GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Hunger is the measure of our Economy


GDP – Gross Domestic Product- is a figure politicians like to quote to tell you how wonderfully they are managing the economy, but it’s next to useless in that regard. A thief adds to GDP when he steals your car or your bike and you have to buy a new one.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says he’s working on a new measure of economic success.

I have one for him – bank percentage rates.

No.. not commercial banks.. FOOD banks.

In Canterbury the Central Mission report demand for food has gone up 44% since last year and they are expecting to hand out 45,000 food parcels by Christmas.

Auckland City Mission’s food parcel handout is up 22 per cent on last year and “the highest in their 98-year history.”

Work and Income say there has been about a 50 per cent increase in demand for food grants over the last two years.

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The reason? Robertson’s approach to running the nation’s economy is barely distinguishable from that of Bill English or Michael Cullen ….self-imposed austerity, an obsession with driving down public debt (which is already low compared to other OECD countries) while ignoring profiteering and our skyrocketing household debt..

And reading the interim report from his Tax Working Group, which argues against dropping GST on food and dithering over Capital gains, tells you Labour doesn’t plan to return to its roots and represent working people anytime soon. Instead they will continue to pander to Capital – the Money elite – whose interests have dominated our economic landscape for the last 30 years

Speaking of No GST on food – whatever happened to NZ First’s policy on that?

And the Greens? What happened to the policy of introducing “a comprehensive Capital Gains Tax on housing except the family home?

The mantra ” we can’t fix everything in one year everything that National got wrong over 9 years” is just nonsense.It’s 30 years of neoliberal economics and the politics of selfishness introduced by the 4th Labour government and continuing to the present day that is the problem.

Robertson is predicting a $5.5 Billion surplus this year which he is saving for ” a rainy day “. Such as the additional $22.5 million he has just granted to host the Americas Cup bringing the total to $136.5 million.

The rationale? Trickle Down theory – pander to the billionaires and somehow there will be more jobs and money for Aucklanders

Meanwhile, families are going hungry because food is expensive , rents are high, and the price of fuel has gone through the roof.


Because this government, like all the neoliberal government’s stretching back 3 decades before it to 1984 ,refuses to impose regulations on the marketplace.


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Spot on, once again, Bryan.

    The official systems are phony and the neoliberal ideology imposed on the populace is dysfunctional. Hence, everything that matters continues to be made worse.

  2. If they(the govt) spend they get condemned and if they don’t spend they get condemned either way there will always be people that want one or the other. Just fix the mess created from the last 9 years for starters it will take more than nine years to fix it as it started before the 9 years and has just got worse as national policies have exacerbated poverty and inequalities. And we all know they have form in this area remember the closing the gaps policy the gaps created under nationals mainstreaming policy remember Aunty Helen had to come to the rescue. Now we see more of the same old shit being rattled out.

  3. Shit, who would admit to liking deficit spending on a basic level anyway? even I understand that it has a very real use and is sometimes quite necessary. A government, let alone a Labour government, isn’t like a household. Too bad not enough of The Woke just don’t understand.

  4. Fabulous!
    Surgically precise. But perhaps I think that of your latest Post @ Bryan Bruce because I agree with you, which, of course, doesn’t necessarily make you, or me, correct.
    But fuck it! In this instance? Yes, it does. You are right. And I’m right for believing you’re right. And anyone else who would believe you’re right would be right to believe so.

    But what to do about it?
    When we have little, all-bought-and-paid-for wankers like this working for our public broadcaster ? What can we do? On a practical level?
    guyon espiner
    “Analysis – This assessment may surprise you coming from someone who spends his professional life criticising and critiquing politicians: Over the past 20 years we have been among the best governed countries in the world.”

    When our Prime Minister gives out peanut brittle to the media as a token of Christmas arse kissing, just out the door, there are wretched homeless people begging for a few coins from other equally wretched yet slightly $-better off who must scurry past and leave those less fortunate poor bastards in a wake of guilt.
    That’s fucked. In any language, that, is truly fucked. In NZ/AO ! For Christ’s sake and pardon the irony given the time of year! What have we been psychologically manipulated into becoming ! ?
    In a country bigger then the UK, richer than the UK in vital resources, but with a population of 4.7 million people yet we have homelessness, outrageous costs for our naturally ocuring resources…! As I write! My blood pressure rises and all I can do is come here and preach to the converted! God! It’s so frustrating! ! !
    P.S. For those of you who might mumble “ Yea but look at the fat on them bludgers queing for a free feed?”
    That’s because the cheapest food is poisonous junk. It’s sugar, fat and salt. Thus, the irony is that the poorest are the most obese, is that not correct Al Nisbet, you little prick.
    Great work @ Bryan Bruce.

  5. Labour needs to approach Marilyn Waring to act as an adviser; she produced a disturbing (then video) on how disastrous a single focus on GDP is to our wellbeing (our planet, our children and our animals).

    Pity the vhs hasn’t been put onto DVD. Found a short part of it on utube.

    1 videocassette (94 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
    Subtitle on cassette label: Marilyn Waring on sex, lies & global economics.
    Based on the book: If women counted / Marilyn Waring.
    Presented by the National Film Board of Canada ; directed and edited by Terre Nash ; produced by Kent Martin.
    A rich biography of ideas in which Marilyn Waring maps out an alternative economic vision while demystifying the language of economics. Suggested audience: secondary, general.
    System requirements
    Colour recording system: PAL.
    VHS. ‘

  6. Yup rent (local market price) and petrol (based the world market price).

    But if the 2018 budget had been National’s tax cuts rather than Labour’s families package it would be worse. But for the winter power bill income assistance it would have been worse.

    But for the annual increase in MW to $20, by April 2021, it would be worse. The $1.20 per hour MW increase to $17.70 from 1 April 2019, then two further $1 per hour increases (c40 per week).

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