GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – The Real Economy


When should we loosen the Covid-19 restrictions at our border That’s a big question so let’s ask a couple of slightly smaller ones.

Is your health more important than money?

My answer to that is Yes. You can’t have a lifestyle if you don’t have a life, so for me the border entry issue is primarily a public health decision.

In this regard I have great confidence in Dr Ashley Bloomfield to make the right call on our behalf and former Health Minister David Clark , in my view, has rightly paid the price for undermining his authority instead of publicly standing by him.

Yes, but what about the damage to our economy?

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Well, our pre-covid 19 economy was driven by a neoliberal approach to immigration, education and tourism .

High immigration meant a high demand for goods and services but it also put a strain on our housing market and helped push up house prices so that many of us earning our money in the domestic economy could not afford a place of our own.

The commodification of education by neoliberal economics has made money, especially the sums earned from overseas students, the driving motive behind the running of our universities ,whereas once they were places we funded for our own young people to learn, debate and examine ideas for free.

Why? Because we realized by doing so it would deliver things of long term value to our community and enrich our culture.

As for tourism – do you remember all those pre-covid news items about the damage to our environment and how DOC couldn’t cope with visitor numbers, lack of toilet facilities and freedom campers spoiling parking areas? As we reopen our borders to tourists again we need to do some better planning.

I think the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to look at the internal drivers of our own domestic economy and re-evaluate the external forces we have allowed to influence our way of life.

If you have a vested interest in the way things were in our pre-covid econoy I guess you are not going to be very happy with the ideas I have just expressed.

But like it or not the pre-covid economy has gone and as we consider opening our borders I think we should be opening our minds to the even larger question– What kind of Aotearoa/ New Zealand do we want and how can we use our domestic economy (and not overseas money and influences) to pay for it?

It’s with those thoughts in mind I’ll be considering the policies of the various political parties who want to occupy the treasury benches at the upcoming election.

How about you ?

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. Ever seen a cat infested with lice?
    I have. It’s not pretty. I found an old feral tom cat sitting in the middle of my bed on his last legs once when I was a kid. He barely moved as I stared agog at what I was looking at. A terrible seething mass of lice were all over him which spread out over my bedding.
    The moral of that story is too many parasites will kill the fattest cat.
    neoliberalism is nothing more than a system which enables para$ite$ to flourish and as a result you will see homelessness, poverty bedevilled working people and a country seething in debt which spreads like a parasite into every corner of our beautiful AO/NZ.
    And we should pause to ponder that it’s those same parasites who’ve infested our primary industry ( where the sweetest blood is ) and have gone on to parasitise our finances and our politics.
    I’ve just come back from Queenstown. Where egos go to bash each other with their penises. Schist wankery meets rough woods.
    Go to Jacks Point? Watch the lice will run for it from the old dying tom cat.

    • neoliberalism is nothing more than a system which enables para$ite$ to flourish and as a result you will see homelessness, poverty bedevilled working people and a country seething in debt which spreads like a parasite into every corner of our beautiful AO/NZ.

      That’s capitalism. Not just the neo-liberal form of it but all capitalism. And its destroyed civilisations going back thousands of years:

      These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.”

      Capitalism is there just to justify the bludging of the rich on the poor. After so many thousands of years its time we woke up to the fact that we’re being ripped off.

  2. Neoliberals and the media still braying for more workers to keep their visas/immigration Ponzi fees going, because apparently the 5 million already in NZ including 300,000+ migrant workers are still here and have no jobs maybe cos they are all so lazy and drugged out they don’t want to work, rather than the shortage of work everywhere. Sarcasm.

    Headaches for wine industry’s 2021 harvest as Covid-19 keeps skilled foreign workforce out
    (Here’s a hint, bother training local people in NZ’s large and growing wine industry, but you many have to pay them appropriately!)

    Coronavirus: 40% of bars, cafes could close due to skills shortage — expert
    expert is “Hospitality recruitment company Barcats” – (more quality journalism).–expert

    The reality many are out of work and on government wage subsidies!

    Covid 19 coronavirus: Treasury says unemployment could hit ‘double digits’ as Covid-19 hammers NZ

    Why is the left so concerned about current tax payers paying more taxes while supporting cash workers ballooning everywhere in NZ….

    “Chinese bricklayer Mao Qunyou had been working cash jobs on-and-off in Auckland since his two-year contract ended with a previous employer late last year.

    He said it was hard to find a stable job, which meant when Covid-19 shut most businesses down, he was not entitled to claim the government’s wage subsidy.

    He said he was still owed money for cash jobs before the lockdown and hadn’t had an income for weeks.”

    While I have some sympathy for his family, it also seems they managed to get a free hold house with a painting business which was most likely obtained with cash payments as they were not legally allowed to work in NZ, but still wants to stay in NZ. Funny how everyone else who don’t pay IRD are prosecuted, but if you are a migrant you don’t have to pay the money back in reparations even if you have a freehold house. Cash businesses with cash labour are forcing the businesses out of business as how do compete with illegal cash labour being championed in NZ constantly?

    Another sad tale of another migrant who died on the job working as an illegal labourer. Again makes it a double standard that local employers pay work safe fines and ACC, but zero interest in any prosecutions for this death and prosecuting all those involved in getting this worker to NZ… Again the message is that cash migrant labour is untouchable in NZ and you will get ACC even if you don’t pay any taxes in NZ.

    Perhaps part of the problem in NZ is that people don’t want to work low low wage jobs when they can get cash work instead apart from if they need it for a few years to buy NZ Permanent residency!

    Meanwhile far from migrants wanting to come to NZ as the media is currently braying, most have no paid work and many want to leave NZ!

    Seasonal workers stuck in Hawke’s Bay are suffering from depression and anxiety because they don’t know when they can return home.

    • Funny how everyone else who don’t pay IRD are prosecuted, but if you are a migrant you don’t have to pay the money back in reparations even if you have a freehold house.

      That guy needs to have all of his assets confiscated now (they’re all obviously the result of crime) and be deported and made persona non grata.

  3. More population causes the following;
    increased spread of diseases.
    more crime.
    more pollution.
    more commodity price increases.
    more cost to maintain our infrastructure of the following;
    water storage.
    public tourist places.
    communication services.
    electricity grid.

    NZ cannot afford such increased costs as we are now facing.

  4. My full support for your analysis of Education funding. We used to fund a world class system all by ourselves. But after the folly of the neo-liberal crap of the 80s and 90s, our secondary schools, universities, etc, all were tricked into prostituting their educational function so as to attract extra funding by actively advertising their ‘services’ to foreign students.
    Basically, we rip those foreign students off. We charge them far more than the cost of what we give them. Now we have become dependent on their funding, and our own scurrilous governments have successively used this as a way of cutting the resources NZ puts into education.
    Neo-Liberal morons will ask, “What is wrong with that, if they are willing to pay?”
    My answer is that it creates a sick, corrupted system, (Assessment scandals.., lowered standards, etc) and this pandemic has now shown up another failure.
    Foreign students are a low, dishonest way of funding an Education system.

    • In Vino, Still thinking that the foreign students flocking to NZ is for the education????

      Rubbish for the most part the majority of foreign students are here to buy a degree to obtain NZ residency where they can pick up millions of dollars in benefits for the entire family based on one residency visa now being able to piggy back in love interests, children, relatives and aged parents.

      Bright foreign students don’t come to NZ to get a masters degree they go to a status university in the USA or UK where they get a ‘real’ degree that is worth something and go onto a ‘real’ job…

      The path in NZ is very different, we get hundreds of thousands of foreign students to come to receive no name business masters or basic health care/IT ‘masters’, going onto a retail career followed by quick residency… after getting PR/citzenship they can qualify for benefits…. and their family can piggyback into NZ as soon as they obtain a student visa.

      “Brar arrived in New Zealand from the Punjab on 13 November 2010, less than a month after his 18th birthday. He enrolled in a management diploma at ICL Graduate Business School, during a period of huge growth for the private tertiary sector. The main attraction was what came with the education: the opportunity to work while studying, and a path to residency on the other side.

      As with any good salesperson, he was his most important product, and he regularly traded employers as better offers came along: from Salmat he moved to a Vodafone store, then to the Layaway Depot, then briefly to KiwiOwn. (Both the latter have been investigated, fined or otherwise censured by the Commerce Commission for their sales tactics.)

      Brar had one singular objective through all this: New Zealand residency. To become eligible he needed to tick a number of boxes, including English proficiency, a tertiary qualification, and a level of income – as well as a managerial title. So when his former boss at Layaway Depot contacted him to ask why he’d left, he levelled with him about what he needed for his ultimate goal. By the week’s end Brar was a store manager at Layaway Depot Otāhuhu.

      “I applied for my residency and I got my residency sorted in three months.”

      “One day he pulled into work when he saw a friend outside the office. The friend told him he’d just passed his driver licensing test, and Brar congratulated him on the achievement.

      “Bro, do you know it’s so easy to get a licence here?” his friend asked. “I paid $80 to the testing officer and he just gave me a licence – even though I did so many mistakes.”

      The scheme Brar had stumbled upon was run by Kumar and Feroz, who would pass those who had failed their tests in exchange for bribes. The pair suggested Brar join them as a sales funnel. Brar says he agonised, but was eventually persuaded. “I know it was my fault. I should not have been convinced, I should not have got involved,” he says. “It was the biggest mistake of my life.”

      It was a mistake that made him a lot of money. In less than two years he received over $56,000 into his bank accounts, spread over 107 transactions. He says the amount he retained was less, but it’s also true that many applicants paid in cash. Police are still unsure of either the total number of licences issued, or the amount of money the scheme netted those involved, but a police source close to the investigation believes it was likely more than $100,000.”

      Making money in NZ is no longer off the back of a decent degree and education in this country!

      That is why we continue to have skills shortages and dysfunctional industry in this country and why the cost of living is so high and apparently so few people officially earn over $100k – well a taxed $100k is more like it, as is appears there are plenty of people in NZ earning big money under the table and through crime….

      • I agree the part you have mentioned about Love Brar and his fraud. But the pathway to residency was offered by NZ Govt through Study. I also came to NZ on Student visa and study for 3 years. I paid $40,000 for my Study and have been in NZ for 8 years now. i don’t make $100k a year. Govt made millions through education every year and still do.

        you forgot to mention people coming from pacific islands to NZ and settling and going straight to benifits and housing from Winz.

    • Also creating a culture of smart local scholarship students LEAVING NZ to get a decent degree overseas…

      After the brain drain hollowing out our employment industries

      Statistics New Zealand no longer measuring ‘brain drain’ to Australia

      Q, What country wants to hollow our our formally well regarded tertiary education sector?

      A, NZ liberals who employ woke/right wing mostly overseas vice chancellors to oversee their vision to turn our education sector into a ponzi paid for degree toilet, that within a few years will repel legitimate students as it will be full of thick morally repugnant students buying residency to get a NZ passport and their relatives into the country…

  5. I agree that Covid should be an opportunity for reflection, but I don’t think our current political system actually permits it. Any sign of reflection is wont to be pounced on by the (insert your own expletive) clickbaiting press. Admitting they were wrong is something none of the main neoliberals has ever done. Short of disruptive change, we’re stuck with the BAU, until the rising tide of anthropogenic global warming washes us all away.

    • Global warming triggered by anthropogenic folly will not be the only rising tide.

      There is no way back but a small future generation may get a change to struggle for a little longer is we abandon BAU right now and restructure to meet basic needs only as well as reduce population.

  6. The so called education industry is a scam. As has been already noted. It’s also a disaster for future generations. It destabilizes the economy and will quicken the call to raise the Super age to 70, or similar.

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