reported the whole story I’m afraid.

            (Sorry Frank, someone’s removing my posts, so I’m having to repeat myself).

            • Priss says:

              “Some of it goes back to 2007.”

              Dave, how do you know that? Does the website present that information? Or are you relaying some other information?

              It seems that you have some kind of vested interest in all this to keep banging on about it. Raw nerve? Support of Nact?

              • dangerousdave says:

                “Does the website present that information?”

                Yes. Look it up.

                “It seems that you have some kind of vested interest in all this to keep banging on about it.”

                Huh? This is a discussion forum isn’t it? I have no ‘vested interest’ other than I am a parent who cares about education.

    • Blake says:

      DangerousDave, are you working for the Dept. of Education and/or the National led govt. ? You seem to be in a lot of denial, shouting out facts that likely have no truthful backing. Most schools are failures and it is about many issues but underfunding is one of them. Many schools rolls are falling due to a piss poor education system that does not hear the students and does not offer what they need and want. We have spent far too long with an education system that creates little “yes” robots in neatly labeled boxes, who are out of touch with themselves and their uniqueness and creativity. Stop pointing the finger and see that we have failed and those Hekia Parata supported testing systems have failed miserably.

      Your Nat. led govt. spends money where it shouldn’t and does not fund what it should properly. We tax payers are presently stuck with a govt that is out of touch and failing us and failing the school systems all over the show. Kid are the victims and they deserve so much better.

      • dangerousdave says:

        ‘Most’ schools are not failures. Most are successes. But for the record, I have no association with the MOE or with any political party. My qualifications are a> I am a parent, b> I am not blinded by left wing ideology.

        • Draco T Bastard says:

          My qualifications are a> I am a parent,

          Ah, so you don’t actually know WTF you’re talking about.

          • dangerousdave says:

            Oh of course, I’m just a parent. Shame on me for having an opinion and presenting facts to back it up. This should be the sole domain of pointy headed academics who have never done an honest days work in the real world.

            • Draco T Bastard says:

              You haven’t presented any facts and being a parent isn’t a qualification. Also, your right-wing ideology is what blinds you. The Left tend to have their eyes open to the facts.

              And you’re attack of academics, who’ve probably worked harder than you ever have, is proof of your ideological blindness and outright stupidity.

              • dangerousdave says:

                Facts? That most schools are successes? Are you serious? Do you have children?

              • dangerousdave says:

                “And you’re attack of academics, who’ve probably worked harder than you ever have, is proof of your ideological blindness and outright stupidity.”

                Academics work very hard, but they are frequently removed from the real world. Note – the ‘real world’. Education is an area that has been particularly infected by their experimentation, the failed numeracy project being one recent example.

                • Priss says:

                  And yet Dave you’re reading and writing and are a product of our education system? You don’t seem to have done too badly out of it.

                  • dangerousdave says:

                    No, I’ve done well, thank you. But I was educated in a time when education philosophy was honed and refined by experience hardened professionals, not pointed heads.

                • Well, Dave you haven’t really presented much credible evidence for your claims except one report two years old and out of date.

                  There is probably a very good reason why Northland College has lost pupils, and rotting school buildings are probably top of the list.

                  I’m just not clear why you’re denying the information and trying to paint this as something it is not.

                  Especially as now another school has come forward; Clayton Park Primary School in Manurewa – https://www.facebook.com/nzherald.co.nz/videos/10152818780206302/?pnref=story#sthash.cx8U0mCw.dpuf (Thank you, Flynn)

                  • dangerousdave says:

                    Frank you seem to be in denial. It is a simple fact that NC have over $2.6m worth of unspent property allocation. Look it up! If NC have lost pupils because of rotting buildings, it is because of it’s own incompetence. It’s that simple.

  12. Kim dandy says:

    Complete incompetence since they got in power – that’s all I have say!

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      Not incompetence. This government has shown great skill in pulling the wool over peoples eyes about their true allegiance and goals.

  13. Brendon Harre says:

    Frank another two expenditure items other the the GFC and Canterbury earthquakes explain the government’s poor financial position.

    The Accommodation Supplement -I believe it has increased from $1.2 to $2.0 billion dollars a year. These payments going to landlords who are increasing rents faster than inflation.

    NZ Super payments being on track to increase from under $10 billion to over $15 billion during the National governments 9 year term.

    Both of these items Frank and your excellent historic analysis show National governs for a narrow band of true supporters and everyone else pays for it.

    John Key PM for Parnell!

    • LilaR says:

      What makes you think superannuitants are all right-wing Natz supporters? Because of my age, I know quite a lot of fellow superannuitants, and no one of them is Natz supporter. I can also attest that superannuation is far from generous given the cost of living. Any increase in superannuation costs will be due to the increase of older people as a proportion of the population, due to people living longer than they used to. So don’t complain about the increasing cost of super, and don’t try to claim we’re all a bunch of Natz – you’ll be old yourself one day and, unless you’re one of the wealthy right-wingers you’re complaining about, you’ll be glad of your super payments.
      P.S. I do think means testing is not a bad idea, provided the cut-off is set at a reasonable level.

  14. flynn says:

    The Northland school isn’t the only one; there’s a video up yesterday on the NZ Herald FB page about a school in Manurewa (the school has been trying to get new classrooms for years, and the MoE keeps blocking it).
    https://www.facebook.com/nzherald.co.nz/videos/10152818780206302/?pnref=story

    And that’s been going on for *years*, which makes you wonder how many more are out there? Going to the media is a pretty big step for a school; it would upset the ministry, and scare a lot of their families/potential families.

  15. Cassie says:

    Frank you are very thorough.

    You have dissected things thoroughly and

    YES !! SOMETHING INDEED VERY WRONG with THIS PICTURE!!!

    BUT!!

    DON”T LOSE SIGHT of

    the BIG PICTURE!

    I.E (That everybody has lost sight of/ is BLIND to):

    1 FACT :
    NZ GOVT borrows millions & millions$$$$$$$$$$

    Q :Where does this money go?

    It SURE isn’t spent for the benefit of Humanity!!!!!! (= PEOPLE)

    If it were, ALL NZ citizens would be Thriving.

    But they are not.
    They are worse off.

    (See the tell tale EVIDENCE & CONCLUSIONS of decades of BOGUS “ECONOMIC” SYSTEM by BRIAN BRUCE’s VERY revealing Documentaries on NZ.- In Case you haven’t lived it & seen for yourself)

    FAMILIES are WORSE OFF
    YET
    We are paying through the nose ..
    – for EVERYTHING…

    – MORE THAN EVER!!! (since 1970’s when NZ Families were FAR better off, & could live on ONE breadwinner)
    >>>>>>

    TODAY:

    =GST on Everything $$$$$

    TAXES on wages,$$$$$$
    COUNCIL FEES,$$$ everywhich way, PENALTIES $$$& FINES$$$ + INTEREST$$$
    GOVT FEES for Everything$$$ eg getting anything like Birth certificate or any info printed
    Statute “laws” – FINES$$$ & INTEREST$$$
    Police/”Justice” (=”Govt”)$$$$$$
    Even “Traffic” etc Fines$$$$$$$$ & INTEREST$$$$$$

    Social Services/ Social Needs >>
    FUNDRAISING:
    for Schools$$$$$
    -for Hospitals$$$$$
    ALL Education costs $$$$$$$$$
    -Necessary human services/ charities$$$$$$$

    Since “Privatisation” (ie Run as a business for Profit)…Essential services are costing MORE & MORE $$$$$$$$$$!!!!!

    ——-
    SO

    SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE!!!!!!!!!

    1)WHY are NZers paying for EVERYTHING- as well as working LONGER HOURS & FOR LESS PAY,
    WHILST

    Getting LESS THAN EVER back????
    * * * *

    2) WHAT are the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ being spent on,??

    if it is NOT
    benefiting People ie HUMANITY??????

    3) ASK THIS Q : WHAT is New Zealand Govt “BLACK BUDGET”, (secretly spent, NOT for public benefit ) in terms of $$$ ???

    4) How much INTEREST are NZ citizens being forced to pay??

    ON TOP OF MONEY BORROWED by ” NZ GOVT.Corp”- which is NOT EVEN being used for the WELLBEING OF HUMANITY????

  16. […] blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 June […]

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