The “free” market can’t even build a bloody hotel?!

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Our crisis in construction reaches tipping point

According to recent reports in the media, New Zealand is no longer able to build and complete major projects;

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

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Speaking to Radio NZ on 8 February,  Building Recruitment managing director, Kevin Everett, lamented our chronic shortage of skilled building staff;

“There’s astronomical demand, there’s shortages everywhere from skilled to semi-skilled, to labours. We just can’t get reliable people.

The feedback we’re getting for 2018 from our clients is that they’re all expecting a big year this year and that’s putting pressures on everyone because they just can’t get the manpower.

I’ve heard of people going in and getting 40, 50 people in one hit. We’re looking at doing a campaign just now to go across to the UK, so we’re going to go to London, Manchester, and Glasgow and try and bring people in. We’re looking for at least 100 people in all different skill sets, in residential and commercial.”

The $200 million Park Hyatt hotel project was first announced on 4 July 2016 as a j.v. (joint venture) between Hawkins Group and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the latter being one of the world’s largest construction companies;

In 2012, The Economist named CSCEC as the world’s biggest builder by revenue, then at US72.6 billion, ahead of China Railway Construction, China Railway Engineering and giant French builder Vinci which in 2003 had been the world’s biggest construction company.

Now, CSCEC has revenue of about US$100 billion.

The Economist article said Japanese builders had now disappeared from the world’s top 10 builders, overtaken by Chinese construction companies.

Fu Wah International Group itself is is a Chinese-owned multi-billion corporation. According to Forbes Fu Wah’s chairman, Chan Laiwa, ranked number 36 on the China Rich List and was worth an estimated  US$5.9 billion.  The hotel project is being built by a Chinese construction firm for it’s Chinese owners.

The Park Hyatt will be Fu Wah’s first project in New Zealand. The company has agreed to spend  an additional $2.5 million on  a public promenade, walkway and art display in the vicinity of the hotel.

In the Hawkins Construction 2016 press release Fu Wah New Zealand General Manager, Richard Aitken, said;

“Together with China Construction, they have the resources, experience and skills to deliver an outstanding outcome for Auckland.”

Panuku Development is a Auckland Council CCO responsible for the regeneration of eighteen hectares of Auckland Council-owned land in the Wynyard Quarter. This includes the Park Hyatt hotel construction site, which it apparently retains ownership ofPanuku Development’s  then-Chief Executive, John Dalzell, echoed the sentiment;

“This appointment by Fu Wah International Group is a testament to the quality of work Hawkins has delivered on a number of Wynyard Quarter projects to date.”

In September 2015, as the Park  Hyatt project gained resource consent, then-PM John Key was singing the “benefits” accruing to the region;

“ The new $200 million Park Hyatt in Auckland and the $35 million Sofitel in Wellington will create jobs during construction and when the hotels are up and running.”

Gambling with promises of jobs

The arrangement sounds remarkably similar to a deal in between the National government and SkyCity Casino. In 2012, SkyCity was granted approval for up to 500 new pokie machines in return for a $350 million international convention centre in downtown Auckland.

At the time, Key also touted the promise of 900-plus construction jobs from the the Skycity development. This optimistic promise  was quickly revealed to be another of his shonkey “loose connections with the truth”;

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By June 2016, the reality of the Skycity deal revealed at least a hundred jobs going to offshore to an American contractor in Thailand. National’s response? This was “how the free market operated“.

Increasing tourism and “more jobs” appear to be the two main reasons touted for the Park Hyatt project.

But even the prospect of more jobs has recently been questioned.

Earlier this month (8 February), concerns were voiced that two hundred extra  workers from  China would have to be brought in from China, to “help the 300 local staff already on site“. According to Building Recruitment managing director, Kevin Everett, New Zealand evidently lacks the prerequite skills to complete the Hyatt project;

“There’ll be a number of skills mainly around fine decorating including stone work, tiling, wallpapering, painting, veneer work – there’s quite a lot timber veneer within the hotel, so they’ll bring those skills to us.”

Which is remarkable, as New Zealand once built and completed vast construction projects such as the Clyde Dam with minimal foreign labour;

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Clyde Dam is the largest concrete gravity dam in New Zealand consisting of one million cubic metres of concrete. It's height is 100 metres, width at base is 70 metres, width at crest 10 metres and length at crest 490 metres.
Clyde Dam is the largest concrete gravity dam in New Zealand consisting of one million cubic metres of concrete. It’s height is 100 metres, width at base is 70 metres, width at crest 10 metres and length at crest 490 metres.

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Plans to bring in two hundred Chinese workers appears to be part of China’s long-term strategy to engage and strengthen their state-owned construction companies. As The Economist pointed out in October 2012;

China’s construction firms have become good at finishing big projects on time. But analysts doubt whether they are ready for rich countries. Julian Bu of Jefferies, an investment bank, says their main advantage – low labour costs – is little help in places where they cannot bring lots of Chinese workers over

So much for claims that the project would create more jobs.

Fu Wah even issued a veiled warning that the Hyatt project could face disruptions and delays if  Chinese workers were not allowed into the country immediatly.

At a time when unemployment is still at 122,000 (most likely that figure is an under-estimation as Stats NZ has a narrow definition of unemployment) and under-employment has increased;

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– it is difficult to understand why New Zealand continues to import labour from overseas. Suggestions from some on the Right that these 122,000 constitute a group “unwilling” to work is not credible when taking into account that the under-employed group has risen sharply by a massive 7,000.

The economy – a legacy from nine years of National’s indifference to job-training and thirtyfive years of neo-liberal free market “hands off” ideology – appears paralysed and unable to engage with unemployed and under-employed for re-training. The new Coalition government Minister for Workplace Relations and Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway, said as much on 8 February;

“We know that construction is a sector where the previous government failed to invest in the skills that New Zealanders need to participate in that sector, and there are significant shortages in the construction sector as we’re seeing a lot of infrastructure and a lot of construction being undertaken at the moment.”

It seems cheaper simply to import labour when needed, and return them to their home countries when that need has ended. That let’s businesses off the hook having to invest heavily in training local workers. It also increases labour exploitation by unscrupulous bosses.

The Property Council’s acting CEO, Matt Paterson, frankly admitted that foreign companies and labour could be used as a weapon to lowering prices (including wages), when he disclosed in July 2016;

“One of the issues holding back the development and construction market in New Zealand is high prices, so any additional competition we get is good. We do need to make sure competition is also bringing us quality and they’re not taking short cuts with materials or labour. Construction costs have been high in New Zealand for a long time. We need to develop a stronger, more competitive, capable construction sector. In the short term, there’s work that needs to be done and overseas firms can play a part in that. But we need to build stronger New Zealand industry.”

In the case of Fu Wah and the Hyatt hotel project, at least one construction company disclosed to Radio NZ that they had attempted to tender for the contract;

However an Auckland company, which did not want to be named for fear of losing out on future work, told RNZ they had voiced their interest at the start of the project in 2016.

A staff member said soon after Hawkins and China Construction were appointed as the main contractors, his company was contacted about what the programme of work would be and asked whether they would be able to do it.

“We went back and said ‘yes, everything’s fine, things are going to be a little bit tight here, things will be fine here’, but nothing major that would lead us to believe we’d been crossed off as a potential subcontractor.”

He said while it was emphasised that they should lock in subcontractors early because of a busy schedule to meet the deadline, it was never an issue of lack of skills.

“At that point in time we more or less had a year or two to lock in labour resource, to build up the labour teams that we have if necessary. But we heard nothing for a couple of years, in fact we never even heard back in the end on whether we could tender for the main package.”

When asked whether they had the staff to do the work now, he said they did.

There appear to be several aspects to this story – all inter-related;

Globalisation

The US’s economic model over the past 40 years has been predicated on a kind of globalisation that encourages low wages and outsourcing. The idea was that cheaper stuff would offset the loss of jobs and lower wages. But in an economy made up of 70 per cent consumer spending in which wages haven’t risen for most of the population since the 1990s, that maths stops working. “Globalisation can’t be just about outsourcing and low wages,” says [former General Electric CEO] [Jeff] Immelt (there’s an increasing body of research showing that low wages are a cause, rather than just a symptom, of the problems of globalisation).

In 2014, our own right-wing think-tank, the NZ Initiative (formerly Business Roundtable) said;

As technology improves, many of the unskilled jobs in advanced economies such as New Zealand will simply be replaced.

Even more pertinent, those unskilled jobs that can’t be replaced by technology are likely to be outsourced to those who can provide the cheapest labour, namely, developing countries.

Globalisation has already seen this effect occurring to a large extent.

Leaving labour to Market Supply & Demand

The free market sees unionised protection for workers as anathema to the concept of Supply and Demand for skilled, semi-skilled, and low-skilled workers.

During last year’s election, the supposedly “free market”  party, ACT, promised to increase teacher’s salaries – but with strings attached;

David Seymour is proposing to boost funding for schools – but only if they agree to take teachers out of collective pay agreements.

He said teachers had lost ground against the average wage over the past 30 years.

And Mr Seymour said the reason was a 1970s style pay system.

“The unions insist on paying the best teacher and the worst teacher in New Zealand exactly the same and often protecting under-performing teachers.

“What we’re saying is that we’ll raise teacher pay on average by $20k, but we won’t have that model anymore.”

The ACT Party education policy encourages “…schools to opt out of union contracts”. (Which seems to forget that teachers unions are already voluntary. People have a choice and can already opt-out of membership. Though the ACT Party espouses “personal freedom”, the word “choice” is strangely missing from their Principles statement.)

So what’s gone wrong?!

So if New Zealand has a free-market economy that according to one group is the third most open in the global economy – what’s gone wrong? Why do we have 126,000 unemployed and a further 108,700 under-employed when we have a skills shortage in the construction trade? (Note: Stats NZ’s definition of what constitutes an unemployed person is narrow and actual  numbers are most likely even higher than “official data” states.)

The Christchurch earthquakes of 4 September  2010 and 22 February  2011 damaged and destroyed large parts of the city.  In late 2011, the National-led government at the time was keenly aware that the cost of rebuilding was estimated to cost around NZ$13.5  billion. By 2014, Treasury increased that estimate to a jaw-dropping NZ$15.4 billion.

The need for skilled labour should have been obvious to all.

Obvious to everyone except the government at the time: the Key-led National government.

National’s “response” – an exercise in incompetence

National’s response to on-going problems in the construction industry can best be summed up in a March 2012 comment made by then Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee;

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Leaving citizens to the “tender mercies” of the free market seems National’s de fault setting.

Which had its inevitable conclusions as the Christchurch re-build is yet to be completed; the entire country is suffering a housing crisis; affordability worsens; and homelessness increases. Even retiring “baby-boomers” have not escaped our deepening housing crisis;

“We risk discovering that New Zealand is going to have a population of homeless pensioners,” Salvation Army spokeswoman Sue Hay told Radio New Zealand.

Compounding housing unaffordability and homelessness was a critical shortfall in skill tradespeople.

At a time when over a hundred thousand New Zealanders were out of work and under-employment was rising, National was practically sitting on it’s hands.

Post 2008 Global Financial Crisis, enrollments for ITO trainees fell dramatically;

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In 2013 – two years after the second Christchurch earthquake, Waikato Plumbing Services office administrator,Gayelene Woodcock, warned presciently of a looming critical shortage of skilled tradespeople;

“During the early 1990s the same thing happened. When there was a decline after the 1987 crash it didn’t actually affect the whole industry until the early 1990s.

The lack of apprentices taken on there showed through about four or five years later when there was an extreme shortage of tradesmen.”

Labour’s Grant Robertson could also see the rushing train bearing down on us;

“We have a shortage now in skilled tradesmen. It’s welcome that the Government worked out they need to do something but the impact of that skilled shortage is being seen at the moment. It’s being seen in Christchurch and it’s likely to be seen around the country.”

Report Card: F for Failed

We now have a shortage of tradespeople so critical that the viability of some  building projects’ is threatened.

Whatever tepid measures National implemented failed to address the growing problem. After the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, National had clear warning of the problems confronting the construction industry.

It chose to tinker with half-hearted solutions, but  these proved ineffectual seven year later as one media report after another highlighted the crisis.

One immediate solution has been to remove barriers such as tuition costs. The  Productivity Commission’s report appeared to reluctantly confirm this barrier;

There is some evidence that differences in subsidy, fee and student support arrangements can influence the study decisions of students (and employers). For example, members of the ITO sector expressed concern about these influences on decisions on undertaking industry training while in full-time employment through an ITP, PTE or ITO…

[…]

The University of Waikato submitted that fees combined with geographic distance may still represent a substantial barrier to obtaining a university education. In particular, it notes:

While parents with professional incomes and substantial net assets may not be concerned about their
children acquiring large amounts of debt to fund tertiary study, the poorest families with minimal net
assets will quite rationally be averse to their children acquiring large amounts of debt. (University of
Waikato, sub.93, p.6)

[…]

The evidence suggests that higher fees reduce demand, that students in non-university tertiary education and lower-income students are more price-sensitive, and that some minority groups may be more price-sensitive (Leslie & Brinkman, 1987; Heller,1997). Where the actual cost students will pay is not transparent,
because various grants or discounts apply that mean actual cost is lower than the advertised price, students from lower-income families are more likely to be discouraged. The availability of loans and allowances will offset this, although students from lower-income households may also be more debt-averse.

In plain english, low-income families were “debt averse” – a scenario which contradicts many right-wing reactionary prejudice which parrots the myth that poor families are in debt because they make “poor choices”. In this case, a student debt is a poor choice that such families will unsurprisingly seek to avoid.

The new Labour-led Coalition government – not fettered by the dead-weight of user-pays ideology to which National is chained to – has understand this simply reality and taken blindingly obvious steps to remove this barrier;

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It took National nine years to allow the current mess we now have in the construction industry. A mess whereby over a hundred thousand New Zealanders are unemployed whilst the building industry is seeking to import cheap, skilled labour from offshore.

It has taken the Coalition just over three months to begin to tackle National’s toxic legacy of mis-management.

Postscript1

In March 2017, Fu Wah  applied to build 330 apartments on the Auckland waterfront, adjacent to the Hyatt Park hotel.

At this stage it is unclear who will  provide the labour for this project. Familiar claims have been made that the proposed NZ$500 million apartment project would “create more jobs”.

Past evidence suggests those claims should be regarded with caution.

Postscript2

Globalisation continues to wreak havoc with our local industries As Fletcher Building announced on 25 February has it has pulled out of the Ormiston Town Centre building project. This is the latest in building projects that Fletchers has either withdrawn from, or will not be tendering for, as local companies find it  impossible to compete with low-priced offshore competitors.

Postscript3

Fletcher’s chairperson, Ralph Norris announced his resignation from the debt-ridden company on 14 February.

Norris was also chairperson of the Business Roundtable until September 2001. The Business Rountable (later re-branded as the so-called “NZ Initiative”) was a pro-free market lobby pressure group  that was instrumental in the neo-liberal “reforms” of the late 1980s and 1990s. Part of those neo-liberal reforms was globalisation: allowing offshore companies to bid for contracts in New Zealand alongside local industries.

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References

Radio  NZ:  200 Chinese tradies to complete Akl hotel

Hawkins:  Hawkins and China Construction JV signs up for Park Hyatt Auckland

NZ Herald:  World’s biggest builder arrives in NZ for $375m in contracts

Forbes:  Profile – Chan Laiwa & family

TVNZ News:  $200M luxury hotel under way in Auckland’s waterfront

Panuku Development Auckland: Home Page

NZ Institute of International Affairs: Speech to the NZIIA – 3 May 2015

Radio NZ:  300 apartments for Auckland waterfront

Financial Times: Why US big business listens to Bernie Sanders

Treasury: 2014 Budget –  Rebuilding Christchurch

Fairfax media: Christchurch rent crisis ‘best left to market’

Radio NZ:  Housing report paints ‘sobering picture’ of crisis

Fairfax media:  More NZ retirees will become homeless without action on housing – Salvation Army

Productivity Commission: Student characteristics and choices (pgs 41, 60, 73, 74)

TVNZ:  Shortage of skilled tradespeople exacerbating Auckland’s housing problem

BCITO:  Prime Minister encourages construction apprentices

Radio NZ:  Fletcher out of running on another big-ticket build

Noted:  Unfair overseas competition hurting NZ forestry, says industry leader

Fairfax media:  ‘Incompetence’ behind Fletcher Building’s woes, admits chairman Sir Ralph Norris

NZ Herald: Ralph Norris retires

Additional

NZ Herald:  Brian Gaynor – How to fix Fletcher Building

Fairfax media: Dearth of tradesmen foreseen

Other Blogs

The Standard:  Fonterra and Fletcher Building

Previous related blogposts

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies – ** UPDATE **

MSM catches up on Unemployment stats rort

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33 COMMENTS

  1. I was a policy wonk back in 2010 and spent a lot of time informing the government about a serious issue in Christchurch around a lack of housing. Then the earthquake hit and it was immediately a housing crisis. Despite a heap of renters suddenly losing their houses, the government was only inclined to help home owners.

    They certainly were not inclined to help the poor renter. The best they could do was a review of the accommodation supplement which did nothing about the fundamental problem of there being not enough houses to live in.

    Now there is a housing glut due to speculators, but there is still a housing crisis due to the old houses having gone. Beneficiaries simply cannot afford the rent on a new house.

    When it comes to housing (in general) and disaster management (in particular), the free market simply does not work.

  2. National all but axed apprenticeships in many of those industries in the 90s. They then shifted the costs and risks of at least part of the training onto potential apprentices who had to go a tertiary institution and take on a student loan to try and get an an apprenticeship. Employers in this country want all the benefits and none of the costs.

  3. For the business minded and from an accounting perspective it makes far more sense to import already trained and skilled labor from overseas.
    This saves the government vast amounts of spending it would otherwise need to make in the education sector for future tradies – better to keep the education sector for the middle class university students who’s parents will help them pay off big loans.
    The private sector construction companies have no interest in investing in apprentices or training as most of them put together the workforce they need through sub contractors.
    Imported labor is the logical next step after outsourcing and is an excellent way to reduce costs by deferring all of the needed investment in developing skilled labor to another country.
    Who pays the price? – Ultimately it will be the local workers who will experience downward pressure on what they can earn. The large construction companies, however, will do very well out of the arrangement.

    • “For the business minded and from an accounting perspective it makes far more sense to import already trained and skilled labor from overseas.”

      Except that it dosnt and its a foolish expensive stop gap that still has a high failure rate, involves extensive training and has quality issues…..Fletchers EQR is a prime example.
      It is simply another manifestation of the short termism that infects the contemporary culture.

    • Unfortunately, Peter, humans and society do not operate along accounting lines.

      It may make ” far more sense to import already trained and skilled labor from overseas” – but it does nothing for our own labourforce if they are shut out of the economic process and cannot buy products/services on offer.

      To repeat what I put above, when Rana Foroohar wrote last year for the Financial Times;

      The US’s economic model over the past 40 years has been predicated on a kind of globalisation that encourages low wages and outsourcing. The idea was that cheaper stuff would offset the loss of jobs and lower wages. But in an economy made up of 70 per cent consumer spending in which wages haven’t risen for most of the population since the 1990s, that maths stops working. “Globalisation can’t be just about outsourcing and low wages,” says [former General Electric CEO] [Jeff] Immelt (there’s an increasing body of research showing that low wages are a cause, rather than just a symptom, of the problems of globalisation).

      A disenfranchised, economically-powerless workforce will eventually rebel and the results become apparent when electoral aberrations such as “Brexit” and the election of Donald Trump occur.

      When people become frustrated with an established system they perceive as unresponsive to their needs, they have little to lose by thumbing their collective noses at said Establishment and voting for unorthodox “solutions”.

  4. Thank You Frank Macskasy !

    I am so grateful that you have thoroughly documented one of the most real issues in New Zealand. Namely. Building and Construction.

    The Capitalists have achieved absolutely nothing during their long time time in Parliament. Even National Party diehards acknowledge that.

    Because we have not trained youth in the skills of building and construction, we are like lemmings at the edge of a huge cliff.

    Key and English (what utterly stupid men !) brought hundreds of thousands of immigrants into our nation. But – built nothing for anybody.

    Just like they brought in tourists by the millions – and provided no toilets. For pete’s sake !

    Well Done Frank ! Lets put rugby, surfing, junk muisc and boozing away for a while – and do something worthwhile. Urgently !
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    • Yes we see all the immigrants John and co brought in to drive wages down and provide a cheap pool of labour for their rich mates at our weekly saturday market and many cant even speak English

    • Bankers like Ralph Norris, John Key, Bill English and Fay Richwhite do nothing with regards to adding value to an Economy, they do not have the practical life skills or ability to build businesses from scratch and add value to the Country.

      They are basically specialists in usary, reorganising and asset stripping, however the elites and suits which run the country and the economy view these people as demi gods and award them gongs placing them on even higher pedistools ?

      It is all one big game of Charades or Smoke & Mirrors ?

  5. Well researched and pertinent -as usual Frank.

    The phenomenon is not new, of course. American workers were unwilling to endure the shitty working conditions and poor wages involved in the construction of the railway that linked the west to the east, and all the difficult work through the mountains done by imported Chinese workers.

    If we go a further back, it was the inability of Europeans to endure tropical conditions of the American colonies that led to the establishment of the slave trade.

    The system will always look for the cheapest, most exploitive option.

  6. The old neo-liberal “free market” dream – to have an endless supply of cheap disposable labour ready at their beck and call to work whatever hours they want – with no minimum wages or conditions – and then kick them back onto the scrapheap when they have done what they want.
    That is what National was working towards, and Labour must not cave in to the same industrial bullies that would have it doing the same.

  7. There’s gonna be a benefit trickle down … thanks to Winston.
    Yep. He’s gonna give the addicted to gambling housed in stack and pack Chinese workers and their Penthouse living bosses an all weather race track. They can all gamble to their hearts content, the government will sweep up the profits and they’ll trickle it out to the NZ homeless car-living maybe if lucky tented unemployed.

  8. I take my hat off with due respect, Frank, an impressive collation of facts and relevant reports!

    This is why I warned all the over excited and also desperate commenters here before the new government was formed. I knew that the Nats have left the country in a TOTAL mess.

    To clean up this mess will be a massive task, costly and full of painful measures that need to be taken, much will prove to be unpopular, as it will mean people will also have to carry costs as those paying taxes and those having to cope while few improvements will be visible for many years.

    That can turn toxic for the new government, and in 2020 the voters may ‘punish’ the Labour led government for not having ‘solved’ and ‘mastered’ the challenges that arose due to the FAILURE by the National led government.

    Remember, voters, especially in NZ Aotearoa, have short memories.

    The system needs a radical overhaul, not tinkering around the edges. And no matter how popular a PM we may have, when her Ministers may not have the guts to confront the business sector, the NZ Initiative and the Property Council and others, and present them with a totally new framework for doing things, then we will have nothing but tinkering around the edges, and NO solution to this mess after all.

    Sadly most people are also not aware of the greater picture, the causes and effects, and the repeat of ‘Who Owns New Zealand?’, by Brian Bruce, a few days ago on TV3, should again have been a MUST WATCH. People are inundated with light hearted giggle ‘news’ and with consumerist driven advertising and brain washing. Only too few know what is really going on, and even fewer have the understanding, knowledge and skill set to actually plan new laws, systems and approaches, and to implement these, from the drawing board, legally, technically, economically and socially.

    So far NZ Inc is continuing to drive full steam ahead towards the abyss, in a car obsessed, petrol headed and blind folded madness that has infected the populace. RADICAL shifts are needed NOW, not in ten or fifteen or twenty years.

    The state must act, the state must plan and put in new guidelines in many areas, including residential construction.

    We do not actually need all such expensive projects like this Hyatt Hotel, which are in danger of becoming costly While Elephant projects, once the also addictive, highly volatile tourism business may show slowing.

    We need to develop other infrastructure, not such projects to cater for ever more rich tourists and high rolling gamblers at Sky City, not more airports and motorways and so on. Turn the wheel around now, Jacinda and others, or you may as well give up now.

  9. “Construction costs have been high in New Zealand for a long time”

    The cost of building materials has been high for a very long time. The quality of those materials has been mediocre, too. The speed of construction is poor – particularly now there is the move to metal framing, for example.

    The insistence on tradesMEN is noted. Although women can, and do, work as tradies, it can be hard. Apparently, unlike the average one loo home, they’d have to install a ‘ladies’ loo. At least, that’s one story.

    The old story about job creation: which department is specifically charged with actually following this one through and creating a database of actualities compared with hype and bait? It’s time that was done – and kept up to date. How else might we assess the claims made?

    If the private sector can’t/won’t provide in-depth training and upskilling for tradies then perhaps it needs to be returned to a government department or so: Corrections, forestry, railways, whoever gets to make inroads on overdue infrastructure work. An employer who can make payroll and doesn’t have to turn a profit to please ‘shareholders’. Also, an employer who can afford to stay up to date with technologies and methods.

    We’re losing edge every time we have to import people to do work without passing on the skills. They leave and we’re still unimproved.

    • Re Building Materials there have been cartels or oligopolies controlling the prices of building materials here in NZ all sanctioned and approved by the NZ Authorities.

  10. Why the surprise? No Zealand is not a sovereign nation, it is nothing more than a colony of the Chinese dictatorshiT. Honesty is a virtue, but nobody wants to hear the truth.

  11. We want people to work on building sites.
    We want people to do the menial work in rest homes.
    We want people to plant trees.
    We want people to drives trucks.

    Actually, we want lots of new workers in those jobs. I can see St Cuths, Christs College, Kings, St Kents and such schools ready to churn out the work force we need. Oh, we may even get some from the charter schools.

  12. Great post Frank
    Once again the facts back up what everyone knows deep down that the free market economy does not and will not work in our countries interest.
    Just leaving it to the ” Market “is not responsible economic policy.
    It is an excuse to do nothing , turn your back and walk away.

    • The free market economy has doubled Auckland’s house prices in the past 10 years, whereby rat’s nests go for $1.0 million in average suburbs ?

  13. It’s criminal that our welfare system allows tens of thousands of otherwise fit and able layabouts to sit on couches all day and take the tax payer provided benefit whilst there are labouring vacancies in several sectors of the economy.

    This is not why Micky Savage introduced the benefit!

    • Strange that, a single benefit does not even pay the rent for a room in many flats, I wonder why those people you call ‘layabouts’ are not getting attracted by the relatively good pay even a labouring job may offer in construction?

      Or are you suggesting they claim a benefit and run a tinnie house at the same time, or what?

      If I was fit and healthy, I would rather be working, mate, maybe those on benefits are not really that fit and healthy, or they have other issues, that keep them from not realising the potential.

      I know for a fact, that some employers are very picky, they do not like certain people with certain colours, hair cuts and clothing, and they often expect a perfect CV, so maybe a bit of discrimination is part of the issue also?

  14. What’s criminal is that our “rock star” economy cannot seem to generate sufficient paid jobs available to give everyone fulltime hours, even while it imports labour through (often temporary) migration. Many of the people on the benefit actually have jobs, but they still need a benefit because they can only find casual and part-time jobs.

    One major cause of this problem is that many people have been unable to access training so they have the skills the available jobs require, which is why we have been importing workers with construction trades skills, even while real unemployment (not the narrow slice measured by the new stats) remains at record highs. Just as well the new government is taking steps to bring back free education, so we can start to addressing this, although fixing the knock-on problems it’s caused over 30 years (homelessness crisis, mental health crisis, personal debt crisis, over-incarceration crisis etc) will take much more.

    • So true, they let industries off the hook, not training new apprentices and so forth, and when industry urgently wanted and needed workers, they were allowed to import them, under National.

      It is time to bring back some sense, and coherence, and expect local industries, in collaboration with government, to TRAIN local people, to get the skills needed. All else is globalisation gone mad and wrong, we may as well sell out totally, if we continue with this BS.

      • … ‘ It is time to bring back some sense, and coherence, and expect local industries, in collaboration with government, to TRAIN local people, to get the skills needed ‘ …

        So damn right !!!

      • Indeed, Marc. When I wrote this piece – https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/743/ – seven years ago, nowhere did I mention that tradespeople should be imported from overseas.

        The two-pronged rationale for a house-building programme was (a) to build houses for people who need them and (b) create jobs.

        The previous government perverted a housing scheme to create an artificial economic “boom” by mass migration which has created further problems along the road.

        And Simon Bridges has the gall (on ‘The Nation’ this morning) to call his party a “sound manager of the economy”!

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