Budget 2018: Tinkering with neo-liberalism

By   /   May 18, 2018  /   12 Comments

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“Transformation” is a politically expedient and specifically misleading term. Labour knows the expectations are high and by describing it as the first of three budgets which will “transform” New Zealand, Labour is offering future hope from a government which has no intention of any transformation outside the rigid confines of neo-liberalism.

No meaningful change between these two.

Labour is trying hard to present the budget as the beginning of a transformation. Here is how TVNZ reported it:

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Labour-led Government’s first Budget sets out the first steps in a plan for transformation of our economy, public services and the way we work together to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.

“Transformation” is a politically expedient and specifically misleading term. Labour knows the expectations are high and by describing it as the first of three budgets which will “transform” New Zealand, Labour is offering future hope from a government which has no intention of any transformation outside the rigid confines of neo-liberalism.

For this reason corporate New Zealand is relaxed. It is precisely the budget former Labour Finance Minister Michael Cullen would have delivered.

It seems the media have largely bought the story with TV3 describing it as a “good start” budget.

A start to what?

Two points illustrate the lack of planning for any transformation.

The funding to double the number of Labour inspectors sounds good but it’s off such a pathetic base this funding won’t make more than cosmetic changes in the enforcement of Labour laws.

The daily reporting of massive abuses of workers’ rights by employers, not just in family owned restaurants but in national corporate chains, means labour laws are bent and broken with impunity. Migrant labour is especially vulnerable to theft of wages and abuse of employment rights. Until we get serious about Labour inspectors and start jailing employers who rip-off workers we won’t see any “transformation” worth the name.

State housing is the second example. With 41,000 homeless in New Zealand the best Labour can promise is an extra 1600 state houses. But they can find $100 million for a billionaire’s yacht race.

Transformation? Give us a break.

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  1. Sam Sam says:

    Money chasing wage growth vs chasing earnings growth!

  2. Draco T Bastard says:

    With 41,000 homeless in New Zealand the best Labour can promise is an extra 1600 state houses.

    And how many Kiwibuild houses?

    And how do the government build an extra 10,000 houses in one year when the capacity simply isn’t there to do so? They need to build capacity first.

    I’m not a fan of Labour or NZFirst but there are very real physical restraints that need to be worked through. It’s not just a question of throwing money at it.

  3. Mjolnir says:

    That $100 million should have been spent on social housing. End of story. And no increases on military spending. Not until one single New Zealander remains homeless.

  4. countryboy says:

    @ John Minto. You ask;

    “A start to what?”

    Perhaps to an equally vacant ” Lets do this” ?

    Labour hasn’t cut the foreign banks out of NZ/AO’s skin.
    Labour hasn’t courted the farmer/Primary Industry. ( Not you, cowsploiters, sorry. You’ve just been fucked by rich boys. That is all. Oh, and you’ve fucked our clean water and soils too while managing to give actual farmers a bad name that’ll be readily used to beat them over the head with by every msm Natzo lackey in sheeps clothing playing head-fuck games both here and in other Blogs.)
    Labour hasn’t punched out one single Natzo on live TV.
    Labour hasn’t instigated a Royal Commission of Inquiry into why our large, rich country is broke with 41 K homeless, a P epidemic and more dysfunction than a talk show host, moron-baiter could wish for.
    Labour have yet to create a free-to-air TV station to tell us the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the Truth.
    Labour hasn’t evacuated the shit they’re full of.

    This is a link posted in ‘comments’ by @Wild Katipo. It should be broadcast morning and evening for the next two years.
    We must read it and let the horrible enormity of it sink in.
    No, truly. The contents of this link is dire and condemning of our high flyer, higher society types who drive past you and me in The Cities in their cars worth more than several houses in our primary industry hinterlands.
    Read it!
    Re read it!
    Spread it about. I’m fucking serious.

    Read. It. I know you’d rather have a cup of tea and pat the dog/cat combo, but no! You must read. Read! It!
    Big kudos to @ WIld Katipo.
    This is an extract from a short paper on the ideology that has changed New Zealanders’ lives
    Know the New Right. by Hugh Price

  5. Afewknowthetruth says:

    I have never expected Adern and company to deliver anything other than tinkering of neoliberalism. But thanks for highlighting their clear failure, John.

    Adern and company are there to protect and promote status quo policies founded on Ponzi banking and fossil fuel consumption, even as status quo policies are increasingly seen to be the major source of numerous aspects of our predicament.

    “Until you change the money system, nothing else can change.” – Mike Ruppert.


  6. mosa says:

    Labour- NZ First neo liberalisim – a process by which one figure, expression, or function is converted into another one of similar value.

    My old neighbour in Taieri Mouth just south of Dunedin with impeccable socialist credentials told me last year that we will never see another REAL-LABOUR government in this country again.
    The economic system and its enforcers will never allow it.
    The principled fight that Kiwis were famous for has been swept away in favour of comfort , easy credit at 12.9 % interest and exploding property wealth of which the banks still own and will still be the major shareholder should any ” correction ” take place.
    The banks and corporates will never be as vulnerable as the poor or middle class.
    That with our tech advances has changed the way we live and it has happened without many realising the massive shift in the control of our lives and our children’s right to not be exploited as a neo liberal economic refugee.
    Money and those that have it will never countenance any challenge to the current economic order.
    The accepted takeover is complete.

  7. Andrea says:

    The government can’t transform anything much – except itself (and that’s long overdue.)

    Just imagine all the homeless are housed. Then what?

    Just imagine all those low decile kids get the basics, including food, clothes, shoes. Then what?

    Just imagine we want need and crave new technologies to liberate us from offensive fuel bills. Then what…?

    C’mon Coalition Government TELL US! Then WHAT? Where’s this bus heading? How do we include the fractious and fearful opposers? MIA.

    How can innovators and business makers and other employers set their planning to take advantage of the policies and opportunities provided by the government – unless they’re told? How can government address the usual conservative, cautious concerned of thea sector, and the non-profit sector – unless they know where it’s all heading?

    And the rest of us, in our private ways – how do we make choices either for or differing if we don’t know what all this decency, equality etc blah and so is being set in place to do overall and longer term?

    Without vision the people perish. Or wander about getting up to expensive mischief and being a pest to their neighbours.

    Putting more money into health. Really? Hospitals aren’t ‘health’. GP visits aren’t ‘health’. (We clearly missed out on affordable dental and hearing and optical health. Darn!) And mental ‘health’ comes before the crash – not after. So we’re still into rationed access to advice for staying healthy. Same old.

    Money into education. Whoo!
    What sort of education? Does it cover a return to providing enough second chance education and night classes? Or are we still in the once in a lifetime only mode for educating and upskilling? – unless you can afford the hysterical prices attached to those very necessary educational needs.
    How stupid.
    Yes, look after the kids. And the people who who after them. No one is too old to learn and be a role model.

    Or too old to share the mission in mind.

  8. Eric The Viking says:

    You know you live in a democracy when you vote for change and actually get change ,any thing else is an illusion

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      John, labour failed here.

      ‘Underwhelming the public was the result,’- and I am sorry to see labour miss their one chance to “capture” the hearts and minds of us all in “their nuclear moment”.

      The only result they sent us was a deeply disappointing fizzer.

      The right wing ‘Neo-liberal’ inside Labour is sadly in charge of the purse strings and this may make labour loose the vote in 2020.

      A chance missed is one never gained labour!!!!!!!

      The climate and everything else for us we wished for will fail come 2020 i fear now.

      Our rial is about to fail and trucks will ruin our roads see what log trucks are doing here.

      we sent government the message today.

      Protecting our environment & health.
      In association with other Community Groups, NHTCF and all Government Agencies since 2001.
      Public COMMUNITY letter;
      19th May, 2018.

      Dear Ministers;
      Subject; “The forestry industry faces a rates hike to help pay for damage to roads”.

      Will Gisborne District Council & other councils also charge forestry for the damage to our roads also as the forestry needs to use rail to move their logs, not our rural and state roads or they should pay for the extra damage they cause?

      WE ADVOCATE THEY DO SO. -The forestry industry faces a rates hike to help pay for damage to roads.

      So we request you support this initiative also, and to take the part of the Gisborne rail still damaged and help to fund the repairs to the rail line damaged by forestry slash when it blocked drains in a rain storm on 23rd march 2012, so we can run the service to complete the connection of Gisborne by rail once more for their safety, health, wealth, and wellbeing.

      We await your acceptance.
      Founding members of the Gisborne Rail Action Group since 2009.
      Warmest regards,


      Whanganui council to rate forestry for its damage to roads
      18 May, 2018 3:00pm
      3 minutes to read

      The forestry industry faces a rates hike to help pay for damage to roads. Photo/ Bevan Conley

      By: Zaryd Wilson

      Zaryd Wilson is a reporter for the Wanganui Chronicle

      zaryd.wilson@wanganuichronicle.co.nz ZarydW

      Whanganui District Council’s proposal to make the forestry industry pay a bigger share of the damage it does to roads will go ahead with councillors voting 7-6 in favour of a targeted rate.
      It means from July council will collect a further $135,000 a year from forestry properties specifically to cover the cost of repairing damage caused by harvesting.

      The rate was approved as councillors debated submissions to its long term plan.
      Council’s finance general manager Mike Fermor said the damage to roads from forestry was expected to cost $12.2 million over the next decade with the council having to pay $4.8m.

      “Those costs have to be borne by somebody,” he said.
      Because forestry properties are worth less than land used for farming, it paid a lower roading rate which wasn’t in line with the damage is caused.

      Forestry properties will now pay an average of $681 per year towards damage related to harvesting while commercial properties will chip in $31, farming $23 and residential $2.
      Without the new rate commercial properties ($77) and farms ($58) would be paying more than forestry’s $16 per year for forestry related damage.

      “Yes it’s a high rates rise, we don’t deny that, but they are being subsidised and the farm and the commercial property is paying more than the forestry property if we do nothing today,” Fermor said.

      Council has looked at a range of option including charging by time and distance but none were legal or practical.
      “Are there some inequities for some properties? Yes.
      “This is probably the best option of the bad bunch of tools local government has.”

      The forestry rate had the backing of 53 per cent of submitters including Federated Farmers while the Whanganui Rural Community Board has pushed for it for years.

      Board chairman David Matthews said forestry property produced 530 tonne per hectare as opposed to pastoral farming’s 8-12 tonne per hectare.
      “For every load that comes off a pastoral farm, 50 come off forestry. That’s a fact.”
      But some councillors, including Rob Vinsen and Charlie Anderson, agreed with industry concerns that there had not been enough consultation.

      Vinsen wanted the rate delayed by a year while Anderson said he might have supported the rate if the industry had been more involved.
      “The thing that sticks with me is that the forestry companies acknowledge that they need to pay something but you had six or seven companies all sitting there singing from the same song sheet,” Anderson said.

      “These people need to be given the benefit of the doubt.”

      But councillor Alan Taylor, a former community board chairman, disputed the industry’s claims of a lack of consultation.

      He had been working on the issue for years and council’s intention was well documented.

      “If they want further consultation what can that be about except delaying the rate?
      “We’re offering them a pretty substantial discount now in acknowledgement of their input into the Whanganui economy.

      “It’s taken 13 years to get ot this table. Let’s not make it 14.”

      The rate passed 7-6 with councillors Taylor, Joblin, Craig, Baker-Hogan, Chandulal-Mackay, Duncan and McDouall in favour.
      The council also voted unanimously to works with the forestry industry to lobby central government for additional funding streams to offset the impact of forestry harvesting and to manage the impact on the district’s roading network to minimize costs.

  9. Marc says:

    The Budget was ‘well presented’, communication worked wonders for Grant and Jacinda, experts in great oratory and presentation.

    It was a minimalistic budget, really, delivering the bare minimum to keep things going, nothing more or less.

    No wonder some in education and health, certainly in welfare and housing areas, are disappointed.

    It could not have been delivered much better by Bill English, seeking support for re-election.

    This one was though designed, so that the business sector feels a bit safer, and that the middle class property owners and ‘professionals’ will be more accepting of the Labour and NZ First coalition, backed by the weak Greens.

    Any real carrots for the traditional Labour, NZ First and Greens voters will be delivered in Budget 2020, just in time for the next general election. It will also be so designed to get some support from the wider middle class, even the whiter suburbs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

    They are playing the same game as National did when in government.

    Sadly, with what we get, we will not address the massive challenges this country and its population face in the present and near future.

  10. Denny Paoa says:

    Hear, here! Well I’m hoping the next PM, Winston, whilst Jancindarella is on a break to give birth to her first kid, pulls a swifty! Advertises for a new coalition partner because he’s milked this one dry!

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Hehehehee…. Winnies a lot smarter than anyone of us dare to admit…

      Because when ( and he will ) he becomes PM ,… he will have ample time to put right a whole raft of wrongs that he took umbrage with all during the Bolger / Shipley / Richardson years, and indeed,- on every other limp sold out neo liberal govt since 1984.

      34 years of taking shit from all these unsavory characters, … however, we can calm down,… he will do it gracefully with a sense of humour and wont necessarily be rocking the boat.

      At least ,…too hard… at first ,…

      And I think this budget is a softly softly precursor to whats going to come when he is PM. He is not that foolish that he will be spooking the horses , – but he will giving them a few quiet wee messages in their ear about this being a NEW govt…

      It is a shame Jim Anderton hasn’t lived to see that moment… I’m sure he would’ve smiled and thought ”we gotcha at last ya lying bastards !”…

      The Right Honourable Winston Peters , Prime Minister of New Zealand.

      Got a nice ring to it , that does,..

      It really does.