Come on NZ, we need a new Ministry of Works and you know it!

It is time to go beyond the neoliberal 30% GDP debt straitjacket and build a new State to build the infrastructure that a allows adaptation and resilience. 


The enormity of the political gravity climate change adaptation and infrastructure resilience has created alongside the solidarity of a shared universal experience is materialising politically in a State that has to do things itself.

The 30 year neoliberal experiment in NZ cut the State back to the bone and the political project of the Right ever since is to tax-cut starve off revenue for the State so it can’t redistribute it in the first place.

What we saw with Covid and this latest weather event disaster is that you desperately need a State with capacity. So many of the problems we encountered was the shear slowness of an underfunded, under capacity public service.

With the economic recession, the geopolitical shockwaves and catastrophic climate change upon us, we must have a debate about the capacity of the State!

That is how the Left have to re frame 2023 – vote for the Right and get an amputation of the State, vote for the Left and build new capacity for the challenges ahead.

We need more Drs, more nurses, more teachers, more Police, more State houses, more infrastructure NOT LESS!

We need to debate for a bigger capacity State using the example Covid just gave us.

We need more Scientists, Drs, nurses, teachers, Police, more State houses and more infrastructure alongside policy that directly subsidises the cost of living like removing gst off food, free dental, free public transport, free food in schools and we will fund that extra increase through targeted new taxes to rebuild the capacity of the State.

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The obviousness of our need for a Ministry of Works that actually builds shit is painfully clear to everyone by now.

Take Police in NZ, we have a pathetic 203 police per 100 000 NZers!

Compare that with 212 in England, 264 in Australia, 318 in Scotland, 349 in Germany, 422 in France, hell even Fiji at 227 has more Police per 100 000 than we do!

We don’t have the capacity to create a functioning State that lives up to our expectations in a liberal progressive democracy because we won’t tax the rich to find that infrastructure!

We need to actually sell the 2023 election in those explicit terms – vote Right and amputate the State, vote Left and rebuild the capacity to actually face the challenges ahead.

These new taxes will be a sugar tax for free dental, a financial transaction tax to lower GST on everything, a bank windfall profit tax to build more State houses, a social media journalism tax.

Taxes aimed at speculators and the wealthy to fund services for the egalitarian country we want NZ to be.

Let’s have the courage to actually argue and win over our fellow citizens for solution based policy that actually builds the capacity to have the extra drs, nurses, firemen, police, and teachers.

Let’s champion policies that subsidise people’s cost of living by redistributing from the few to the many.

The voters of NZ are still waiting for the Transformative change we promised them in 2017.

We need a Ministry of Works that actually builds the infrastructure we desperately need.

We need the State to do this because the Free Market has failed.

There has already been amazing work on the creation of a new Ministry of Green Works

Rising To The Challenge: A Ministry Of Green Works For Aotearoa

Two of the biggest crises of our times – housing and climate change – could be the target of a new Ministry of Green Works that would integrate important responsibilities related to safeguarding Aotearoa’s future, according to a report released today by FIRST Union.

A Ministry of Green Works for Aotearoa New Zealand: An Ambitious Approach to Housing, Infrastructure, and Climate Change is a policy report commissioned by FIRST Union from co-authors Max Harris and Jacqueline Paul that considers Aotearoa’s systemic infrastructural problems and how they could be addressed by a new governmental entity that builds on the former Ministry of Works and integrates several key departmental responsibilities to future-proof the country for significant challenges to come.

“From our experience in workplaces, we know that contracting is a broken model that has driven down wages and led to massive inefficiencies in construction and infrastructure,” said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing.

“As the report describes, the private sector doesn’t have the capacity to deliver on large-scale housing projects and inevitably there are now worker shortages due to poor conditions in the sector.”

“Finally there is insufficient coordination to tackle climate change under the current model – the public sector has limited powers to ensure green building standards in housing and infrastructure, and it’s not equipped to respond to other unexpected challenges, like quickly building managed isolation facilities, for example.”

The report argues that the right response to these problems will be consistent with seven values: honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi; manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata; Indigenous innovation; collaboration and coordination; creativity; safety and accessibility; and transformation of our economic model. The authors note that any new Ministry of Green Works must learn from its historic namesake and considers twelve risks related to its establishment.

The report contains feedback and interviews with experts including Ganesh Nana, John Tookey, Rosslyn Noonan, Len Cook, Andre Brett, Matthew Scobie, Syd Keepa, Judith Aitken, Susan Krumdieck, Alexis Harris, Murray Parrish, Jen McArthur, Troy Brockbank, Brendon Harre, Joe Gallagher, Ben Schrader, James Muir, Patrick Cummuskey, Andre de Groot, Ben Ross, Huhana Hickey and Nick Collins.

The report is being launched as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) begins in the United Kingdom over the upcoming weekend.

“Even with our best intentions to fix our housing, infrastructure and climate problems individually, we will miss the boat if we don’t consider their interrelatedness and set firm goals that integrate core functions of all agencies – this is where a Ministry of Green Works comes in,” said Mr Abbott.

“When the last Ministry of Works was cut up and sold off during the extreme ‘reforms’ of the 80s, we ended up a decade later with the leaky homes scandal and a lot of pressing questions – we can’t afford to wait for the consequences of climate change to set in before we act.”

…we have better solutions and we need a bigger State.

It is time to go beyond the neoliberal 30% GDP debt straitjacket and build a new State to build the infrastructure that a allows adaptation and resilience.

Bernard Hickey argues that even if we agree to the neoliberal Wellington Consensus of 30% GDP debt, we could still borrow $60Billion and remain within that absurd ideological economic straight jacket so where should that $60billion be spent on resilience and adaptation?

We need future proofing ideas, we need a Ministry of Works to do it, we need big ideas and we need big new taxes to fund those big ideas, we need to build in self sufficiency, we need mitigation and adaptation.

Unlike Covid, whose worst was avoided, this Cyclone damage is real world and physical. The magnitude of what is required from the State politically resets National and ACT’s small Government agenda.

No one wants to hear about amputating the State when they are running to the State for protection.

This was the exact same mistake the Right made last time with Covid.

The Rights usual slash and burn of the State simply isn’t sustainable in face of how invested the State is going to have to be in the rebuild.


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  1. Of the total government revenue, about a third is from PAYE and a third is from GST. So, if you’re intending to eliminate GST whilst adding to the state bureaucracy, you’re going to have to more than double income tax rates.
    The result would be a mass migration of working people over the Tasman and elsewhere. I read recently that Aussie has over 300,000 vacancies across all levels and is busy recruiting. Their average income is over $AU90,000. You can figure out the rest.

    • Yes, we need more doctors – especially the top ones. Heart surgeons, neurosurgeons, cancer specialists, etc., all who would be earning over $250K. They’re not going to be home grown and the other blog article says basically, tax that sort of income more. Why come here. We need top scientists too and civil engineers….

      • so thomas your justifying your low tax by using there hypothetical heart specialists?
        what puts people off coming to NZ isn’t the low 25percent tax rate it’s poverty wages, high gouged prices and housing stock that consists of draughty damp garden sheds.

    • Its thanks to tax cuts we got a GST increase which mainly affects the poor.
      I would be happy if this country did charge more in taxes, Maybe then all our infrastructure would actually work.
      Stop focusing on your own wealth, this me me me BS is why we ended up in this mess.

      • No, it doesn’t.
        Aussie has a theoretical higher headline tax rate, but very few people actually pay it because there are so many gaps and allowances.

  2. Well that’s a failed idea straight away! It’s got the word Green in it! Anything associated with those fuck ups is bound to fail!

    Do one thing. Focus just on one single thing and for once on the last 30+ years a NZ government just might be able to start and finish and achieve something. Build some fuckn Houses!
    Have the entire economy reorganised to deliver 100,000 houses in 10 to 15 years.

  3. It’s a major step forward to see the Stores & Warehouse union leaders making such a suggestion.

    They might have added that the Ministry of Works must immediately ensure all mothballed infrastructure is refurbished, and all abolished infrastructure is rebuilt — this includes all mass transit lines, the State Refinery, the Synthetic Fuel Corp., the State Mines, all flogged-off housing projects, and any closed hospital campuses.

    It might also be faster to have large foreign companies build these huge projects, and to have the Ministry of Works maintain and extend them thereafter.

    Abolishing all the tax cuts is part of the solution, but the economy is very weak and unproductive. Key industries need to be reconstructed, so there is income to be taxed in the first place.

    The Engineers’ Union (or the competing Manufacturing & Construction Union) now needs to write a report on rebuilding the industrial production base, to ensure the country’s status as an advanced industrialised nation is not permanently extinguished.

  4. What the Left have to prove is are they capable of running a bigger State. You have to go back and understand why we left the “State runs everything “ to start with. I’m a righty, and agree with much of what Martyn has suggested but this Labour government hasn’t convinced me they could run state owned enterprises successfully. In fact the opposite is more likely. I’m of an age where I’ve lived through both types of government. Post war a big state influence worked well but by the 1970s the state machine had become big and lazy. “Gliding on” comes to mind. Also the derogatory term “ Ministry of Wankers” was commonly used. If the State is going to build our roads and infrastructure it has to at least look like it’s capable of doing that and with Parliament now full of career politicians, many of whom couldn’t change a light bulb I shudder at the thought.

    • Not sure your views are very new at all.
      I well recall the criticism MWD workers used to get. “Leaning ion their shovels all day” and all that sort of crap.
      Instead of a couple of workers leaning on a shovel while they recover their breath, what we have now is a complete load of bullshit – supposedly in the name of ‘efficiency and effectiveness’.
      Half a dozen private companies all clipping the ticket. Such as the other day just down the road from here when some very minor road works were being done.
      – Orange cones from arsehole to breakfast
      – 3 people doing nothing but presumably on traffic management
      – 2 guys with clipboards. Presumably overseers of some sort
      – 1 guy doing the hard yakker

      The inefficiencies of MWD were always a myth. And the worst thing is that when it was dismantled, a wealth of intellectual property and experience went with it – ALL in the name of that “efficiency and effectiveness”
      It also had one of the best computer systems around providing services not just to MWD, but also anything to do with engineering requirements: NZPO, NZRailways, NZ Electricity Dept, Broadcasting, etc., AND providing backup for other Government Computing Services. Even printing electoral rolls

      • Tim I can’t disagree with what you say about the loss of intellectual property and the MoW collective ability to take on larger projects. As I wrote in my comment I agree with much of what Martyn says, however those older government departments became, in my opinion fat and lazy. I agree with you that present contractors are pretty average and are clipping the ticket. As you’ve alluded to the intellectual property, engineers etc that was there took decades to build up, so not something that can just be switched on. If this government was to initiate a new MoW it would have to start in very small way and build up the assets and personnel of along period. Is this government capable of doing that. IMO no.

        • “Is this government capable of doing that”
          I’ll concede there would be problems with implementation IF governments of whichever stripe persist in appointing people that’ve been through the revolving door more than just a few times and remain committed to the neo-liberal/3rd way faith. They generally stuff most things up because they lack any sort of imagination and nor are they prepared to explore any alternative ways of doing things.
          I have hope that Chippy is beginning to recognise that, as are one or two others in Labour.
          There are people around who could resurrect an MWD. I’m useless at remembering names otherwise I’d give some examples

      • Spot on comment OnceWasTim.
        Under privatisation, things are MORE costly and take LONGER to complete.
        We destroyed systems serving the many, to satiate the greed of a few.

  5. do we need more admin clowns? if I thought it would be effective I’d say yes, but if it’s another job creation scheme for the middle class….

  6. This current Labour Government lacks the skill and expertise to do anything right.Just look at their 5 year record,made critical issues worse.
    Running a larger State would be an absolute nightmare.
    This Government have proved to be incompetent.

  7. Didn’t the current Govt and its supporters like TDB to name only one of many, use Covid to significantly reduce the numbers of nurse, teachers and etc?

    Now you want to use covid as a reason to expand their numbers?

    No wonder so many turn off, they just can’t keep up with the silly games in play.

  8. That looks like a brilliant plan Martyn! It should be co-governed of course. Also, this will require not 4, but 10 or 12 entities, which is another word for 0800 numbers ‘housed in expensive waterfront offices with no contactable humans behind the whole thing, thus no responsibility or accountability how the money is used and who gets the huge contracts’.

  9. The ‘state’ employs 395,000 pople in Central government and another 50,000 in local. Hardly ‘cut to the bone’. There’s plenty of fat to trim.

  10. Ministry of Works (MOW) desperately needed in Bay of Plenty! Just for the grass at least! Main drag Cameron Road Tga a metre high everywhere, roundabouts, parks, median trips, berms. No one’s been doing anything here for months.


  11. Maybe we could ask Stuart Nash and the forestry industry – local and international – to contribute to the fundraiser the PM is holding.

  12. Could we include slash in the list of ‘man made climate change disasters’? Or would that be rude?

    • It was a freak event. If the slash had been chipped and mulched, and then that mass of mulch had washed all over Hawkes Bay, we’d be bleating about that too….. Fucking mulch! What should he questioned is the quality of the bridge building. Built on the cheap probably, in a highly flood prone area: just Google the history of flooding in Hawkes Bay.

  13. Slash, mulch, whatever. If I dumped that much shit in the “woods”, I’d be publicly shamed for my shitting, and then some. This is far far above a shit in the woods or strength of bridges. Forestry companies have had over 20 years to prepare for “unintended consequences”. They knew. Now, they will clean up. Already paid for. Where is our missing person? Buried in silt and slash, no doubt

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