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Showing posts from May, 2016

New Zealand Inc Exposed

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When John Key was questioned regarding New Zealand's green credentials on BBC's Hard Talk some years ago he focussed on appearances rather than the reality that New Zealand scientists were reporting:

"...you go and breath the air and you walk up a mountain, I'd argue with you that if you don't believe that it's clean and green, then show me a country that's cleaner and greener..."

New Zealand has relied heavily on the images in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies and the environments that our tourists generally experience to enhance our global brand. Appearance is everything. Our reputation regarding corruption, education, health care and social justice (where we have often led the world with liberal thinking) and the provision of public services is largely positive too. The perceptions of a clean, liberal and egalitarian society continue.

We are a relatively small country in terms of population with an abundance of natural resources, both on lan…

Budget Solves Housing Crisis

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On first reading the 2016 Budget did not appear to have a substantial focus on housing, but closer analysis of the spending priorities reveals the Government's strategy.

Housing has created a huge ideological problem for National. The party does not support a large state housing sector and is not prepared to take on the responsibility of increasing the supply of social and emergency housing.

I can imagine the consternation and frustration within National's cabinet in dealing with the growing evidence of a housing shortage and surveys and polls showing increasing numbers of voters expressing dissatisfaction at the Government's performance in this area. I believe that Judith (Crusher) Collins may have come up with a solution. As the restored Minister of Corrections she has been determined to put public concerns regarding conflicts of interest and her close relationship with Cameron Slater behind her as she grows her power base again.

Ministers must compete against each othe…

Homelessness Finally Hits Middle NZ

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It is likely that New Zealand hasn't experienced this level of homelessness and lack of decent housing since the depression. Even in 1905 the importance of state housing was recognised by Richard Seddon and his Liberal Government:

"...alarmed by growing reports of extortionate rents and squalid living conditions in the working-class districts of New Zealand cities, Seddon inteoduced the Worker's Dwellings Act. Its purpose was to provide urban workers with low-cost suburban housing, far removed from city slums and grasping landlords."

Up until 1991 the state housing stock grew to generally meet demand and totaled around 70,000 at peak. If we had continued on the same trajectory of state house building as we had from 1950 to 1990, we would have over 90,000 state houses now and a constant, ongoing, supply. Market rentals were brought in the 90s, around 8,000 state houses were sold off and underfunding has been the reality since. Well built state housing had created the…

The Brilliance of John Key

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Leaders of other conservative governments look at John Key's continued popularity with envy. New Zealand's National Government has the same agenda as most other conservative governments and yet despite New Zealand's richest blatantly continuing to capture a greater share of the country's wealth and government services being increasingly reduced and privatised, the Prime Minister remains popular.

John Key's public persona has managed to capture populist elements that have made Donald Trump so successful but is moderated by a slick PR team and constant polling. The dismantling of our welfare state has been a gradual one but to get to our current point where livable wages are no longer considered reasonable and decent housing is not a human right, is quite an achievement.

John Key's government has managed to continue the work begun by Ruth Richardson and has obviously learned from Jenny Shipley's mistake of not ensuring public acceptance of drastic welfare ch…