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The Government v. The Business Community: Playing Chicken Over Employment Law Reform

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EVERY TIME the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance address the “Business Community” I wince. It’s painful to watch these two abase themselves in the way they do. As if their endless protestations of good will and their oft-repeated promise to “listen” will make the slightest difference. The Business Community is acutely aware that there is nothing with more potential to cause them harm than a left-wing government. If it cannot be tamed, then it must be broken.

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EVERY TIME the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance address the “Business Community” I wince. It’s painful to watch these two abase themselves in the way they do. As if their endless protestations of good will and their oft-repeated promise to “listen” will make the slightest difference. The Business Community is acutely aware that there is nothing with more potential to cause them harm than a left-wing government. If it cannot be tamed, then it must be broken.

At the moment the attention of the government’s business opponents is focused on its reaction to the evidence of plummeting business confidence. This is fast developing into a game of political and economic ‘chicken’. Both sides know they are being challenged. They also know that the longer they delay responding, the greater the risk of a tragic outcome. The Business Community is, however, convinced that, on the basis of its previous experience with left-wing governments, Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson will swerve first.

By “swerving” they mean backing away (if not actually backing down) from their proposed employment law reforms. The more intelligent members of the business community are only too aware of the head of steam that is building up in the workforce for a decisive shift in the power relationships prevailing in the workplace. Any reform that makes it easier for workers in the private sector to be organised into unions – let alone aggregated into the occupational collectivities of the pre-Employment Contracts Act era – has the potential to set off a wave of unionisation that could fundamentally disadvantage shareholders of all sizes.

Such a “revolution of rising expectations” has, however, been on the cards from the moment Jacinda began scattering her stardust hither and yon in the run-up to last year’s election. That stardust poses a huge problem for Labour. Without it, there was – and is – no possibility of the party winning anything like enough support to form a government. In deploying her politics of kindness, however, Jacinda has raised New Zealanders hopes and dreams to dangerous new heights.

New Zealanders are expecting the Labour-led government to usher-in real and positive changes in the way they live their lives. Failure to meet these expectations will, almost certainly, result in the fall of the Labour-NZF-Green Government.

Jacinda and her team know this. They may have bought themselves some time by setting up scores of working-groups and inquiries, but at some point before the 2020 general election they are going to have to start delivering real gains to the people who voted for them. Being seen to back away, albeit under fierce business pressure, from restoring a modicum of fairness to the workplace will be seen by many traditional Labour supporters (especially the present and former members of trade unions) as a betrayal.

And yet, as the wage campaigns of public sector workers (the only groups who have been able to retain a credible measure of union density) are rolled out and resolved in settlements involving double-figures, the restiveness of the largely un-unionised private sector workforce can only grow. The Business Community do not need to have the consequences of this restiveness spelled out for them. Employment law reform could quite easily result in an unprecedented and largely unorganised strike-wave sweeping across the country.

That’s enough to shake the confidence of even the most unflappable CEO.

Unfortunately, it is also more than enough to unsettle the nerves of a social-democratic government that would (to paraphrase the shrewd observation of an old trade unionist pal of mine) retain control of the losing side in an argument about employment law reform than lose control of the winning side.

In spite of its name, the last thing Labour wants is the New Zealand working-class taking matters into its own hands.

Those who have put their money on Jacinda and Grant swerving at the last minute have, if history is any guide, made a pretty safe bet.



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  1. Afewknowthetruth says:

    ‘The Business Community is acutely aware that there is nothing with more potential to cause them harm than a left-wing government.’

    Superficially that might seem to be the case. But in practice there is nothing with more potential to harm the Business Community than the business-as-usual they love so much.

    Business-as-usual means operating in a ‘shark pool’ in which everyone is out to do a deal at someone else’s expense.

    Business-as-usual means looting the commons till there is nothing left to loot. And polluting it till the cost of pollution becomes so high it cripples business.

    Yes, there is still a tiny window of opportunity for business to exploit the commons and exploit the populace before it all collapses.

    The really scary aspect is the prospect of disaster capitalism, which the business community will be all to keen to exploit after the crash.

    Despite the abundant evidence, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance still have not worked out that present economic arrangements have no long-term future because of energy restraints and accelerating environmental collapse, and so they continue to pander to short-term vested interest, at their peril and at everyone else’s peril.

    • Marc says:

      “Despite the abundant evidence, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance still have not worked out that present economic arrangements have no long-term future because of energy restraints and accelerating environmental collapse, and so they continue to pander to short-term vested interest, at their peril and at everyone else’s peril.”

      YOU have got it, few others have.

      Talk about banning one way plastic bags, while Countdown and Pak’n Save are already working on agendas to ‘adjust’ by bringing in ’emergency bags’, equally polluting repeated use plastic bags and doing stuff all to get rid of plastic packaging, it is all just frivolous BS.

      This government has only its own short term survival on mind, no long term plan for the country and people, and they run around like headless chickens, repeating like a mantra the same lines like ‘the economy is strong and stable’, and they hope for the best, but it does NOT look good.

      RADICAL change is needed, business needs clear and firm regulation, and if they cannot get it sorted, they better NOT be in ‘business’, as that means they remain unsustainable and not justified to exist.

      The environmental catastrophe is upon us, but despite of all the nice talk and discussions, I see most continue as usual, drive cars with combustion engines, pollute, buy one way crap, pollute and throw away as much as usual, to go into landfill, or quickly filling up plastic depots, as a one way stop, where NO recyclable solution is in sight.

      NZ Inc is a MASSIVE BS society, massively misled, misguided and having NO plan at all, and this government took over the helm with no real alternative plan at hands.

      It is a MASSIVE SHAMBLES what we face, and they will be voted out, to be replaced by a useless Nat government in 2020 that will go back to the way Key did things, highly irresponsibly, also with NO real plan for the future, but helping the few middle and upper middle class property owners feather their own nests.

      God, I hate this country, the way things are going.

  2. WILD KATIPO says:

    Doesn’t matter what this govt wants or the business community wants: the genie is now out of the bottle.

    You cannot keep plying the arsenic laced with sugar and expect people to keep coming back for more. That ‘head of steam’ you talk about will keep building now as people are rediscovering their strength in numbers and just what can be achieved by speaking up again. Any union rep that is seen to look like a toady will be sidelined. And as Mr Bradbury said in his recent post;

    [ ‘ More militant unions could set up and start poaching members who chose to quit and join those more prepared to fight for their conditions all the time rather than wait a decade. We haven’t seen new Unions form or poach members from each other for a long time, but social media could make that very easy to do ‘ ].

    He talks about the new ‘Industrial Relations laws’ becoming even more watered down,…

    Well , workers have seen it all before in this country around 3 decades ago with Ruth Richardsons ECA. They’ve seen the worst they could do,- they’ve also seen the miserable low wage poverty economy that came out of that and all the long line of apologists like Bill English. They’ve heard all the double talk about ‘catching up with Australia’ and then seen such talk just as quickly abandoned.

    Do govt’s and the business community really think they are so clever they can keep on spinning this B.S indefinitely before peoples patience runs out?

    What both of those are really up against is a revolt.

    A revolt against a slow , creeping type of permanent wage freeze that is periodically adjusted by miserable increments to mollify the resentment they know those policy’s have been causing all this time. And to add injury to insult , – those affected by those policy’s have also seen the obscene salary’s CEO’s have been awarding themselves for decades now in this country .

    And the inefficiency and incompetence of many of those same bludging CEO’s.

    Working for Family’s is now seen as a symptom of subsidization for business by many. Any top up needed because paying less than the cost of living wages simply means the cost is publicized not privatized, – thus becomes nothing more than an employer subsidy.

    Corporate welfare.

    Which further fuels the suspicion that there is something wrong and fragile about the neo liberal economical carrot that was dangled before the public all those decades ago. Essentially , – that it was all a colossal lie and con job.

    A con job because as has been clearly demonstrated for years ( 34 years to be exact ) that time and time again, – the only ones benefiting from this system were the already wealthy whilst wages ( and conditions) in real time for working people have declined massively.

    Combine that with a taxation system that means a worker pays proportionately more in tax to keep our groaning infrastructure afloat and the resentment grows even more over corporate welfare.

    We now have senior workers in many industry’s who are now earning less than they were when they first started out , – and sons and daughters who struggle to even pay the rent and eat properly on the wages that they do they earn. You CANNOT keep running a society like this and NOT expect a backlash sooner or later.

    That is just sheer wishful thinking and trying to put off the inevitable.

    Never mind what apologists like Hoskins, some RNZ / 1ZB commentators say: if they would not be willing to work for those appallingly low wages themselves , – then they cancel out their own arguments from the very start.

    This country has set itself up for a day of reckoning because of legalized and institutionalized greed. And that reckoning may or may not come under this govt , but come it will. Matters not who. If its National not Labour, this country is in for a shake up regardless.

    Much like the Treaty grievances, the working people of this country have many grievances that have been plastered over with a band-aid for decades by far too many elected officials. And that band aid is about to be ripped off brutally exposing the weeping hideous mess underneath.

    Perhaps its best the process starts now rather than later.

  3. There are a wide range of things that the Government could be doing to strengthen the economy.

    1) For all this claptrap about a knowledge economy surprisingly little gets invested into R&D

    2) There are big projects that could be carried out if we sat down with the energy sector and talk about the future of electricity and fuel supplies of the future, the infrastructure needed and who can built them. An untapped gold mine.

    3) What about the recovery of gold, silver, palladium from our a range of sources.

    All of these and others present opportunities to grow green practices.

  4. Leigh Matthews says:

    Business confidence crisis!!! shit , more like big business competency crisis, Fonterra, Fletchers, Ebert etc all run by the business elite with all their bells and whistles losing money with their incompetent management, maybe we should have a qualification to run a business

  5. WILD KATIPO says:

    Oh ,… here’s an interesting article in the NZ Herald today from the little man Hooten and his predictions:

    Matthew Hooton: ‘Worsening crisis of confidence’

    ‘The outlook risks being catastrophic not just to the thousands who will lose their jobs but also to the Government’s re-election hopes ‘.

    TRANSLATION : The Govts new Industrial Relations laws are scaring the shit out of groups like the NZ Initiative and so its time to pull out the old tried and true ‘if wages go up unemployment will increase ‘ line.

    ‘Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson have spent the week denying there is a crisis while also insisting it’s everyone else’s fault ‘ .

    TRANSLATION : At all costs we must not disclose the fact that tax cuts for the rich and the deliberate under-funding of infrastructure under National is why this govt struggles to allocate sufficient funding all at once to repair the nine year long austerity programs of National to achieve a budget surplus.

    ‘ They are right that business confidence has slipped globally because of Brexit and Donald Trump’s trade war, but that does not explain why things are so much worse in New Zealand ‘ .


    ‘ Business confidence is plunging, not just in absolute terms, but also relative to the rest of the world ‘ .

    TRANSLATION : Despite the fact that ‘absolute terms’ is an obscure piece of economic jargon , we will use that because it is so broad based and all encompassing that it enables us to argue from any bogus stand point we like and still sound credible. And although we are not at all like Venezuela we want to scare the living crap out of the population into thinking we are headed that way.

    ‘ Two years ago, New Zealand businesspeople were the second-most confident in the developed world ‘.

    TRANSLATION : And as any self respecting far right winger knows , – that was because of the fact that our great and glorious John Key was in power. Not only did our John teach the actors union a thing or two, he put all those pesky unions in their place and made sure workers didn’t ever try to rise above their stations. The low wage economy stayed intact, as did Johns tax havens. And if any of those uppity workers complained , – there was always the park bench for them and their family’s to sleep on.

    ‘Now they are the second-least confident, with pessimism as bad as during the Global Financial Crisis ‘.

    TRANSLATION : Johns gone.

    ‘True to form, the Beehive’s response has included smearing those who collect the data and participate in the surveys. Trade Minister David Parker has led that charge, saying the studies are “junk”, a “survey of the emotions” and “the vibe of a self-selected subset of CEOs”.

    TRANSLATION : That bastard Parker !!! He’s gone done called us all snowflakes with an agenda and showed us all up !!! Damn him !!!

    ‘Labour’s media surrogates have loyally argued it’s all just a tantrum about the colour of the new Government. But the Government is not “new”.

    TRANSLATION : Things have sure gone downhill since John Keys ‘Mr Fixit’ Stephen Joyce is no longer around,… after successfully getting rid of John Campbell and installing our own people in key positions in the media its just that much harder to label everyone who doesn’t agree with us as ‘screaming left wing conspiracy theorists’.

    ‘ It was elected nearly a year ago and business confidence did not sink to its current depths immediately ‘.

    TRANSLATION : Yet although by comparison to nine years of National being in power this govt is actually very new,- we cant admit that because of the lavish employer rights ( including landlords ) we enjoyed under National all that time. This has all changed. We are depressed. Sniff. And now unions look like they are being empowered. Sniff again.

    ‘ The real problem is that Ardern, Robertson and the rest of the Labour crew were either incapable, too lazy or too distracted to do any policy work during nine years in opposition ‘.

    TRANSLATION : We need to keep using any emotive trigger words to deflect and conceal the fact that we of the right lived high on the hog because in actual fact it was National that was incapable, lazy and far too distracted by the good life for them and their mates to do any policy work after nine years of incumbency.

    ‘ The Government’s 100-odd working groups are designed to fill that gap, but their combined effect is to leave every area of policy open to radical change but with no real indication of the nature of that change or when it might happen ‘.

    TRANSLATION : And with them doing that it leaves all us far right wingers completely in the dark as to how concoct a counter story once they have made their decision. They can undermine us anywhere, anyhow and anytime they choose! Damn them !!!

    ‘ We have no idea what taxes might be dreamed up by the Tax Working Group, let alone which will be implemented or at what rate ‘ .

    TRANSLATION : This can only mean one thing and a more than compelling reason for us to shit our pants ,- they are going to introduce a realistic corporate tax and lighten the load of the working person at the same time! Damn again!! The party’s over!!!

    ‘ The proposed independent Climate Change Commission means Parker and Nick Smith’s Emissions Trading Scheme might be replaced with something better or worse ‘.

    TRANSLATION : If its better the corporate’s will still make on the deal, if its worse , – they wont. Sniff.

    ‘It’s unclear if the Government will streamline the Resource Management Act processes or expand the Auckland urban boundary ‘ .

    TRANSLATION : Either way the chips are gonna be down for the landed gentry and the land bankers. Sniff.

    ‘ On water, some sort of tradeable rights scheme seems inevitable, with Māori taking some percentage as with the fishing quota. But the Government is unable to indicate when it will happen, how it will operate or what it might cost ‘.

    TRANSLATION : So there’s still time yet to sneak in a few more deals selling bottled water in China and buy that water for peanuts if we are quick enough.

    ‘ Consequently, farmers and growers don’t know if their access to water will be restricted or a charge introduced. Potential new entrants, including iwi, don’t know if they might get better or cheaper access. Neither can invest until the policy is resolved ‘.

    TRANSLATION : Now’s the time to invest in shares and take a punt.

    ‘ Similarly, no one knows what Jim Bolger’s Fair Pay Agreements working group will conclude, with fears it will be the biggest reversal in industrial relations since Bolger himself abolished compulsory unionism in 1983 ‘.

    TRANSLATION : That craven Benedict Arnold ! After all we and the Business Roundtable did for him ! Furnished his govt with bogus economic reports to facilitate our far right wing agenda’s, paid for slanted speakers to smear and discredit the unions, broke collective award rates and put em all on contracts instead…and he turns round and does this to us….

    ‘ Future immigration policy is unclear, despite its reduction being Winston Peter’s central political message for a quarter century. Almost every other important area of policy, including health and education, is equally up for grabs ‘.

    TRANSLATION : WHATEVER ,- JUST WHATEVER you do , – keep up prayers and offerings to the god of Mammon to ensure immigration settings stay as they do ! You know as I know that we need those mass resources of cheap labour to not only maintain us in our lavish lifestyles but to drive down those wages as far as we can get em !!

    ‘ Meanwhile, businesspeople are right to worry Shane Jones might suddenly turn up at your competitor’s operation with a big cheque from his $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund ‘ .

    TRANSLATION : Look , – we are known as believing in a ‘level playing field’, ‘competition driving down prices’ , but hey !- that’s just for the public’s consumption. The reality is our foreign owned monopoly’s are just fine as they are , thank you very much !!!

    ‘ After the oil and gas decision, there is no certainty internal coalition politics won’t mean your entire industry won’t suddenly be declared unwelcome ‘.

    TRANSLATION : We always knew this coalition had it in for all our foreign buyer mates of NZ’s assets but this is just going too far !!!

    ‘ Alongside its diversions and smears, the Government tried this week to launch a charm offensive, with Ardern and Parker’s “Trade for All” initiative and Robertson’s people pointing media to a speech he gave at SkyCity ‘.

    TRANSLATION : Damn that man ! , – exorcising the ghosts of our great and glorious leader John Key and the deals HE made at Sky City. What a cad !!!

    ‘The former is an Ardern special. A year-along “conversation” about what trade means to you, complete with yet another “advisory board”.

    TRANSLATION: THAT Woman ! , – leads a flagging Labour to victory , sides with Winston Peters, has a baby and STILL runs an incredibly popular govt. DAMN !

    ‘ Robertson’s speech was the usual precis of historic economic data combined with vague references to an Economic Plan, written in the style of a high school debating runner-up ‘.

    TRANSLATION : And that’s what gets me about Robertson,… that blasted ability he has to preface a problem, present a solution then be able to break it down so that even a high school debating runner -up can understand. We haven’t got a chance. Sniff.

    ‘ The Beehive PR machine needs to remember it’s communicating with investors and business leaders, not infants ‘.

    TRANSLATION : And despite the fact that many actually DO carry on like infants who wont share the toys in the sandpit , – we demand this govt listen to us or we WILL spit the dummy !!!.

    ‘ In fact, Robertson knows full well there is no plan. How could there be when absolutely any policy that counts, including even whether trade is a good thing, is to be left undetermined not just for weeks or months but, in some cases, for years? ‘.

    TRANSLATION: Aside from the fact that the rhetorical question on ‘whether trade is a good thing ‘ is as nebulous as my argument against the coalition at the moment, – and because it sounds all so high minded and philosophical , – I’ll leave that last line in because as we all know , – there is no crystal ball and I can sound as if I’m criticizing the govt when in actual fact I’m not saying anything of substance at all.

    • Darien Fenton says:

      Brilliant. Thanks

    • Wensleydale says:

      And columns like that explain why I can’t read the Herald anymore for fear of flying into an apoplectic rage. Hooten is as slippery as a greased weasel, and there’s no argument he can’t twist to serve his own deeply unpleasant ends. The ‘business confidence crisis’ is essentially a roomful of bitter old white men in suits muttering about how awful it is that the government is guiding the gravy train into a siding and will likely force them all to disembark. If the hyperbolic screeching was any louder, it’d rupture your eardrums.

  6. David Stone says:

    How come there is not a rush from the downtrodden workers of NZ to branch out and start up their own businesses ? And join the ranks of the wonderfully profitable and avaricious employers? They would not need to be so greedy. They could still show a handsome profit, and demonstrate how generous an employer can be and still succeed . Better than other employers because their workforce would be so grateful and happy.
    Come on Chris,Afewknowthetruth and Wildkatipo, Show us how it’s done.

    It is the finance industry that is screwing the community in 2018, employers and employed. Get with the times.
    D J S

    • David Stone says:

      I’m not that proud of this comment, because the trio above do all identify the neoliberal project as the underlying problem, but most employees in NZ work in quite small organisations that are local, and their employer is often as much a victim of this system as the employees.And part of the reason that union membership fell away when it was no longer compulsory is that the employees felt more empathy with their boss and their small organisation than they did (do) with a large bureaucratic union hierarchy.
      Unions function best when the employer is a monopoly.
      But reflecting on the article and comments , and going back on the DB history, it would be easy to gain the impression that the “left” are the employees in our world and the right they identify are the people who provide them with their employment. Is it as simple as that?
      With undoubted exceptions New Zealand employers are not the enemy of New Zealand workers. And to constantly present and refer to them as such supports a “divide and rule” paradigm .
      D J S

  7. CLEANGREEN says:

    “New Zealanders are expecting the Labour-led government to usher-in real and positive changes in the way they live their lives. Failure to meet these expectations will, almost certainly, result in the fall of the Labour-NZF-Green Government.

    Jacinda and her team know this. They may have bought themselves some time by setting up scores of working-groups and inquiries, but at some point before the 2020 general election they are going to have to start delivering real gains to the people who voted for them.”

    This coalition government must definately start to honour their promises to get our regional rail restored to service again like tjhey did here in 2016.


    Three parties say fix rail
    Published: November 3, 2016 11:05AM

    NZ First, Labour, Maori Party cite growth, jobs, safer roads

    BACK IN THE DAY: A Gisborne-bound freight train passes Blacks Beach at Opoutama during the heyday of rail traffic in and out of this district. Three political parties now support reopening the damaged Gisborne-Wairoa section of the line. File picture
    Leaders of two political parties — including the Government’s coalition partner — along with Labour’s shadow transport minister will be in Gisborne next week to speak about the benefits to East Coast Maori of reopening the Gisborne to Wairoa railway line.
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Labour Party transport spokeswoman Sue Moroney will address a rail forum to discuss progress towards the repair and reopening of the Gisborne-Wairoa section of the line.

    Forum co-organiser Ken Crispin said supporters are encouraged by positive statements from KiwiRail’s annual meeting last week.

    “It was reported that freight carried by rail in this last financial year represented a reduced heavy vehicle impact of 1.1 million road trips, with a reduced fuel input of 77 million litres. This has to be good for the economy as well as for the environment”, he said.

    Rail Action Group chairwoman Mary Manuel said the action group was furthering the campaign to reopen the line “on behalf of our iwi and the generations to come”.

    The forum will be on Monday at Te Tini o Porou Conference Centre, Kaiti from 9am to 5pm.

    Although the Government has said it would not be economically viable to reopen the line, Ms Fox says she believes reopening the line to Gisborne to be “crucial” for the region’s economy.

    “The Maori Party is an independent voice in Parliament and we do disagree with the National Party on many things. However where we can, we work alongside the Government to make gains for whanau. I am committed to supporting a stronger and healthier road and rail network on the East Coast. Since I came into Parliament in 2014, I’ve engaged with community groups and worked with the Minister of Transport to upgrade both road and rail across the East Coast.

    “It’s great to see the Napier-Wairoa line reopening and, while we’ve made gains in upgrading our roads, I want to see similar commitment to our rail line north of Wairoa. There are significant volumes of goods and materials produced on the East Coast which, in turn, provide jobs for our whanau. In order to grow the local economy for our whanau, we need a strong and diverse infrastructure to get goods to market. Investment in key rail lines such as the Napier-Gisborne line north of Wairoa is crucial to ensuring viable economic growth.”

    Expected increases in truck volumes over the next decade required significant funds to maintain road quality and road safety, Ms Fox said.

    “I want to see safer roads and healthy communities on the East Coast, and rail provides that alternative option. Given the state of State Highway 2 and the impact continuous heavy trucking will have on this road, I am of the view that this — combined with the potential jobs growth to come out of utilising both rail and road transport for getting logs from forest to port — is crucial for the future development on the East Coast.”

    The Napier-Gisborne line was mothballed at the end of 2012 after the line was badly damaged in the Beach Loop area by a storm earlier that year. KiwiRail and Napier Port intend to reopen the line between Napier and Wairoa next year. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Peters told The Gisborne Herald that KiwiRail’s plan to re-open the Napier-Wairoa rail line showed the National Government’s desire to “run down rail” was wrong.

    “KiwiRail has succumbed to pressure and with Napier Port will restore the line — but it’s a job half-done. Now KiwiRail must go to the next stage and reactivate the line between Wairoa and Eastland Port at Gisborne.”

    It had been known for a long time that huge volumes of logs would have to be taken out of Wairoa and that if the rail lines were not in use, this would present major problems on East Coast roads, he said.

    “Like all provincial roads, they are under strain from lack of funding. Washouts through flooding were just used as an excuse to mothball the Napier-Wairoa line and the Wairoa-Gisborne line. Work will now have to be done to upgrade the Napier-Wairoa line, which would not have been necessary had sanity prevailed and it had been kept in use.”

  8. sumsuch says:

    Compliments to the first 2 commenters, and not least Chris Trotter. In the compost of my mind — anaerobic I’m afraid — the fact there is no potential talker for this point of view in this government means it’s all over. Talking is what brought Labour to power and it wasn’t by respecting Power. What beautiful strong words that bruised the balls of those who knew the shortest distance between A and B but not anything up to a rubbish bin dipper’s insight into the medium of society they swam in.

  9. Mjolnir says:

    Make no mistake, we are at war. The appearance of so many alt.right activists arriving on our shores, with Brash as follow up, is no coincidence.

    • Duncan says:

      And so far the response of most left commentators appears to be “lets roll over and offer our bellies for a nice soothing scratch and the we can have a nice chat about it”.
      I cannot believe how depressingly dimwitted people have become that they cannot see exactly what is happening and work out where it is going.

  10. simonm says:

    Are you averse to plagiarism Chris, or do you believe that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery?

    I’d be asking Tracy for a cut if I was you:


  11. OCON says:


    The other major economic strategy that the government talks about frequently at the moment is ‘transforming and modernising the economy’. This is a fundamental objective of their ‘Future of Work’ initiative.

    At the same time, as your piece discusses, they want to to reintroduce employment law changes that will empower unions etc etc.

    These two strategies in their current form are incompatible.

    For a start the proposed employment law changes the government would like to introduce look to the past for inspiration and would return us a set of working practices that were common in the past. Ardern this week in parliament during question time stated that the employment law reforms the government wanted to introduce would take us back to the 1990’s. You imply in your piece an even earlier time in our economic history.

    Transforming the economy and the future of work initiative look to the future. There is enough evidence to suggest that successful economies in the future will need to be characterized by flexibility, change, adaption of technological advances and innovation and so on.

    Work place practices heavily influenced by 20th century employment law will serve only to frustrate moves to transform the economy into something that is match fit for the 21st Century and beyond.

    An example of this is the current interest in and adaptation of a new work practice known as “Agile”. Agile is a future work practice happening now. It is the future. Agile is about flexibility, about constantly adapting jobs and practices to meet its changing objectives, its about being innovative and so on. Potential features of Labour’s proposed employment law changes such as “occupational collectivities” that impose rigid demarcation between jobs and tasks would kill off initiatives such as Agile. The tension between companies introducing Agile and unions is evident at the minute – see the Trade Union movement’s defensiveness in relation to Spark and its adaption of Agile.

    My sense is that the government is out of its depth if it thinks it can introduce these two fundamentally different economic strategies more or less simultaneously in its first term. There is a major disconnect between the two. And, actually, I don’t get any sense that the government understands or realizes this.

    The solution, which Labour probably won’t want to implement is to put aside employment law changes until it has come up with a resilient Future of Work working model and to design its employment law changes so that they align with and support that model. This would include strategies to assist workers/employees to be able to participate fully and successfully in a transformed economy and to enjoy the benefits that flow from that.

  12. Marc says:

    Truth is, under Key and Nats, business and employers had to do little, the government, supported by them and their ample finance, did more or less what they could approve of. Minimum wage increases kept at a bare minimum per year, so called ‘inflation adjusted’, like the appalling social security benefit rates, which are too little to live off, and too much to decide, I had enough, I will end my life due to it.

    This is sophisticated propaganda that we get presented, these ‘surveys’. Of course the business leaders prefer it their way, the lazy business operator and employer way, getting cheap local labour that has to compete with ample immigrant labour.

    Any change is unwelcome, hence the damning reports.

    But this government is also facing the situation of being locked into a global business and regulatory network, that allows damned little space to move and to change from.

    Yet, with Trump doing what he does, this will change, we are heading to a new world order, where governments can do more as they so wish, the risk though is, upsetting the big players, e.g. USA, will lead to punishment, worse than any WTO rule may impose.

    So NZ Inc is stuck in between a rock and a hard place, it does not matter much who is in government, the true forces work behind the scenes and apply the pressures, as we witness.

    Government cooperates or will face being undermined and punished and driven out of office, with a rather complicit or dumb and lazy MSM.

    So prepare for the worst. We may get rid of one way plastic bags, have a temporary increase in minimum wage, and a humble restoration of workers’ rights, even a bit more spending on the public service and on hospitals, schools and so forth, but in the end, all this will not change much, as the reality will overtake what is being done.

    Inflation, depreciation of the NZ dollar, hurdles for exports to the US and some other places (China), and we are in DEEP trouble again.

    The banks, the money lenders, the large and not so large business lobbies they know this, they only care for ‘business as usual’ with less rules, no strings attached, and see to it that the Sleepy Hobbits get frightened enough to vote Nats in with a landslide, once the worries take over.

    As an Aucklander I consider this city is a disaster and screwed up, I think more or less the same of the whole country and society, a project that went wrong long ago, and is now near beyond repair.

  13. Philg says:

    Business runs NZ, and the mainstream media. That’s why Business Confidence is so important to the Government. Perception is reality. E. G. the Government backed down on a new public TV channel. Why? Because , doing so would’ve killed off the trashy commercial network. Think about it. Really disgraceful.

  14. Afewknowthetruth says:

    I don’t think it will make much difference what the government attempts to do at this late stage in the game. The fundamentals are so off track they cannot be corrected or even tweaked in the right direction, and a great global reset is imminent.

    If, by some ‘miracle’ (fraud) the central banks and government officials do manage to stave off an immediate crisis, all they end up doing is digging the broken-fundamentals hole a bit deeper, so the global crisis will be even worse when it does finally hit.

    ‘David Stockman warns that the global economy has reached an “epochal pivot”, a moment when the false prosperity created from $trillions in printed money by the world’s central banks lurches violently into reverse.

    There are few people alive who understand the global economy and its (mis)management better than David Stockman — former director of the OMB under President Reagan, former US Representative, best-selling author of The Great Deformation, and veteran financier — which is why his perspective is not to be dismissed lightly. He knows intimately how our political and financial systems work, as well as what their vulnerabilties are.
    And Stockman thinks the top for the current asset price bubble era is in — specifically, he thinks it hit its apex in January 2018. As this “Everything Bubble” prepares to burst, Stockman estimates the risk of economic crisis is as great, if not greater than, the 2008 Great Financial Crisis because of the radical and unsustainable monetary policy expansion the central banks have pursued over the past decade.

    This has caused the prices of stocks, bonds, real estate and most other assets to appreciate at rates that have no basis in the ongoing income/cash flow of the global economy. In short, they are wildly overvalued.’


    • David Stone says:

      This is more the problem. But it could well be a worse situation than Stockman is talking about…. This from Global Research..https://www.globalresearch.ca/depositors-not-taxpayers-will-take-the-hit-for-the-next-2008-crash-because-major-banks-may-use-the-bail-in-system/5649949 .
      However , if you read this, the article is addressing the unfairness of confiscating (stealing) everyone’s deposits to secure the position of the speculators on stocks etc but mainly on $550 Trillion of derivatives. Which can’t of corse be saved because they overwhelm any deposits in magnitude. This instead of more QE which leaves the taxpayer liable.
      But follow through the effect of no deposits. No one can access their savings. No one can borrow any more because the banks can’t lend and are closed. How long can our society continue when no one can be paid, no one can buy anything at the supermarket, no one can buy any fuel for the car to get out of town. No ships can sail because payment for the cargo has to be made before departure, the whole of society would stop in it’s tracks.
      If you imagine prolonged bank closure it is obvious that QE was the only way to avoid complete chaos , and the Dodd-Frank act will be abandoned within 12 hours if (when ) the same situation arises again. QE is the only remedy. But one day they might wake up to the fact that it has to be QE for the masses and let the derivative speculators incur the risk they pretend to be taking.
      D J S

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