Keith Rankin’s Chart for this Month: Slowly Increasing Teachers’ Earnings
This month’s chart uses a correctly proportioned (logarithmic) scale to compare the growth of the average hourly price of labour in Education/Training and miscellaneous Professional Services with wage growth across ‘all industries’ (bearing in mind that most workers are employed in service ‘industries’).
We should relate this to my June Chart (The Future of Work?) and commentary, and with David Graeber’s analysis in mind (Why bullshit jobs are booming [Radio New Zealand], and On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs [Strike, 2013]). We note in particular that, while ‘bullshit jobs’ can be found in all industries – and there are signs that employment in many service occupations is being subject to a process of bullshitisation – Graeber’s bullshit jobs are heavily concentrated in the rapidly growing ‘Professional, Scientific, Technical, Administrative and Support Services’ industry. (This is the PSTAS – or ‘pissed as’ – sector.)
In this month’s chart, we see gridlines labelled ‘500’ and ‘1000’. The ‘1000’ represents a doubling of nominal (ie not inflation-adjusted) hourly earnings. Thus we can see that average hourly earnings doubled between 1989 and 2010. Likewise, they doubled between 1995 and 2018. (The increase from one gridline to the next is about 26 percent. Three gridlines represent a 100% compounded increase.)
In education, hourly wages barely grew in the early 1990s – the years of Ruthanasia, which culminated in the passing of 1994 Fiscal Responsibility Act. Public sector expenditure was ruthlessly (or ‘Ruthfully’?) suppressed at a time when official unemployment reached 11 percent and actual unemployment was double that. However, education wages did catch up in the decade after 1995 – the decade in which the international education industry grew very rapidly in New Zealand.
It was after 2009 that education wages started to fall behind again. In a couple of years in the middle of this decade, education wage growth was basically nil while some PSTAS workers experienced large earnings’ increases.
It is certainly true that education workers need a pay catch-up, and by more than the chart suggests.
Average hourly earnings is influenced by the average experience in the teaching workforce, and by the changing mix between teaching and management staff. As the teaching profession has aged, teachers’ average hourly wages have increased by much more than new-teacher wage rates. (The opposite applies to PSTAS remuneration, as the many new entrants bring down the industry average.)
Further, many people employed in the last five years within the education industry have been managers on six-figure salaries (many doing jobs that fit Graeber’s definition of “bullshit jobs” – jobs the performance of which does not augment social or economic well-being). The industry average earnings growth will have overstated the earnings’ growth of teachers, especially during the 2016 wage spurt.
One of the biggest problems that teachers face was well expressed in the well-received (in Australia) ABC Teaching Special Q+A television program (8 October 2018; downloadable; transcript available) was ‘demoralisation’. Demoralisation relates to incremental though persistent increases in the (essentially bureaucratic) non-teaching workload that teachers face (as in ‘if the students would only go away I would be able to do the work I am required to prioritise’). Essentially this unnecessary work overload is the ‘bullshitisation’ of the teaching profession, and is the deep underlying cause of teachers’ frustration.
More-and-more of teachers’ work is coming to resemble the work done in ‘bullshit jobs’. It means teachers are doing evermore work in total; overtime work they are not getting paid for. If we divide teachers’ salaries by the actual amounts of work they are expected to do, then the average hourly rate of teacher remuneration has been falling. Economists would say that the increased underpricing of teachers’ labour is the root cause of the shortage of teachers and trainee teachers. Add in excessive housing costs, and you have a profession in crisis. This is not a crisis that can be resolved through willful ignorance.
Evening Report Analysis – National Affairs and the Public Interest, by Selwyn Manning.
Accusations have surfaced alleging the current National Party leadership conspired to politically destroy Jami-Lee Ross – this after details of his affair with a fellow party MP became known to them. The allegations raise serious questions. Those questions include: what did National’s leader and deputy leader know and when did they find out?
A sworn to timeline of events is now essential so that the public interest can be satisfied. This must be a crucial element that is cemented in to the methodology of Simon Bridges’ inquiry into the culture of the National Party. Above all, it must be independent and publicly accessible.
The inquiry must examine the National leadership team’s actions and culture, test whether they acted in a proper and timely manner, and assess whether their actions considered a concern for the welfare and mental health of an MP they had previously supported, promoted, and embedded within their leadership team.
It follows that allegations suggesting a “hit job” was orchestrated from inside the National Party leadership must also be independently explored.
If the inquiry finds that either the leader, or deputy leader, was part of a destructive and inhumane attack on Jami-Lee Ross – while it was known that he was at high risk of being pushed over the edge, was ill, and verging on suicide – and that they acted without reasonable regard for his welfare, then it must be accepted by the National Party caucus, its membership and the public, that this National leadership team is at the very least morally bankrupt.
This inquiry ought to be conducted amidst a background whereby Ross declared his role in the destructive side of politics; following the orders of Sir John Key, Bill English, Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges. Ross was afterall a ‘numbers man’ for Bridges, and benefitted from the patronage that the Bridges-Bennett leadership team offered.
There are a number of ‘ifs’ in this analysis, but the public interest demands that they be considered.
The allegations have surfaced on the blog-site Whaleoil which is owned and edited by controversial writer Cameron Slater.
Some may dismiss the allegations on the basis of tribalism, or ignore the allegations because Slater was centrally involved in National’s so called Dirty Politics as revealed in 2014. But the nature of the allegations are as serious as they get in politics, and, if accurate played a part in the sudden deterioration of Jami-Lee Ross’ mental health, the sectioning of Ross for his own protection, and the erasion of credibility of a potential political opponent who was determined to continue as a critical member of New Zealand’s Parliament.
This analysis’ argument suggests any such bias, on behalf by Cameron Slater’s opponents, ought to be ethically and morally put aside until such a time as the truth and facts are tested. Such an inquiry, preferably judicial but essentially independent, must be robust and critical in its analysis.
To reiterate; numerous elements of this saga elevate the issues to a matter of serious public interest.
And it must be noted at this juncture, that the party’s leader Simon Bridges insists he has acted appropriately and denies taking part in any political “hit job”.
Let’s examine what Evening Report has learned from contacts close to events.
Alleged details of events between Saturday-Sunday October 20-21
There is a txt-chain of events that investigators can forensically examine that are central to understanding who was involved in the sectioning of Jami-Lee Ross.
If the txts are examined they will determine if it is fact that the National Party MP, with whom Jami-Lee Ross had a three-year affair, rang the Police and that as a consequence of that call the Police used mental health laws to take Jami-Lee Ross into custody and contain him within the mental health unit at Counties Manukau Health.
Txts will also show whether it is fact that the female MP then called Simon Bridges’ chief of staff at 9:15pm on Saturday October 20 informing him of the events. If so Bridges’ office was aware of an alleged suicide attempt. Investigators would then be able to assess whether a txt message from Jami-Lee Ross’ psychologist, who Evening Report understands messaged Jami-Lee Ross at 9:28pm on Saturday October 20, asking if he was ok, and that the psychologist had minutes prior received a txt message from Jamie Gray, Simon Bridges’ chief of staff.
It is a matter of public record that Simon Bridges appeared on NewsHub’s AM Show on Tuesday October 23, denying all knowledge of events on the Saturday night – that is until a wider grouping within the National Party became privy to what had happened to Jami-Lee Ross.
It appears reasonable to form an opinion that Bridges’ chief of staff would have informed the leader of such an event. If he didn’t, why didn’t he inform Bridges?
The sectioning of Jami-Lee Ross ended a week where many National Party MPs, and a wider network of those loyal to the party, appeared to be actively orchestrating a coordinated campaign to destroy the so-called rogue MP’s political chances and to discredit his claims of corruption within the National Party leadership. Had Jami-Lee Ross abused his position as the senior whip within the party? It certainly appears so. Did he abuse the power he was afforded? Media reports would suggest this was so. Did he have an affair with at least two women? Yes. But it appears that the public attacks began, not at the time when senior members of the party were informed of Ross’ actions, but, once Ross began to attack the leadership. This is significant.
An Opposition’s Role As The Public’s Advocate
As senior representatives of New Zealand’s Legislature, leader Simon Bridges and deputy leader Paula Bennett can arguably be regarded as the public’s advocates within Parliament. Their job is to keep the Executive Government on its toes, challenge its policy and rationale, to be Parliament’s keepers of the public’s interest.
As such, the public deserves to know if the leaders, as a team or individually, conspired to destroy the political chances of an MP and former colleague, who they considered to have gone rogue, and who they knew was suffering a crisis of mental health so serious that it could have ended in death.
It is in consideration of the public interest, that this editorial is written.
We now know as fact, Jami-Lee Ross had a three year affair with a South Island-based National MP.[name withheld]. Like him, she has two children and was married.
While the affair was going ‘well’, contacts inside the National Party have told Evening Report that Jami-Lee encouraged Bridges to promote his lover above her standing and reputation in caucus, well above some high profile MPs like National’s Chris Bishop who are respected among colleagues and media and seen to have been doing their job well. The promotion was seen to give leverage, to sure up the numbers to stabilise Bridges’ and Bennett’s leadership team at a time when they sensed support was delicate.
Meanwhile, Jami-Lee Ross continued to pull in big donations from wealthy Chinese residents in his Botany electorate. As a reward, Bridges embedded him into his inner core, the top three. Politically, this is really an unsound move by a political leader. With Ross being senior whip, he is supposed to be directed by the leader to pull MPs into line, to do the leader’s bidding, and to do this without necessarily knowing the deep and dark details underlying the leader’s moves.
In effect, with Jami-Lee Ross becoming a central figure, knowing all the details, the dirt, the strategy and tactics, it centralised too much power into the whip position and elevated a real danger of a whip using the position for his own gain. To reiterate, this appears a seriously stupid move of Bridges and Bennett to pull a whip in on their machinations. And, in a significant contact’s view, it appears they risked this because Jami-Lee was pulling in the donor money.
Jami-Lee Ross had been on the rise for a time. Former Prime Minister John Key promoted him to the whips office. Then PM Bill English secured Ross’s rise by maintaining and elevating his whip role. Bridges and Bennett further empowered Jami-Lee Ross by cementing him into the whip position, a move that suggested National’s power-politicians were well satisfied with his service.
It’s hard to tell how far back it was when Jami-Lee Ross began to record Bridges. And, at this juncture, it’s difficult to know if he recorded Bennett as well. The public is left to fathom whether it was when his affair with the National MP went sour and perhaps Ross sensed Bennett having become close to her.
In any event, when Jami-Lee Ross fell out with his colleague and lover, sources say Bennett played a crucial role in the analysis of his conduct, in particular women who had allegedly been burned by Ross. Two women, contacts inside National state were staff of the National Party leader. The MP (whom Ross had a three-year affair with) and the two staff members are said by National Party contacts to be the subject of NewsRoom.co.nz’s investigation into Ross’ activities, an investigation that is believed to have spanned up to one year in duration. Evening Report raises this aspect as the public interest demands to consider whether it is reasonable to believe that two staffers in the leader’s office never told nor informed Bridges, or the chief of staff, that they were cooperating in a media investigation into the leader’s chief and senior whip?
Contacts state that Bennett gained the women’s confidence, received information so it could be prepared as part of a disciplinary process. Did Bennett choose to engage media with this information? If so, once media received the information, what involvement did the deputy leader have or continue to have, or engage with, the complainants and media?
Sources inside National state Bennett then seeded info about Jami-Lee Ross having had an affair. They point to her having hinted at behaviour unbecoming of a married member of Parliament during an interview before TV, radio and print journalists. Did she do this without Bridges knowing or being forewarned.
If true, in effect, this would have driven the narrative ahead of the leader. If so, it is reasonable to fathom that a senior politician would know Bridges would be forced to defend the character-attack campaign that appeared orchestrated and designed to destroy Ross. Amidst the firestorm, National MP Maggie Barry spoke out against Ross with significant indignation. This will have been digested by the public that National had expelled a human predator from its midst. It also gave the impression National’s female caucus members were unified. However, respected MP Nikki Kaye kept out of it. Why?
Next, Bridges was forced to field political journalists’ questions about breaking the old convention that you keep affairs and family issues under the covers.
Bridges was then compelled to inform media that he had “told off” his deputy leader for giving credence that an affair had been ongoing between Ross and a Nat MP. This made Bridges look even weaker.
The future of National’s leadership
National Party contacts suggest Bridges is positioned where he will be forced to absorb the political fallout for what is seen by some as a character assassination campaign gone wrong. One contact states that once Bridges is rendered useless, and the issue dies down, Bennett herself will be well positioned to remove Bridges as leader in 2019.
It is reasonable to form an opinion that senior National MP Judith Collins will also be available if the leadership were to fall vacant. Her popularity is again on the rise.
At this juncture, for Bridges and Bennett, it appears wise for them to expect more National Party dirt to emerge before the end of the year. Evening Report’s sources say: “ample dirt lingers just below the surface.”
For a party that once stated it had no factions, it certainly seems its personality factions are now in all-out political warfare.
Judith Collins’ star has been rising since she returned to the front-bench in opposition. And it has been bolstered by a favourable Colmar Brunton Poll. It’s fair to suggest she has laid heavy hits on Labour’s Housing Minister Phil Twyford. As a consequence, her standing within the caucus has improved. On investigation, it is clear she has not had the loyalty of Jami-Lee Ross since he was promoted by John Key. He, along with Mark Mitchell, then supported Bill English for the leadership. Bennett and Mitchell are politically close. It does appear that moves by some media to connect Jami-Lee Ross’ revelations with a Judith Collins plan as not based on fact.
While there’s an expectation among interested public that Collins will be the next leader, she will need the support of what’s left of National’s social conservatives and those loyal to Nikki Kaye.
For Collins to succeed, she will have to be seen to inoculate the party from damaging information that may be in the possession of Jami-Lee Ross. All the while, she, like Bennett, needs Bridges to continue to fail as a leader.
It is fair to accept, the recordings and damaging information are now with Cam Slater and Simon Lusk. It is also reasonable to suggest that Bridges is a disappointment to some who once supported his bid for leadership. Cam Slater is clearly appalled at what he refers to as a “hit job”.
Slater is adamant that he is not motivated by an agenda, nor by a pitch by a fiscal conservative faction to gain leadership of the National party. Rather he said, he is motivated to help an old friend who the current leadership moved to destroy. He added on his blog-site, if the current leadership continues “to lie” he will continue to reveal the truth.
Meanwhile, Jami-Lee Ross is being reassured and cared for by a mutual friend of his and Slaters who is a pastor with the Seventh Day Adventists.
Contacts say, with regard to Jami-Lee Ross and his National Party former lover and colleague, the three year affair was a relationship that in the end didn’t deliver what either banked on – despite promotions and connections and having benefitted politically from their association.
It’s fair to say, Jami-Lee Ross was out of his experiential depth and in part abusive from the point of view of how to handle political power, networks and consensual relationships.
Two other women who laid complaints about Ross, worked in the leader’s office.
Bridges is adamant he didn’t know about the abuse of power nor the complaints. Did Bennett know? At what point was she privy to the information?
One National Party contact said: “It defies reasonable belief that Bridges didn’t know.”
It is right that Bridges has initiated an inquiry into National’s culture. But that in itself falls short or what the public interest demands. Why? Because the inquiry reports back to Bridges, who as leader may well be one of the protagonists. Also, the report will not be released to the public which leaves it as a golden prize, the holy grail, for any journalist and, irrespective of who it damns or exonerates, will become a currency for any MP with leadership ambitions.
As it now stands, Bridges’ worst nightmare must be not knowing what Jami-Lee Ross recorded and at what point did he begin taping the National Party leader’s conversations.
If those recordings contain further embarrassing or damaging content and references, then he will be finished as leader. Bridges, as leader, even if he has a clear conscience, must be wracking his memory as to past conversations and comments while knowing the conversations may be in the hands of people with whom he has lost their trust.
And the question remains unanswered: Was Paula Bennett recorded as well?
If her actions are found by inquirers to have led an orchestrated political response to Jami-Lee Ross’ revelations, whether that be at the behest or otherwise of the current leader, then this will destroy any higher ambitions that she may have ever contemplated.
It follows, that if the report concludes that the rot inside National extends to its current leadership, then it may well be that Judith Collins will become the leader of the National Party, unopposed.
Whatever the future holds for the National Party, it is in everyone’s interests that an independent judicial investigation into this National affair be conducted in a spirit of openness and propriety.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Evening Report invites any individual connected to this analysis to have a right of reply.
Footnote: Interview between the author and Jami-Lee Ross on his role as a new National Party MP (August 13 2012):
Headline: Keith Rankin Analysis: Chart for this Month: Leisure by Selected Age Groups
Keith Rankin Analysis: Chart for this Month: Leisure by Selected Age Groups
Once upon a time we regarded market-work as a necessary evil, and we anticipated a future reward, in the form of a leisure-dividend. From the 1850s to the 1970s, the idea of a good life included the notion that there would be a release from market labour; indeed, this was considered the whole point of raising our productivity in work.
The leisure-dividend would be a release well before the ultimate release of death, a release that would enable us to give meaning and identity to our lives separate from the identity etched upon us through our occupations and careers.
Once upon a time we worked to live. We used to see leisure as a solution. Now we live to work. Has leisure become a problem? Or maybe our youth are grabbing their leisure dividends early, as older people forfeit theirs? Leisure now or never might be their motto.
This month’s chart shows that 90% of 65-69 year-olds were free from market labour, but in 2017 only 55% are enjoying such freedom. The decline started in the late 1990s, around the time that the retirement discourse shifted. Fulltime retirement came to be framed, increasingly, as an unaffordable indulgence. The likelihood is that the pattern will continue; in part because for some people the love of money has become greater than the love of free-time, and in part because low and precarious incomes force many people to live extended market lives.
For 55-64 year-olds, retirement peaked at 59% during the unemployment crisis of the early 1990s. After that, as the age of entitlement to public superannuation was raised to 65, a rapid decline in retirement set in. Now 25 years after the peak, only 22% of 55-64 year-olds are retired or otherwise out of work.
Neither of the older age groups increased their leisure after the global financial crisis. Rather older people clung onto their jobs, leaving those in their twenties to pay the unemployment price.
While people aged 25-29 enjoy less leisure now than before, the leisure they do experience would appear to be enforced; it is correlated to periods of high unemployment.
For 15-24 year-olds, their fulltime non-employment, which exceeded 50% from 2010 to 2013, shows what must be understood as a remorseless upward trend. Certainly it is not clear that young people need more education than they did in the past. Non-employment in this age group is now as high as it was in the early 1990s, when the young truly experienced mass unemployment on a scale comparable with the depression of the 1930s.
On the upside, some young people may be taking genuine leisure dividends early, on the understanding that the option of a leisure dividend later in life may be closed to them. Others may have dropped-out of any serous expectation of a 40-year-life of paid labour. The epidemic of mental illness among young people surely must be related to the rising proportion who see little hope of leading a life of economic independence. Older people clinging onto their jobs must have contributed to the reduction of opportunities for unexceptional young people to build careers.
So the general picture is one of older people foregoing leisure dividends. And of younger people foregoing economic independence and the responsibilities that such independence entails. Deep down they know that, as they themselves move into middle-age, they will be expected to produce but not consume the goods and services that their collective elders will demand of them.
Headline: Analysis by Keith Rankin – Correcting the Polls
Analysis by Keith Rankin – Correcting the Polls
In the Scoop report of the most recent (16-19 Sep) Colmar Brunton political poll, we see the numbers adding up to 112.3%. This innumerate reporting – a result of Colmar Brunton’s own reporting method – represents one of the biggest flaws of political polling. It de-emphasises the most important statistic, the ‘undecided’ vote. We sometimes forget that the whole point of election campaigns is for parties to convince undecided voters to vote for them. The final election result comes as undecided voters make up their minds. Good polling will show whether undecideds are indeed making up their minds.
Today’s chart reports the TVNZ Colmar-Brunton polls from July, with undecided (and refused-to-say) voters included. The chart sequences the parties with the National bloc (including New Zealand First) at the bottom, with the Labour bloc above. The most likely pivot point is the Māori Party, placed here between New Zealand First and Labour. Parties unlikely to make the cut are shown at the top.
If all the undecided voters do in fact vote, the critical percentage should be between 48% and 49%. In the most recent poll, the National bloc is showing at 45%, meaning that if 30% of the undecideds support National, Act or New Zealand First, then those parties will be in position to form a government. This should happen if enough of the undecideds are undecided between parties in that bloc. But if the main source of indecision relates to Green versus Labour, then most of the undecided votes will be votes for a new Prime Minister.
The chart shows clearly that most of the support gained by Labour after its leadership change came from the Greens and the undecideds. After that, some support seeped from the National bloc to the Labour bloc. The 13 September poll appears to have been a ‘rogue poll’ (overstating Labour). By definition, 1 poll in 20 will be outside the margin of error.
In mid-September, we saw an increase in the undecided proportion. It’s less clear whether this represents people contemplating a switch in intent from the Labour to National.
My sense is that the final result will be an average of the 6 September and 19 September polls, with undecideds slightly in favour of a change of Prime Minister.
Headline: Keith Rankin Analysis: New Zealand’s Cyclical Growth Contractions
Keith Rankin Analysis: New Zealand’s Cyclical Growth Contractions
In 1939, Joseph Schumpeter published his magnum opus, Business Cycles. He emphasised three growth cycles, Kitchin (about every three years), Juglar (about every decade) and Kondratiev (about five decades). Of interest to us at present is the Juglar Cycle, with its frequency of about 10 years.
This month’s chart averages economic growth (adjusted for inflation but not population). It suggests a very definite problem around years ending in ‘8’. Most observers of New Zealand’s macroeconomic history would be unsurprised. The ‘8’ years, with a few exceptions, have been characterised in New Zealand by contractionary economic conditions.
Interestingly, the next lowest year is not an adjacent year (‘7’ or ‘9’); rather it’s the ‘1’ year. Indeed, if I was to do this exercise for the world economy as a whole, the ‘1’ year would probably be that with the least growth (notwithstanding the global financial crisis of 2008).
Next year is an ‘8’ year. And all the indications – except one – suggest that 2018 will be a repeat of 2008; in New Zealand and in the world. The exception is that interest rates are much lower than they were in 2007, and the monetary authorities in some countries have their heads around negative interest rates. This in my view means that the world economy should ride out 2018 more easily than it did 2008.
I’m less confident about New Zealand. In the 1930s, countries that had made liberal adjustments (in welfare especially, and in monetary policy) in the 1920s (eg United Kingdom, Sweden) did best. Countries that most practiced fiscal ‘soundness’ in the late 1920s – United States, France, Germany – suffered worst.
My sense is that New Zealand’s lucky run this century is about to unravel. If that unravelling starts next year (or even sooner, if too much real estate is offered for sale after the 2017 election), I am not confident that New Zealand’s public sector will be prepared to go into large-scale deficit spending. I’m particularly worried that a new Labour-led government might pursue debt-averse austerity policies in the event of a 2018 recession.
The last years in which Schumpeter’s three cycles had simultaneous downturns – globally – were 1931 and 1981. While 1931 was particularly bad in New Zealand, 1981 was surprisingly OK in New Zealand compared to the rest of the world.
My sense is that the worst of economic times will happen in the decade from 2025 to 2035. 2028 (or 2027) may be particularly bad in New Zealand, as 1927 was. The next eight or nine years are the ones that will be critical. We need a genuine contest of ideas. We should be prepared for the critical consequences of inequality, precarious living, spending collapses, and debt-deflation.
The world capitalist economy grows through a process of debt-leverage. Every 10 years sees a bout of deleverage; sometimes regional, sometimes global. The solution to deleverage in the past has mainly been to quickly re-establish the leverage cycle. It didn’t happen in the USA, France and Germany in the 1930s. After one of the ‘8’ years or ‘1’ years in the next decade or two, the traditional monetary reboot will not work. We need to have a Plan B that is better than the World War that followed the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Headline: Keith Rankin: New Zealand Net Immigration from 1921
Analysis by Keith Rankin: New Zealand Net Immigration from 1921
This month’s chart shows the only factual measure of net immigration: total arrivals in New Zealand minus total departures. It measures annual net passenger flows as a percent of resident population, using monthly data. The most recent figure, for the year ending July 2017, shows a net inflow of 59,842; which is 1.25 percent of New Zealand’s resident population.
Net immigration is a very good indication of safe employment opportunities in New Zealand relative to opportunities elsewhere. It is generally well-synchronised to New Zealand’s economic growth cycle. This century has seen post-1920 peaks, in 2002 and 2014‑16. 2002 clearly followed the New York and Washington terror attacks in 2001. 2014‑16 also strongly reflects security and economic concerns in much of the rest of the world.
The chart marks the two most recent property booms in the Auckland (and subsequently New Zealand) residential land markets: 2003 to 2008, and 2012 to 2017.
The first boom is demarked by the gold spots, the second by the red spots. The general picture is that such booms are unrelated to immigration. In the first 21st-century boom, initial immigration appears to be incidental. As the boom progressed, net immigration fell and stayed low until 2009. This property boom took place under conditions of generally high (and rising) interest rates.
The second property boom got underway in 2011 at the end of a near-decade of low net immigration. Net immigration became significantly high only in 2014, well after the beginning of the Auckland property boom. This boom took place in a low (and sometimes falling) interest rate environment. Neither immigration nor interest rates serve as plausible explanations for the Auckland land-price booms.
When we go back in time, we see that net immigration closely reflects a stuttering economic cycle. In 1929‑30, there was significant immigration from Australia, where the global economic depression struck. This was more than two years before the summer of 1930/31 when it struck New Zealand. During the Depression, both immigration and emigration were very low. A construction boom in 1937‑38 restored high levels of immigration, especially workers from Australia.
New Zealand’s post‑war immigration peak was in 1952‑53. Immigration was also strong in the early 1960s and early 1970s. Robert Muldoon became Finance Minister from early 1967 to late 1972. Difficult years for New Zealand gave way to good years.
It is true that net immigration collapsed in Robert Muldoon’s first trimester as Prime Minister. This is when many later post-war baby-boomers (born in the 1950s) took the opportunity to enjoy their OE, while New Zealand got the world recession later than most other countries. Many of these people came back during Muldoon’s third term government, from 1981 to 1984. In those years New Zealand was continuing to liberalise (many liberal reforms – such as divorce laws, shop-trading hours, and open information – took place then). These were the years when returning New Zealanders contributed to growing movie-making, information technology, and restaurant-café growth. They were also years when New Zealand looked very pleasant from Thatcher’s new Britain and America’s experiment in Reaganomics.
Net immigration was negative during the period of the Lange-Douglas Labour government, a period of rapidly growing house prices despite emigration and high interest rates. Immigration resumed in 1991, when Australia had its financial crisis (ours began in 1987). Rising immigration in the mid‑1990s coincided with another residential property boom, though probably did not cause it. (Rising income and wealth inequality is in fact the root cause of land-banking mania. 1985 to 1995 was the period in which New Zealand transformed from an equal to an unequal society.) The late 1990s saw a general economic stasis, with changes in China and the USA eventually facilitating the growth boom of the 21st century.
New Zealand is a migrant nation. Immigration and emigration have always featured strongly in its economic and social history. Recent events are no exception. However, while New Zealand has a high population turnover, most people who have identified as New Zealanders remain Kiwis at heart.
What of the 2020s? I think that, for New Zealand, they will prove much like the 1920s. New Zealand will stutter as the world economy slowly implodes.
Headline: MIL Video: Message from America Trumps Waterloo – Paul Buchanan and Selwyn Manning
Message from America: Welcome to this the first episode in a four month series titled, Message from America, featuring political and security analyst Dr Paul Buchanan and host Selwyn Manning.
This week we cross to Florida to discuss the vibe on the ground and the fallout for President Donald Trump over the race riots in Charlottesville.
Span of questions:
1) Is this Trump’s Waterloo?
2) Is he realy trying to empower and validate the alt-Right?
3) is he a racist?
4) Given that major corporate figures, senior GOP leaders and military commanders have repudiated white supremecism and indirectly in some cases, Trump himself, what does this mean for his presidency and his policy agenda?
5) Is there a crisis of civil-militaryrelations in the making?
6) Are the jobs of General Kelly (Chief of Staff) and Gen MacMaster (NSC advisor) tenable if Trump does not back down on his suport for Rightists?
7) Nazis openly marching in the streets of the US 72 years after they surrendered in Europe–who would have thought it possibel?
8) is civil war in the US imminent or possible? How large is the alt-Right/neo-Nazi/whiote supremacist movement?
9) As a diversion from the mueller investigation into his campiagn connections with Russia the alt-Right dog whistle-turned-into bugle call has backfired. But what about that investiogation? Where is it in terms of results?
10) Is Steve Bannon the puppet master and is his job safe?
11) With trump increasingly isolated and lashing out at members of his own party, is impeachment or resignation possible?
Headline: Bryce Edwards Analysis: Political Roundup – Bittersweet “Pollquake” for the left
Bryce Edwards Analysis: Political Roundup – Bittersweet “Pollquake” for the left
New Zealand politics has been relatively stable for the last nine years. Public opinion hasn’t moved around much at all, even in the face of all sorts of scandal and chaos amongst the politicians. And when volatility hit other countries, New Zealand appeared to be comfortably unmoved. Everything has now changed. The public is suddenly shifting their support around – and on the left that has meant deserting the Greens and jumping on board Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party.
It seems the election campaign really is making a difference this year. Previous recent wisdom was that campaigns don’t have a particularly big impact on elections anymore. In the recent past, even though polling might have bounced around a bit in the lead-up to election day, political parties have ended up getting similar support to what they had at the start of the campaign.
But, internationally– exemplified by the Corbyn and Trump campaigns – election campaigns have lately turned public opinion around considerably. People nowadays are more open to changing their votes. And the sudden closeness of this campaign has made politics so much more interesting.
Last night on RNZ, I said “It is just an election that is so close, I think we’re going to see much more fascination with what’s happening … we’re going to see a higher voter turnout because people like when there’s actually a contest… This is the most dramatic election I think we’ve seen for many decades” – see RNZ’s Poll puts Greens below threshold as Labour surges.
Other commentators have been saying similarly things in recent hours: “the ‘Jacinda Effect’ has redesigned the electoral map”; “Ardern’s elevation to the leadership just 17 days ago has electrified the contest”; and “the implosion of support for the Greens has transformed the election campaign”. In fact the Herald’s Audrey Young puts it best, saying that “new leader Jacinda Ardern has managed to make New Zealand politics as gripping as the dramas in the United States and Britain that captured world attention” – see: Julie Bishop may have given Jacinda Ardern an extra lift.
Although last night’s poll “is only one poll”, the NBR’s Rob Hosking emphasises the new political territory we are now in, saying “in these days of increased global political volatility, [such polls] can swing violently again… And these are – as we have seen from overseas – volatile times. These polls could swing again, with similar statistical violence, in other directions. There is still a long way to go between now and September 23” – see: Poll shock for Greens, wake up for National (paywalled).
The Greens’ pollquake
Obviously the Green Party bore the brunt of this week’s pollquake. I described their dramatic decline as being due to a “perfect storm” because two factors have been at work – the “Jacinda Effect” and the “Metiria Effect” – which by themselves might not have produced such an extreme slump in the polls: “not only have they had this horrible scandal, it’s happened at a time that Labour is buoyant… People see that Labour is back in the game, that they have a credible leader, and that’s why they’re taking 37 percent of the vote” – see RNZ’s Poll puts Greens below threshhold as Labour surges. See also my interview on TVNZ’s Breakfast: ‘There’s a chance Greens might be wiped out this election’ after sharp poll fall – Bryce Edwards.
So why have Green supporters deserted the party they once supported? Audrey Young says: “They are being punished for many things in the past five weeks but disunity is top of the list, or as leader James Shaw calls it, ‘messiness’.”
And Mike Hosking argues it’s not only Metiria Turei at fault: “What a catastrophic mistake it will be if the Turei debacle sank the party. It is widely accepted now that James Shaw failed the leadership test. He should have cut her loose; by standing by her he looked weak and he and the rest of them are now paying the price.”
Turei herself isn’t quite apologising for her impact on her party. At a public meeting on Monday night in Timaru, she is reported as being “unrepentant”, and saying that although it had been a “sad” few days “she was still confident her decision to discuss her past was the right one” – see Daisy Hudson’s Metiria Turei says admitting benefit fraud was the right thing to do. Turei does, however, say that in hindsight “she would have thought more about the impact on her family before making the announcement.”
As for the Greens’ initial polling plummet, Turei maintained that “It was much less than I expected”, and pointed more to other events as causing the damage: “I absolutely expected to see a drop as a result of the resurgence in Labour”. But she is optimistic that the damage wasn’t permanent: “I’ve been really pleased to see the party continue through the campaign, we’ve got fantastic candidates, great leadership in James Shaw, the party is really rallying.”
James Shaw is also putting an optimistic spin on things, suggesting that the only way is now up: “This is about as bad as it ever gets” – see Vernon Small’s Green Party out of Parliament, Labour surges in new poll. Shaw is ruling out the possibility of help from Labour: “I honestly don’t think we’ll need it.”
Could support for the Greens fall further? It’s possible. First, the Greens have to fight against the “reverse-momentum factor”, in which supporters abandon the party due to the perception they’re no longer a popular or viable option. Second, the psychological effect of the Greens potentially being below the crucial 5 per cent MMP threshold means that some voters will be unwilling to risk supporting a party that might not make it into Parliament. The risk of a “wasted vote” is a significant deterrent for some. Those on the left who want to “change the government’ will now feel safer giving their support to Labour, even if they prefer the Greens.
And although many commentators assume that the Greens have a loyal “core vote”, the fate of the Alliance party needs to be remembered. The Alliance went from 10% in 1996 (down from 18% in 1993 under FPP) to around 1% of the vote in 2002. In both cases – although over a much longer period for the Alliance – resurgent support for Labour and internal divisions were key factors in the catastrophic losses.
The focus will now be on whether Labour will activity help or hinder the Greens. Toby Manhire looks at the possibility of an electorate deal: “Does it mean that a Greens-Labour deal in Wellington Central is on the cards? In the Espiner Scenario – named for the RNZ host who mooted it – Grant Robertson would stand aside in the seat for Greens co-leader James Shaw. All going to plan, that would mean the Greens would go in to parliament irrespective of party vote, on the coat-tails exemption-to-the-threshold rule. Both Ardern and Shaw told TVNZ tonight that was not going to happen. Can that position sustain another couple of polls showing similar numbers?” – see: Greens are goneburger in new poll which shows English and Ardern level pegging.
In any case, Manhire thinks the Greens will not disappear: “The Greens missing out altogether seems altogether unlikely. But their target now will be considerably more modest, maybe 7%. The challenge will in part be to keep spirits up.”
Clearly the Greens will be desperately trying to figure out how to get themselves out of this mess. The most obvious re-orientation would be to focus again on their core reason for being and stated point of difference – the environment.
This is exactly what John Armstrong suggests in his column yesterday, published prior to the shock poll – see: Greens in election no-man’s land after Metiria Turei shambles. He argues that the party needs to look seriously at “the very vexed question of the party’s positioning on the political spectrum.” This means, not only re-asserting their environmental focus, but also ditching the party’s alignment with Labour: “Expressing a willingness to at least talk to National post-election would put a whole different complexion on the election. And no party is currently in greater need of such a change in the election’s dynamics than Shaw’s crew.”
Here’s Armstrong’s main point: “Labour’s resurgence means there is now only one escape route from the cul de sac in which the Greens are trapped. They need to reposition themselves in the centre of the political spectrum so that if they have the numbers to be a player in post-election talks on government formation, they have the flexibility to engage in serious negotiations with either Labour or National or both major parties.”
Headline: Bryce Edwards on Labour’s demographically challenging party list
Analysis by Dr Bryce Edwards – Labour’s demographically challenging party list
Challenging demographic requirements in Labour played a part in causing this week’s difficulties with its party’s list.
Creating and announcing Labour’s party list for the 2017 election was clearly a challenging affair. Part of this difficulty was due to the very strong desire and, in fact, requirement that the party improve the demographic diversity of its caucus make up. The party has struggled in the past to elect enough women – currently only 39 per cent of Labour’s caucus – as well as ethnic minorities to Parliament (as have other parties).
But the party list creation has also been challenging due to other factors, with various incumbents and new candidates being promised high list places. As debated earlier in the year, renegade Maori politician and broadcaster, Willie Jackson was strategically recruited from the Maori Party, in a deft move to attempt to stymie the looming alliance between the Maori and Mana parties, which had looked likely to be a major challenge to Labour’s hold on the Maori seats.
Labour’s new talent on show
For the clearest roundup of who’s benefitted or been disadvantaged by the manovering and various agendas in Labour, see Jo Moir’s Winners and losers: Who is up and who is down on the Labour Party list? She says the winners are: Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Jan Tinetti, Raymond Huo, and Willow-Jean Prime. The losers are deemed to be Trevor Mallard and Greg O’Connor, while Willie Jackson is categorised as an “inbetweener”.
Despite much controversy and internal party drama about its release, there’s actually been plenty of positive commentary about the list. For example, yesterday’s Dominion Post editorial declares it “a relatively strong list” – see: Botched announcement masks a reasonable list. The newspaper comments that “it’s been clear for several election cycles that Labour’s rump caucus has too many MPs who are past it. This list helps some of them to move on, and puts a bunch of new faces into winnable positions”.
Leftwing blogger No Right Turn makes some similar points: “The most obvious feature is the generational shift within Labour – the old guard time servers are out, retired or shoved down, while MPs elected at the end of the Clark years are firmly in charge. There’s also a greater emphasis on new blood rather than incumbent protection, which should help overcome the stale feeling of the party” – see: Labour’s list.
Patrick Gower points out that the Jackson controversy was allowed to overshadow what should have been a story about the great new talent in the party: “It is unfortunate because it should be about the rise of newcomer Willow-Jean Prime. Rather than Willie’s falling star, the story should be about Willow-Jean’s rising one. This should have been a story about how Willow-Jean Prime was an outstanding new candidate with a high list spot. She is a lawyer, young mother, a Far North district councillor. She does it all – and has got it all. She is Maori, likeable, she fights for the North, is battle-hardened after the Northland by-election – and most importantly, she’s real” – see: Labour’s list is about Willow-Jean Prime, not ‘sooky-bubba’ Willie Jackson.
The likely demographics of the next Labour caucus
There’s been plenty of congratulations for Labour’s presentation of a more demographically representative party list. But what will the next caucus actually look like?
The most interesting analysis comes in David Farrar’s Labour’s likely demographics. Any such analysis has to be based on a prediction of what sort of party vote figure Labour will get, and in this case Farrar bases his “on an assumption of them having 35 MPs, being 27 electorate and eight list, representing 29% party vote.”
In terms of gender, Farrar suggests Labour MPs will be 54 percent male (compared to 48 percent of the adult population), and only 46 percent female (compared to 52 percent of society). Farrar comments: “So once again Labour has ignored their requirement to have gender equality. Only at 35% party vote do they get equal number of women and men in caucus.”
In terms of ethnicity, the following categories are likely: European 49% (69%), Maori 31% (13%), Pasifika 14% (6%), and Asian 6% (12%). Farrar comments: “A huge over-representation of Maori and Pasifika in their caucus and under-representation of Europeans and Asians (compared to population).”
Perhaps the most interesting point he makes is that under numerous party vote scenarios, the party will have failed to produce the required 50:50 gender ratio in its caucus. For example, if Labour gets 35 percent of the vote, its caucus is likely to have “a male-female ratio of 23:19”, and if the party gets only 30 percent of the vote, the ratio is likely to favour men, 19:17.
So, has the party actually adhered to its own constitutional rules? It needs to ensure 50 percent of the caucus are women. And if it hasn’t, then could legal action be taken? This is entirely unlikely according to public law expert Andrew Geddis – see his blog post, Why Matthew Hooton is wrong – again.
And in terms of Labour’s improving Asian representation, there might still be cause for unrest. Yes, there are high list spots for Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Raymond Huo, but according to Richard Harman, “the next Asian candidate on the list after them is Philippino Romy Udanga in position 46. There are another six Asian candidates below him, but they are unlikely to make Parliament” – see: Dodging Labour’s Indian mutiny.
Harman reports that “there appears to be trouble within its ethnic base in Auckland”, especially with the withdrawal from the list of former candidate Sunny Kaushal, who explains he withdrew because of “ongoing hostilities and bullying from some of the Party Membership and Hierarchy that I have been subject to”. See also, Harman’s Mallard bottom MP on Labour list.
Demographic wars in Labour
The controversy over Willie Jackson’s list placing has come about because of the difficulty Andrew Little has had in delivering on his promise that his new recruit would secure a top ten list position. Although Little, as leader, was central to the list ordering process, it seems that he was outmanoeuvred in his attempts to get Jackson a more winnable position.
Getting Jackson a higher position was made more difficult because of the new rule in the Labour Party constitution that requires the caucus to be at least 50 percent female. Sam Sachdeva explains: “A further wrinkle is the party’s requirement for gender balance: rule 8.47 of its constitution states the ranking committee must ensure that at least half of its MPs are women, taking into account likely electorate results. Based on current polling, Labour could win 36 seats. However, if it retains the 27 electorates it currently holds (15 of which have male candidates, and 12 female) that leaves space for only nine list MPs – at least six of which would have to be women to ensure gender parity. That is in part responsible for the predicament Jackson finds himself in” – see: Labour list delay reveals cracks in unity.
Little’s promise of a high list place for Jackson was necessary to lure Jackson away from what was seen by many as a sure win for him in Tamaki Makaurau for the Maori Party. And it is significant that Little was not able to deliver on the promise.
As Audrey Young writes, this was a blow to Little’s leadership and authority: “It was not unreasonable of Little to have made the public promise to Jackson. Having lured him away in February from a high-paying broadcasting job and a likely candidacy with the Maori Party, a public statement by Little was a signal to the party that this was his call. It wasn’t a decision made by Little because of the calibre of the candidate. It was a perfectly legitimate ‘Captain’s Call’ made by Little for legitimate strategic reasons in the wider interests of the party” – see: Labour leader deserves more respect from his party executive.
Young says that Labour’s party hierarchy – the list committee and New Zealand Council – “blocked Little’s bid to make good on his pledge, and that “Little deserves more respect from the party’s New Zealand Council.”
According to Chris Trotter, the agenda of gender equality was simply stronger than Little strategic maneuvering with Jackson: “Willie failed to grasp I think, and maybe even Andrew did too, just how firm Labour is – in terms of the party organisation – in ensuring gender equality” – see Newstalk ZB’s Willie Jackson’s list placement down to gender equality – analyst.
Some voters might be put off by the apparent reduced emphasise on meritocracy in the creation of the party list. And for arguments about this, watch Mike Hosking’s Labour’s list another bungle.
But for a defence of Labour’s mechanism to ensure gender diversity in its caucus, Simon Wilson says: “No, it’s not a ‘man ban’. Men are obviously not banned. It’s gender balancing to reflect the party’s desire to overcome unconscious and historical biases, and if you’re worried about that ask yourself if there’s a better way of getting roughly equal numbers of men and women in Parliament. Yes, it does frustrate the ambitions of some male candidates and their supporters. But it will also delight some women candidates and their supporters. And is there anyone who wants to argue our Parliament will be worse off for having more women in it? Didn’t think so” – see: It’s not just about Willie: sizing up the Labour Party list.
And for an even more strongly-worded case for Labour’s diverse demographic project, see Gordon Campbell’s On the kerfuffle over Willie Jackson’s list ranking. He paints a picture of any opposition to such identity politics as being misogynistic and racist, and even accuses the Labour leadership of playing into that: “Willie Jackson has already been brought on board, to show us the fun-loving side of misogyny.”
Campbell actually foresees this latest split as merely the beginning of a gender/culture identity politics divide in New Zealand politics for the election campaign, and that “All up, this year is shaping up to be a testing time politically for the nation’s blokes.” He concludes, “In the end, the likes of Willie Jackson and Shane Jones will cost their respective parties as many votes (especially among women) as they attract. Essentially, Jackson and Jones represent a nostalgia trip back to an era that really wasn’t so great at the time, especially for women and ethnic minorities. Which could help explain why, beneath their surface jollity, both men seem to be so angry.”
Poor political management
Regardless of the merits of Labour’s candidates and their demographics, there’s clearly been some poor political management of Labour’s list. This is spelt out best by Barry Soper, who says: “One would have thought before Labour made public when it’d be announcing its list, it would have ironed out those who could have been disgruntled with it. Yet again they’re spilling their guts in public, being forced to delay their announcement until this morning to give them time to either placate Jackson or to send him up the political creek without his waka” – see: Willie Jackson ranking latest headache for Andrew Little.
In failing to get a high list spot, Willie Jackson seems to have been given the consolation prize of being made Labour’s “Maori campaign director”. But could this be a big mistake? Rob Hosking thinks so: “That leaves him incentivised to pull in a different direction. On the face of it, he has been told to deliver those electorates for Labour, and certainly, they will be critical to the party’s chances of forming a government at the end of September. But the fewer Maori electorates Labour wins, the better Mr Jackson’s chances are of getting into Parliament on the party list. Most of Labour’s Maori electorate candidates are below a winnable position on the list: This is a deliberate challenge to voters in those seats to vote Labour, and not the Maori Party. So, depending on Mr Jackson’s performance as campaign director, this could yet backfire on Mr Little” – see: Willie Jackson’s 21st party fizzer (paywalled).
And it’s clear that Jackson’s integration into Labour – as a candidate and campaign manager – still isn’t accepted entirely accepted by many in the party – see Jo Moir’s Willie Jackson’s role in the Labour Party is still a bone of contention. She reports that Labour MP Poto Williams still appears reluctant to show any support for him, and Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare was less than enthusiastic in his response to Jackson getting the new party job.
Finally, how much does the Labour Party really care about championing those MPs who achieve progress for working women? For although much of the focus of Labour’s party list has been on Willie Jackson and the demographics involved, less attention has been given to the surprise resignation of Labour MP Sue Moroney, who was essentially demoted by her party. For the best analysis of this, see Chris Bramwell’s Labour Party listing early in election voyage. She reports: “RNZ understands she was blindsided by her party. Ms Moroney is a hard-working, tireless MP who pushed hard for an extension to Paid Parental Leave and on closing the gender pay gap. However, she was a huge David Cunliffe supporter and it’s possible that counted against her with the committee that decides the list placings.”
All items are contained in the attached PDF. Below are the links to the items online.
Headline: Bryce Edwards Analysis: Massive and positive victory for low-paid workers
Analysis by Dr Bryce Edwards – Massive and positive victory for low-paid workers
Yesterday’s historic pay agreement for care and support workers is a massive victory for the low-paid, and indicates the unusual political times we live in.
Has it become fashionable to support big pay increases for low paid workers? That’s how it appears, given the almost-blanket positive coverage of the Government’s settlement with unions to increase pay for care and support workers in the aged care and disability sectors.
The agreement involves a significant transfer of money to low-paid workers, and potentially has quite a few ramifications for the rest of the labour market. Yet it’s hard to find any criticism or negativity about this landmark win for workers.
Sainsbury says: “This is a historic day. It’s not often that more than 50,000 low-income care workers get some good news – a 43 percent pay rise. But let’s be brutally honest – the reason the pay hike is so massive is that these workers were being exploited to begin with.”
He goes on to sing the praises of trade unions (“yes, there is still a vital place for groups representing workers’ rights”), and paint the picture of a “David and Goliath battle” in which working class hero, Kristine Bartlett, managed to change history. And although the $2 billion settlement money still has to be found, “that’s no excuse for underpaying human beings. We owe so much to Kristine Bartlett and the other cases the Service and Food Workers’ Union took on; workers struggling for all those years because of the mentality it was ‘women’s work’, doing work we couldn’t or wouldn’t do, for a pittance.
Positive newspaper editorials
This view seems to be shared by all the main newspapers, who have published strongly supportive editorials today backing the settlement.
The Otago Daily Times says “the settlement remains a giant step towards giving some low-paid New Zealand women (and men) the dignity, respect and financial reward they deserve” – see: A giant step for womankind.
The editorial also sells the settlement as positive for everyone, as it is “redistributing the wealth in a more equitable manner. More money to women means more money to families and children (and it is likely to be money spent locally). It also means women have more chance to put money towards vital retirement savings and the like. Surely everybody wins? The message the settlement sends about value (of women, their work and those they look after) reaches far beyond the pay packet.”
Today’s New Zealand Herald editorial says “Nobody will begrudge residential carers the big pay increase agreed yesterday between their union, employers and the Government. The carers, predominantly women, provide services to the elderly and disabled that are not always pleasant but need to be performed with patience, compassion, professionalism and a good deal of common sense. On all these requirements they have deserved to be paid much more the minimum wage” – see: Pay equity deal could lift all low incomes.
The editorial even positively suggests that the settlement could have flow-on effects in other sectors, increasing wage rates, and “If the decision starts to lift all low incomes, it will do a great deal of good.”
The Press editorial gives a good background explanation of the case, and has a simple message: “It is about whether New Zealanders are paid enough, full stop” – see: Aged care settlement an important pay equity milestone. And it suggests that even more needs to be done: “The settlement does not solve all issues that could be said to fall under the umbrella of pay equity and access to work. There are still barriers to working parents and more attention must be paid to making childcare affordable and easily accessible. Workplaces must become more family-friendly for both men and women.”
A victory to celebrate for the low-paid and exploited
Articles that explain the settlement focus on the difference it will make to those workers – especially women – at the bottom of the labour market. Accounts about the plight of those earning around the minimum wage are an eye-opener. In Audrey Young’s article, I haven’t had time to breathe or let it all sink in, says victorious rest home worker Kristine Bartlett, Kristine Bartlett – the aged-care worker taking the original court action against her employer – recounts why this decision “will be a life changer” for the workers.
Bartlett says: “I’ve seen them come to work sick, they haven’t been able to afford to go to doctors, I’ve seen them walk in the rain, I’ve seen them come without lunch, and that’s what breaks my heart.” And “This case is going to be a big life changer. It is going to let them live with a little bit of dignity and hopefully bring them out of poverty that a lot are in.”
A strange National Party agreement?
National Party blogger David Farrar has suggested that the settlement is “probably the biggest victory for unions in the last 30 years” – see: $2 billion and not one extra service provided. And he’s the unique voice of opposition to the deal, saying “I can’t support something that costs $2 billion and doesn’t result in a single extra person being provided care.”
But it’s Farrar’s own National Government that is implementing this huge victory for low-paid workers. So what’s going on?
Leftwing political analyst Gordon Campbell is also bemused by a National Government taking such an apparently radical decision, especially one that furthers the goal of gender pay equality: “”Strange indeed to hear a National Prime Minister not only singing the praises of raising the wages of the lowly paid, but also preaching that this will enable employers to reap future benefits from reduced staff turnover via upskilling their workers and offering them a viable career path. Wow. Can this really be the same National Party that threw the workforce to the wolves of the free market when it championed the Employment Contracts Act? Can it be the same National Party whose first act after winning the 2008 election was to scrap the pay equity unit within the Labour Department? Similarly, wasn’t it an incoming National government that began its term of office in 1990 by scrapping the Employment Equity Act that had allowed for intersectoral pay comparisons?” – see: On the aged-care settlement.
Campbell suggests that the answer may be that this sort of settlement could only actually occur under a National Government: “perhaps only a centre-right government could have pulled off the politics of this large pay rise to workers in the aged care, disability care and home support sector. (A Labour government would have been accused of colluding with its union mates, and of recklessly putting the economy at risk for ideological reasons.)”
National’s unusual move is also examined by Audrey Young, who says “It’s National, but not as we know it”, and asks: “So what motivated National, the party of the bosses, to give some of the lowest paid workers $2.048 billion over five years? And how did the least militant action by a union result in the biggest win in living memory?” – see: A stunning deal that fits the times.
She suggests that National had options to fight the claim, but “That would have been unacceptable to many in the Cabinet, not least because of the essential truth of the claim.” Young points to the likelihood of “Paula Bennett, Judith Collins or Anne Tolley” leading the charge for these low paid women in the caucus, and against the ideology of market forces that has made these workers poorly paid.
She also argues that National’s pay equity settlement can be understood within New Zealand’s political culture, which she says is about rectifying inequities: “These days, in a country where addressing grievances is part of the core of what we are, it would have been unacceptable to have either ignored the grievance going through the courts or to have overridden it with law.”
Young also praises the union movement: “The Government had the good fortune to be dealing with a realistic and smart union. The activism over decades by feminists and unionists helped to shift views about women in unions, women as workers, and pay equity.” Furthermore: “The union was not hung up on dealing with National or back pay. It was not hung up on only union members getting the benefits. The result was the best evidence of the best that unions can do.”
Hosking says: “Tripartite negotiations of the kind normally associated with the drag-down, late-night-whisky-and-sausage-roll meetings in the Prime Minister’s office back in the 1970s have been going on in those back rooms for some time. While these talks were not quite as crudely political as the days in which Sir Robert Muldoon and the Federation of Labour president of the day would emerge and blurrily insult each other for the cameras, there is certainly a sense in this settlement of the government taking a much more hands-on approach to such matters than has been the norm for a generation. And this, really, is the most significant part of the announcement by Prime Minister Bill English and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman yesterday. The government is engaging in something of a ‘back to the future’ approach to such negotiations.”
All items are contained in the attached PDF. Below are the links to the items online.