Archive for March, 2010

Economic Debate – Have We Got It Right On Mines?

Double standards are at work in Govt policy on resource development. When three companies proposed farming 18,000 cows in the Mackenzie Basin using European “cubicle farming” techniques, Environment Minister Nick Smith called in their applications for effluent consents because of national concerns such as the effect on NZ’s clean green image. The applications were withdrawn […]

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NZ Welfare Policy: Welfare Changes Play Well In National’s Heartlands

Re-asserting its agenda to pick up momentum again, the Govt announced wide-ranging welfare changes, as well as its mining stocktake. Both issues played well in National’s traditional heartlands, which have become concerned the Key Govt has become so enamoured of its poll ratings it won’t risk measures arousing any sort of political backlash. The tougher […]

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NZ Resources: Brownlee Signals NZ Inc Is Open For Business

The dawn of a new age of prosperity or an ecological disaster? The country appeared split down the middle as Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee unveiled the Govt’s policy on mining, through his so-called “stocktake.” Conservation lobby groups leapt to man the barricades against the goths and vandals. News media were flooded with wrathfully […]

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Economic Debate – How Much Fiscal Consolidation Is Needed?

Addressing a business audience late in January, RBNZ Governor Alan Bollard championed the country’s inflation-targeting monetary policy. He said it had proven flexible, durable and successful. It had been tested through a long period of growth, as well as droughts, migration shocks, terms of trade changes, an Asian crisis, a dot-com boom and bust, and, […]

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NZ State Sector: Turnaround In Public Sector Performance Is The Key

What the Key coalition is seeking to deliver out of the public sector is different from what any previous administration has done. Faced with fiscal stringency previous Govts imposed cuts, or restructuring. The Key Govt is not focused on cash savings, but rather on transforming what one Minister described as “an often crap service delivered […]

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NZ Politics: Ministers Scramble To Tidy Up – Opposition Exploits Flaws

While last week we reported the Govt was finally shedding its “do nothing” image, its attempts to gain momentum have foundered somewhat. Ministers were scrambling this week to tidy up assorted backfiring initiatives: Steven Joyce his “review” of the Supergold card over-spending, Rodney Hide the “undemocratic” aspects of the “super-city” merger in Auckland, such as […]

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Economic Debate – How To Measure Public Service Productivity

The headline on a statement from Education Minister Anne Tolley qualifies for a place on a Tui billboard. Her Ministry is being spruced up “to be more efficient, less bureaucratic.” Of course it will. But while every Ministry has been doing exactly the same thing since the public service was invented, this time there is […]

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NZ Politics: Opposition Gaining Traction, But Key’s Popularity Not Hurt

The Labour Opposition sees itself getting real traction from its Axe-The-Tax campaign. MPs on the bus tour report they are getting a strong response. They think the Key Govt is miscalculating the depth of public concern. For the first time since the election defeat, they feel they are re-connecting with their core support. The Govt’s […]

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Key Govt Sheds Its “Do Nothing” Image

Not so long ago the Govt was being accused of being a “do-nothing” outfit (not only by its critics but even by one of its allies). But the criticism has faded, as the Govt fleshes out its programmes. John Key’s administration is pursuing a methodical approach to securing its primary goals: sector-by-sector analysis to identify […]

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NZ Rail Sector: Parts Of The Rail Network May Be Axed

The National Infrastructure Plan unveiled this week makes it plain much of KiwiRail’s network hangs in the balance. A huge investment including $250m for a new Inter-island ferry is needed, but the Govt won’t commit funds until freight forwarders and bulk users back a commercial model, rather than rely on continuing Govt subsidies for a […]

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NZ Economy: Where Will Money For Superannuation Rise Come From?

John Key sought to de-fang the political onslaught of Grey Power lobbyists against the Govt’s planned GST increase by promising superannuitants a “double whammy” increase: a rise in the actual super rate plus tax cuts. These include the tax cut to their pension payments, and to any other income they receive from interest, dividends or […]

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NZ Politics: Heatley’s Demise – No Substitute For Political Experience

When National campaigned in 2008 there was the usual emphasis on law and order issues. Almost all political parties compete to present themselves as tougher than each other on crime. Usually this just feeds into more prisons, longer prison sentences, along with promises – rarely fulfilled – of more police on the beat. This sort […]

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Economic Debate – Which Inflation Target Is Best?

The boffins at BERL were buoyant, when senior IMF researchers published their assessment of world macroeconomic policy over the past 20 years and found it wanting. An obsession with achieving low inflation using policy interest rates – the researchers reckoned – may well have caused the crisis and certainly has made overcoming it more difficult. […]

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NZ Public Sector: Crucial Phase In Lifting Public Sector Performance

A crucial phase in the process to lift public sector performance has been reached this week. As part of the budget process, state departments and agencies are reporting back to Ministers on how they are dealing with their baseline expenditures to deliver the “significant and enduring changes to the way they operate,” demanded by the […]

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NZ Politics: NZ A Laboratory For Policy Development Again

Polling for the television channels appears to confirm the Govt will see its support base shrink rapidly when it increases GST in the May budget. The TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll, for example, recorded 69% of respondents didn’t think raising GST is a “good idea” and 63% didn’t believe they would be better off after the […]

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