Archive for July, 2011

US visit appraisal: Bad timing hinders Key

John Key has had confirmed in politics, timing is the essence. His call on the White House and President Barack Obama could not have gone better. All the key players were lined up. He was on best form. The homework had been done under Ambassador Mike Moore’s tutelage. The nuances and the atmospherics were right. […]

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Exclusive: Trans Tasman talks with David Parker

He’s been tagged Labour’s policy guru and maestro, and David Parker is clearly a man on the move. After years of playing an influential role in the back room, Parker has emerged this year as a key player in the engine room of economic policy development. He doesn’t talk about the leadership, but anyone watching […]

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Script followed, meeting shortened, Obama visit disappoints

Trade and currency dominate agenda. The old cliches about being “very, very good friends” still apply. But not yet allies. Amen.

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Electorate ‘match-fixing': Who will get burnt?

National’s in on the act in Epsom, and Labour’s trying to defend any deal with the Greens in Ohariu. Has anyone considered the voters?

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Labour’s procurement policy a political pawn

If a NZ business can’t deliver a good quality product to a NZ-based Crown entity compared with a foreign based company without assistance then it is more politically honest not to call it a procurement policy, but a state subsidy.

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Economic debate: What does the US budget impasse mean?

If it wasn’t so threatening to NZ’s economic health, we might laugh at the deficit-busting antics in the US.

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Play of the week: Shock therapy

Be careful what you wish for. Commentators, and indeed the general public, often wish politicians would be more courageous, and more prepared to endorse unpopular policies if those policies are in the best interest of the country. For the 2011 election, they appear to be doing just that. National has gone for a form of […]

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Labour’s CGT proposal not so equitable

The starting point in justifying a CGT is a buck is buck and no matter where your income comes from you should pay tax. So far so good. But on this score John Shewan says all gains, realised or unrealised, and including increases in the value of owneroccupied homes, would be taxed. In keeping with […]

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Tax: Labour’s ‘game-changer’ crashes and burns

The hard truth is voters hate new taxes. When a politician tells punters going through a tough economic spell that even tougher medicine has to be prescribed, the reaction is almost always hostile. The sweeteners are ignored.

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Economy expanding… but it doesn’t feel like it

Conflicting signals pose a headache for the Reserve bank. On one hand inflationary pressures suggest it might have to raise interest rates as early as October, but if it raises the OCR, it will push up the exchange rate even higher.

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Israel spy saga raises further questions

The fact Israel’s PM tried desperately to contact Key on the day of the quake, and an uninvited Israeli search and rescue team arrived in the red zone, to be escorted out by armed troops, suggests these were more than mere backpackers. More revelations are sure to follow.

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News from the departments: Big changes at NZTE

Chrisp has a tough job instilling a new culture at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, but he seems to be making headway.

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Parties target their message to exploit MMP

As NZ voters have become increasingly sophisticated about MMP, so too have parties in pitching their messages to target audiences. John Key has dominated the centre ground, which is why polls show National pulling votes, particularly from women, who in other elections have looked elsewhere. But in commanding the centre ground, National has left room […]

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ACC turnaround: Lower levies touted

The Govt was flagging victory this week in its campaign to turn around the finances of ACC, after reversing the deficits of $2.4bn in 2007/08 and $4.8bn in 2008/09 into surpluses of $2.5bn in each year since. As a consequence it is proposing cuts in levies for workers and businesses, freeing up half a billion […]

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Election: Fading Labour grasps for a lifeline

Labour is breaking away from the “don’t-frighten-the-horses” strategy of the Clark-Cullen era, and returning to what some within the party see as its socialist roots. In electoral terms it is unashamedly populist.

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Capital Gains Tax: The devil is in the detail

Goff is walking a political tightrope in trying to sell a CGT. But it all comes down to a simple – but challenging – question, which no one has adequately answered to date. Do the benefits exceed the cost?

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Diplomacy: Answers Key will be seeking in Washington

There will be a lot of warm fuzzies about a new era in NZ-US relations post the anti-nuclear hostilities, but the real meat of the mission lies in Key seeking a “fix” on the direction the world’s biggest economy is heading.

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Currency: The pain and pleasure of a high dollar

While the edge has been taken off high commodity prices, the high dollar has taken the sting out of the cost-of-living debate and steadied the costs of imported raw materials and goods – and if you’re heading overseas, aren’t you just loving the exchange rate?

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NZ’s huge energy resource could be tapped by 2021

NZ’s gas hydrate resources, at shallow depths below the seabed, are potentially among the largest in the world, with the most promising deposits being 10 times greater than the Maui field. The Crown Research Institute GNS Science says in the immediate future it aims to acquire new data from selected offshore regions to compile critical […]

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Play of the Week: Stop the shadow boxing

The debate over the country’s electoral system is degenerating into a battle between left and right by other means. In the red corner, the Campaign for MMP, run by a former Alliance Party candidate and with a bunch of union officials also on the bandwagon. This group makes a speciality of calling its opponents politically […]

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Election: Battle lines drawn as agenda set

Through the smoke, the battle lines have become clearer this week. National wants to lift incomes through faster economic growth and by creating the right environment to do so: Labour wants to create a “fairer” society by taxing the rich, and redistributing the wealth to the needy.

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Circuit-breaker or suicide note?

Will Labour’s tax plan bring in the money and be a ‘step change’ in the economy, as Phil Goff has said, or ‘crush everyday New Zealanders’, as John Key has forecast?

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Govt wary of Wai 262 implications

Tribunal’s recommendations to create a “partnership” between Crown and Maori on resource decision-making, may be difficult to align with the principle of democratic Govt, as NZers know it.

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New faces, new thinking for Fed Farmers

Hierarchy changes point to a new direction being taken by the organisation, as it seeks to reverse public perception farming is the problem, not the solution, in presenting NZ as “clean and green”.

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Labour’s taxing options

Some heavy duty analysis is likely to be going on behind the scenes in the Labour Caucus to work out what taxes need to be introduced or increased to pay for a combination of the party’s election promises and to bridge the huge gap between the Crown’s income and expenditure without resorting to the partial […]

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Economic debate: Are women paid fairly?

New Economist, a UK blog devoted to new research, data and analysis, a few years ago highlighted studies into the gender gap. It cited a small but growing body of evidence suggesting women in the workforce on average were more risk-averse and less likely to bargain (or ask for pay rises) than men. More boldly, […]

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New Treasury boss’s great expectations

Gabriel Mahklouf steps into the role when Treasury is rebuilding its firepower to focus on new ways to grow the economy, restore public finances, and sharpen up the public sector.

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Hopefuls jostle for Cabinet promotion

Speculation on who John Key might use to fill vacancies left by the departure of Simon Power, Wayne Mapp, and Georgina Te Heu Heu is rife. Frontrunners are Chris Tremain, Amy Adams, and Michael Woodhouse.

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Eyes on New Plymouth as electoral battleground

National’s Jonathan Young, the seat’s current holder, is up against Andrew Little, who has many of the credentials for a top role in any future Labour-led Govt. It would be a serious blow to Little if he had to rely on a list placing to get into Parliament.

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Govt riding high on successes

Christchurch quake deal and India trade commitment have turned public opinion in government’s favour.

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