The Gabrielle flood and Grant Robertson’s budget, and all the future floods


Grant Robertson may be revising his budget because of this one flood; but he can’t lose sight of the wider economy. (TV One News  20 Feb)

Teachers are striking next month and he has to head that off; especially in an election year. Teachers have a right to be very annoyed with his previous wage settlements. Grant has caused a flood of problems for Education – recruitment and retention of skilled motivating inspirational teachers. So essential to grow our future workforce. We know many businesses just want to import labour as a relatively cheap option rather than grow our own. But now more than ever we need to grow our children, our people. Getting our teachers not worried about finances will go a long way to help that. The extra work they do outside the class is enormous, and keeps so many sports going.  Without good wages education over time will turn to lots of Dickens style teachers; self aggrandising bullies of children. 

Grant has caused a flood of problems in the health sector. Poor Andrew Little constantly having to cover for Grants short sighted decisions. Andrew must be relieved to be out of the role.  Shortages of skilled staff are a direct consequence of Grants parsimonious wage settlements. e.g. income is set way too low to attract more people to be midwives. It just goes on and on. Retention is critical. All this moaning but some people are useless and don’t deserve pay rises. That will be a tiny percentage and it’s a bell curve so after a while even good people will come under pressure. Some will be less effective as they have burned out from the huge pressure in health from the pandemic.  More of those problems are coming. 

These are bread and butter issues for the wider economy and society. They are the base of a functioning society. These can’t be down graded and forgotten in the glam media fascination with photos of mud, twisted fences, slips, slash, buried cars and houses. And the tragedies. I am transfixed; but a Minister of Finance should not be.

Grant does seem to be signalling he is going to forget his previous budget and now he is going to help a few thousand businesses to stay afloat. They do need help; but the National Party mantra is people should not get handouts they should get a hand up. The way how that mantra was rolled out to beneficiaries under National was pretty harsh; but beneficiaries were not their voters. Grant should not be so harsh as National was. But the assistance provided to businesses should come as loans or with claims on future profits. If the business is a company perhaps the government should take shares in the company; shares with a right to dividends. Shares that can be bought back or on-sold at a later date. This is an equitable trade off between support and the role of business to make a profit and support society.

This approach would also deal with the central administration problem that some people are so much worse off than others. e.g. they gave an example of one orchard losing almost 100 of their crop and another nearby only lost about 20%. A scheme that takes on a liability means a better off orchard or business will have less incentive to try and play the system to get a handout they may not be entitled to, because you have to pay it back. 

This flood raises the issue of the role of government. e.g. I suggest it is not the primary responsibility of government to repay people who lost rental property, or business profits. The first priority is to look after those who lost their primary house that they lived in. This is the same principle that should apply to all plans for managed retreat with sea level rise and floods. If somebody owns lots of properties then they can just move to another one. Scarce government money can’t be recompensing relatively wealthy people ahead of those who only have one home. The poor should be getting new homes built for them in safe locations. 

The Minister of Finance has to take the longer view. Mr Robertson by visiting the damage and signalling he is revising his budget sounds a little like a short term view driven by a worry about short term headlines. The heart of the economy and our society lies elsewhere.

TDB Recommends


  1. Why should ordinary homeowners get paid out? Isn’t that what insurance is for?

    And if the government compensates people without insurance, why would any people pay for insurance? That’s called ‘moral hazard’.

    The cost of insurance is going to be a very important way to deter people buying or building on floodplains and in places where we will have to retreat from. But Minto’s scheme would nullify that by having automatic compensation.

    Also, those people who don’t own houses and likely never will can legitimately ask why the lucky New Zealanders who do have a house get another bail out from taxpayers, just like the tax free appreciation of that housing asset?

    • So the insurance corporations aren’t going to move to recoup those payouts? And who will be the ones paying for the cyclone recovery then? Not anyone who has to pay insurance, of any kind, surely…. That is so logical. Why waste money helping people when the cost can be easily shifted onto the general public.. Bill English would be proud of you..

  2. It’s not moral hazard to be poor and not be able to pay for insurance. Govt has the chance now to start a process of having housing as a right. Govt will provide that housing. Having multiple properties is a choice if you’re not insured. But even the wealthy have a right to housing if they lose everything.

    • What do they call people that are lacking in any sort of compassion or empathy?
      Or those that spend their time worrying about others getting considerably considerably considerably more than them? I think there’s a or phrase word for it.

        • I think you might be mistaken @ Fucking Ada. But then you are considerably, considerably, considerably more comfy and intelligent than me.
          You may be in greater receipt of the wealth of society’s endeavours, but that’s because you’re more deserving. I’m not sure of your life’s story, but I’ll bet you ride on the notion of your pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
          You didn’t get where you are today of course.
          Gawd how I wish I could be you.

          You really are a bit of a silly bitch incha. Get your gates, CCTV and security in order. The ferals are on the march

            • Wha wha wha. Victim victim victim.
              I am completly into using insults and ridicule for the likes of you @ Fucking Ada. Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander.
              The minute you start applying your supposed principles to all, regardless of your prejudices is the minute I’ll start fawning over your gorjiss presence (And of course YOU know just how spectacular that presence is)
              Meantime I regard you as just another peice of shit not worthy of expending any more of my emotional ‘capital’

              • the middle class are all–
                my property keep govt out of my life
                I don’t wanna pay tax
                no to a cgt
                roll back the state
                then it’s hands out for that socialamalistical compo

  3. Consider that we want to cull cows in order for us to have flying electric cars let me just suggest that this should be ‘wonder bread and margarine’ issues, or ‘insect and grub’ issues. Bread and Butter is so pre climate change panic of the middle class.
    As for the teachers, go fucking strike to to your hearts content, and hopefully the kids do to. Just two of the groups of many people this current majority labor government – who cares of the figure head – has left behind, with glee i might add.

  4. If the government had any real vision for the future, they would be trying to get ahead of the global debt crisis and coming stagflationary collapse.

    They could close the markets, and order the Reserve Bank to simultaneously launch Q.E. V, T.A.R.P. II, and a currency reset — a write-off of all corporate debt (which is unpayable anyway), and a return to sound money.

    At the same time, the ‘Trump Debt Plan’ could be announced — a one-time wealth tax to wipe out the national debt entirely.

    The Reserve Bank could now reopen the gold window, immediately normalise rates, and then reopen markets. Suddenly, NZD. and the NZX. would be set for a huge boom — right when the rest of the world is crashing.

    Foreign money looking for a safe haven would flood into local markets. Suddenly rebuilding the failed rustbelt economy and collapsed infrastructure wouldn’t look like such a Herculean task.

    • There is no such thing as ‘sound money’ . The gold standard is not sound. Crashes still happened under this standard. In fact they were worse.
      The debt crisis is due to the way we constructed out tax system and how we organise our financial system. All fixable without a crash.

  5. I hope people are watching Parly armint and the various speeches from each political party.
    @Damien Grant: DO you think you could do Eeore Seemore a favour (for his own sake as a male of the human species)?
    There goes an intelligent specimen, steeped in libertarian ideology and theory, but without any sort of experience as a human being.
    Could I humble suggest either you, or perhaps Matthew Hooten, or even Brooke van Velden volunteer for a Pare Max lockup, or somewhere else of your choosing where you could give the guy a little life experience.
    Somewhere in Aro Street even.
    Seriously! I’d even come and watch and assist.
    Being the compassionate sort of guy I am, it pains me to see such an intelligent specimen become one of life’s little tragedies and I’m concerned not only about His work-life balance, but also his place in society when his vision of the future all goes tits up.

  6. Here wee are discussing political ploys that are purely based on ideology, personal beliefs, rather than on what is good governance for the people as a whole. People in this political party view are not even chess pieces – more empty spaces to push around playing draughts!

    Grant does seem to be signalling he is going to forget his previous budget and now he is going to help a few thousand businesses to stay afloat. They do need help; but the National Party mantra is people should not get handouts they should get a hand up. The way how that mantra was rolled out to beneficiaries under National was pretty harsh; but beneficiaries were not their voters. Grant should not be so harsh as National was.

    • Its very interesting to see all the businesses asking for money. The National party asking for wage subsidies yesterday .Its also very interesting to witness the people who now ask for tax payer money who probably castigated the government only a short while ago for extravagant spending ( as can be seen by the polls )( if you believe them that is). It will also be interesting to see the next set of polling . Will get things done do nothing luxon ride high if the perceived tax payer money is not enough for these business owners. I can see a very interesting conundrum developing over the next little while. Will it be ok to only support businesses and bugger the workers and beneficiaries . Will it be a “spend nothing” NACT coalition or a generous more user friendly Labour government who works for us all. Time and opportunistic greed will tell.

  7. DON’T worry queeny the society that can’t house the homeless will find the money to bail out homeowners

    if the poor are poor because they make bad decisions what the fuck is buying a home on a flood plain..if not a bad decision..which they now expect me and you to pay for…but they don’t wanna pay a cgt.


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