4% unemployment – the case for keeping the borders shut


ANZ and BNZ tip official cash rate to hit 1% by year-end after record drop in unemployment

The unemployment rate has plummeted to 4 per cent, putting more pressure on the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates in a fortnight’s time.

Statistics NZ said the number of people who were unemployed in the three months to the end of June fell by 17,000, or 12.4 per cent over the quarter, which was a record drop in percentage terms since it began its survey in 1986.

Bank economists had been expecting a significant but smaller drop in the unemployment rate, from 4.7 per cent in the March quarter to 4.4 per cent.

ANZ and BNZ are now forecasting the official cash rate will rise to 1 per cent by the end of the year, with BNZ research head Stephen Toplis describing the unemployment data as a “stonker”.

Why aren’t we talking about the benefits of keeping the borders closed?

  • No hyper tourism
  • Near full employment
  • Higher wages
  • Less migrant exploitation

Imagine how much worse the housing crisis would be with pre-Covid tourism?

If we accept that Covid will require annual injections, that mutations will continue to threaten and acknowledge our supply chains will be marred by lockdowns in poorer countries over time by the virus – then why are we hurrying to open the borders?

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Add to this the increase in climate extremes that will drive migration, shouldn’t we be keeping the borders shut rather than open?

Many of the free market neoliberal cows are being slaughtered, why try and resurrect them?

The foundations of the 40 year neoliberal experiment in NZ have been exposed an found to  be cracked to their core, with the climate crisis demanding a radical change, this pandemic is the perfect time to challenge the religious orthodoxy of free market dogma.

This is a unique moment for the NZ Left ever since Identity Politics over took class politics as the dominant theory on our side of the political divide. It means currently that the Left in NZ are intellectually better prepared to organise a WoC Mommy Blogger Trans Ally free the nipple petition on Action Station than they are to debate the hegemonic structure of neoliberalism.

This has left the Left intellectually ill prepared to debate the failures of the free market economy and the solutions we must adopt to get out of this.

Here are some thoughts on where NZ needs to go.

Union Membership: We have seen that Unions were the only protection essential workers had during the pandemic and that their input was crucial for developing real service strategies that the bosses were devoid of. Universal Union membership would immediately quench the exploitation of migrant workers AND extinguish the exploitation of International and Domestic Tertiary Students.

Welfare: The legacy of punitive welfare provision to create underclasses that the right turn on each other must come to an end for equality purposes, quality of life purposes and basic human decency.

Living Wage: We need a living wage to replace a mimim wage as a matter of course.

Think Bigger: With free market supply chains now in retreat because of the virus, we need a huge infrastructure rebuild of a basic pharmaceutical industry, we need solar panels on every roof, we need light manufacturing industry, wood processing industry, and an enormous tech upgrade to our internet infrastructure. Tourism can only happen if we build quarantine infrastructure to hold all tourists in quarantine before they begin to travel.

Rebuild Green: The entire rebuild of our economy demands sustainability be front and foremost in all things. Free public transport, solar panels on all roofs, local industry that replaces as many unsustainable parts as possible.

Unleashing NZ entrepreneurship: NZ has a long history of entrepreneurship and we need it now. There should be tax breaks for research and tax breaks for companies that look to be sustainable and ethical. There should be an ease with entrepreneurs walking away from failing business, cauterise the debt and allow them to re-chanel their energies into new green businesses.

Labour are notoriously timid when it comes to challenging the neoliberal hegemonic structure because they were the Party that unleashed this far right experiment upon us and the scars of that debate are still raw in Labour’s psyche, luckily for us the economic depression will be so deep and damaging that even Cautious Jacinda and Extra Cautious Grant have no choice but to reform and rebuild.


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  1. …because bringing in exploitative colonists and their slaves and slumlords like Gary Lin is fucking nuts?

  2. Wait there’s more!
    With 354,000 still on the main benefit, I’m calling the 4% figure bs!

    Try 11.3% for the June quarter.

    • Region

      The only statistically significant change in employment, by region, was in Auckland, with 28,700 more people employed, to reach 945,700.

      I have posted a link that sits in premoderation.
      and here are your beneficiaries.
      In the year to the June 2021 quarter, the number of employees in temporary work (which includes casual, seasonal, fixed-term, and temporary agency employees) grew by 21.5 percent (34,400) to 194,700.

      • Remember. 1 hour of work means you are employed.
        SNZ stat’s are worse than MSD’s when it comes to how they slice and dice the numbers and have a different criterion to MSD when measuring the unemployed and employed.

        Using percentages is a sneaky way of concealing what the real number of unemployed v employed really is.

    • “Universal Basic Income” is the future. You get paid for watching Netflix and making babies. Who wouldn’t want that? Well anyone who wants a reason to live, but that’s beside the point. This was always an inevitable ramification of industrialised agriculture. Watch WALL-E and The Expanse.

  3. The cost of goods and general inflation are rising faster than wage growth and will continue to do so in a tight labor market. The majority of our businesses are small, capital constrained and without equity from shareholder’s houses technically insolvent. They are not making super profits in most instances therefore cannot afford significant wage growth.

    So cost of living increases. The true story of economic vandalism being committed by the current government hasn’t been told yet. Moreover though the effects are slowly but surely being felt.

    In an environment of full employment (sic) you are all poorer for it.

    • Keep spouting that rubbish Frank and you’ll end up leader of the demented Nat’s. You’d fit right in!

      • LOL. Unfortunately my organizational Tourette’s would preclude such an endeavor and it would too painful to explain to the feckless ones what “Fucktard” means when I apply it to 90% of senior public servants.

        • Well I can respect your disdain for the embedded neo liberal elite if that is what it is, however, we need solutions and we wont find them in any more free market neo liberalism.

          There were many, many millionaires during the Keynesion era, and there were many average folk who did well as workers. I suggest a return to that era.

    • Get a life Frank. I’ve lived through high inflation times, the problems we had then pale into insignificance to the problems we have now.

      One of the big downsides to taming inflation was the worker ultimately bore the cost, it was wages that must be stifled and suppressed and when the locals wouldn’t accept poor pay and conditions, business went overseas shopping for cheap exploitable labour. The fastest race to the bottom if I’ve ever seen.

      Until were arrive at the present day, where homelessness, poverty and hopelessness is endemic in our society.

      Cannot help but think taming inflation helped the rich get richer and that’s was what it was really about.

      • Where neoliberalism fails in a time of high inflation is, “TaXation”!

        Part of the equation is tax. High inflation can be curtailed by increasing the taxes on the wealth and/or introduce a CGT, Stamp Duty, Inheritance tax etc … it takes the steam out of increasing inflation and also put more money into the governments’ coffer to them redistribute into Health, Education BUILDING FUCKN HOUSES ECT …
        But, neoliberals are too gutless to follow through on the ‘equation’.

    • +1 Frank the Tank, inflation is starting and NZ can’t rely on overseas supply chains anymore, so might have to start making things in NZ and keeping goods in NZ. The novelty. Even the horror of NZ’s artificial wages from 20 years ago might have to start to match OZ. The horror of supermarkets and business sharing their profits with workers! Hopefully the worst exploiters Ponzi’s will burst, freeing up their labour for other better run businesses.

    • Economic vandalism was the immigration ponzi scheme of the 9 years of John Keys National government. 1 million in 10 years tells you the extent of the vandalism. Evidence backs this rather than innuendo.

    • I have no idea what you are going on about, but I think we do agree that ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) is incredibility damaging to the economy over longer periods of time(?). When the only source of capital is money printing (via debt issued with no interest) from the central bank, it’s just a matter of time before capitalism collapse. A lot of people can’t wait for that happen. Be careful what you wish for… especially if you don’t have anything you can not only not immediately replace it with but won’t accepted by most people.

    • I can see Chloe enacting real change. I can’t see Grant or Jacinda. Maybe we need to be changing who we vote for to get the change we all want. This sitting idly by waiting for Jacinda and Grant to do something truly transformative isn’t working, that’s just not them. People need to wake up to that fact.

  4. 3.8 for men,
    4.3 for women.

    For men, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, down from 4.6 percent last quarter. an 0.8 % decrease
    For women, the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent, down from 4.6 percent. an 0.3% decrease.

    The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people fell to 117,000, down 17,000, or 12.4 percent. This is the largest quarterly percentage fall since the HLFS series began in 1986.

    12,000 fewer men were unemployed.
    5,000 fewer women were unemployed.
    For men, the underutilisation rate fell to 8.3 percent, down from 10.0 percent.
    For women, the underutilisation rate fell to 13.0 percent, down from 14.6 percent.
    In the June 2021 quarter, the number of people who were underutilised fell to 315,000 (down 48,000):

    26,000 fewer men were underutilised
    22,000 fewer women were underutilised.

    Increase in temporary work
    In the year to the June 2021 quarter, the number of employees in temporary work (which includes casual, seasonal, fixed-term, and temporary agency employees) grew by 21.5 percent (34,400) to 194,700.

    The only statistically significant change in employment, by region, was in Auckland, with 28,700 more people employed, to reach 945,700.

    While the ‘low’ number seems fine, it is only an average, and will be quite a different story if broken down by region, ethnicity, sex.


    it also appears that the only region that really has had a drop in unemployment is Auckland with the rest of the country going nowhere real fast.

    so yeah, keep the borders closed to doctors, nurses, teachers, horticultural and agricultural workers, cause we don’t stinking need them.
    but this guy here, we do need him. WE need him so badly that the government don’t even let us know how the fullah came into the country and above all , IS he a citizen? The Geezer from Google, who is riding out the Covid plague in Fidji unless of course when he is in NZ.

  5. God damn truth said here Martin.

    I am see Fullers, infamous and the last word in unreliability for ferries are having to step up and actually recruit Kiwi’s and train them, such are their shortages. And just maybe, be nice to their staff to retain them. And worse still, pay them decent wages.

    God forbid NZ had come to this terrible crossroads where New Zealanders come first!

    • +1 it’s a catastrophe as well as the pressure to pay decent wages, recruit and train Kiwis there is also the difficulty retaining your staff who are expected to pay back their wages. Quick, open the borders!

    • Covid19 has been the best thing to happen to NZ employment in my lifetime. Wages going up, unions slowly becoming active and employers starting to realise the value of workers. Unintended consequences sure, but good ones for the battlers. Keep borders shut indeed.

      • Meanwhile our poor immunity is killing people from RSV, but that’s ok, great grandma lives another 2 years, while children and infants lives are threatened eh?

  6. I know this is heresy to the woke, but if they actually deport all the labour exploiters as their daily prayer (may the woke gods, protect migrant exploitation), they kill two birds with one stone, aka ‘protect’ the migrant exploited by expelling the migrant exploiters and freeing up some housing mansions and land, couldn’t hurt.

  7. Martyn
    If we keep the borders shut, we need to also aim to be more self sufficient. And we need a serious attitude change.
    1. Closing our only refinery and making it a fuel terminal is nuts – one earthquake and the ships can’t dock to unload the refined fuel – no fuel!
    2. importing coal is crazy when we have good coal here – the Greens will just have shut the fuck up while they enjoy electricity.
    3. Farmers will have to be treated like gods – they make our food.
    4. Everyone has to pull their weight – so anyone on the dole who is able and can work needs to kicked off and go and work.
    5. Anyone or any business creating jobs needs to be rewarded with serious tax cuts or otherwise.
    6. Wellington govt depts needs to be cut in half – they can learn how to pick fruit or make roads, instead of standing in a rainshelter with their clipboards and their RMA rule book.
    It could work!

  8. The rules of engagement have graphically changed with lightening speed. Our biosphere’s diseased with a virus called humanity and we, in turn, have a lethal virus quietly and mercilessly moving about amongst us.
    Don’t listen to what the money fetishists tell you. Let common sense be your guide.
    Close the borders. ( The problem will be; will our multi-billionaire amercan masters let us? )

    • Indeed, keep those borders firmly closed. Apart from which, and apart from trade, – we don’t need ’em all here pouring into our country! And maybe if they’d care to learn, they could duplicate our example in their own country’s.

      And wouldn’t that be lovely !

      “MY FAIR LADY”/”Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”

  9. Thank-you Martyn for another timely article. Nothing like a crisis to show up weaknesses in a system; are we brave enough to pressure the government into adopting changes based on the lessons learnt? I agree with your ‘thoughts where NZ needs to go”.

  10. No amount of idealism, ideology , or debate will shift these guys. They are concerned only with the ability to make money. This is their undergirding motivation. For 40 years coming up this is all we have ever got from them.

    The only way to remove them is with politically robust extrication. We do not want violent altercations but we want them gone. Therefore, the common thread inhibiting that from taking place is the lack of dialogue from a privatized news media. Because they don’t want the NZ public to be politically informed and a realistic debate to occur. It would hurt their profits.

    While Europe and the Americas have CNN, BBC, … we have silly Hillary talking about Mrs Jones cat up a tree rescued by the Fire Dept. And at prime time.

    We need more than just Jack Tame. We need an army of them. And the return of John Campbell. And a few more blokes like this :

    TVNZ Fourth Estate 1985

    Brian Priestley | NZ On Screenhttps://www.nzonscreen.com › profile › brian-priestley

  11. I read somewhere that higher wages comes with higher productivity, and we in NZ don’t do productivity. The article explained that the larger companies expansion and extra profit creates the ability to pay more in wages. I’m not saying they do pay higher wages but have the ability to pay more to workers. Because so many of our businesses are small and less productive, the ability to pay more is less. How you get businesses to grow to potential with closed borders is beyond me. We’ll continue to live in our low paid bubble creating more debt while trying to replace our ancient infrastructure. I think Martyn’s dream is flawed.

      • WK. I’ll accept your vision if you explain how you pay for it. That’s this Government’s dream and they can’t pay for it. Productivity and hard work raises living standards. This country finds that challenging.

    • Tax?…. lets tax the rich and make up the shortfall they pay with the Reserve Bank and commanding them to release finance for massive house builds and public works! Ferk the foreigners and ferk the piratical rich in NZ!!!

      Well I heard NEO LIBERALS sing about her
      Well I heard ol’ DOUGLAS put her down
      Well I hope ol’ DOUGLAS will remember
      A Kiwi man don’t need him around anyhow…

      Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama

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