BIG NEWS: 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Kingmaker's debate

I've been looking at the minor leaders debates in Parliament that screened on TVNZ7 today. If you`ve never heard of TVNZ7, read this.

You can watch the entire video here, or on the TVNZ website. Or if you prefer, it screens at midnight tonight on TV1.

On the Maori seats: When asked if the seats were a bottom line, Pita Sharples says yes, but he also said that the repeal of the Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act was a bottom line too.

It remains to be seen which "bottom line" is lower should the Maori party be Kingmaker.What we do know is that ACT's bottom line is the scrapping of the top tax rate: Will John Key come out and say thats not National policy?

In a Colmar Brunton poll commissioned by TV NZ for this debate, 37 percent watched the death penalty brought in (58 per cent opposed it), Pakeha was the least privileged people group and Maori the most privileged - and most NZers are happy with MMP. However, accordingto the poll, the country is split on the Maori seats, 48 percent want them, 47 percent don't, and just 28 percent want a republic.


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Why can't some people save for a house deposit?

It must be tough being a childless couple trying to buy a house these days. Especially when you`re earning $130,000 and can't even save 15 percent of that income towards a house deposit. Previously they were throwing "dead" money on rent, now they`re throwing even more" dead" money on interest payments and their loan could be worth more than their home for one reason: They didn`t save.

Heres a couple with a $120,000 income. They pay $900 a week to service a 375k mortgage.That's $48,600 a year. They have a 100 per cent loan because they couldnt save. And here is another couple on a similar income who say they can`t have kids because of their high mortgage.If they had saved just 40 per cent of their income, they could have had a 25 per cent deposit on their home in just two years.

Because they didn't save, they now have to spend more than half their income on mortgage payments.

I`d like to know this. Now they`re paying $48,000 a year on a mortgage, why couldn`t they save at least $500 a week for two years before spending $900 a week plus rates and insurance on a house. They`d then have a $52,000 deposit and much lower mortgage payments.
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

want answers to your uni exams?

Go here. It's a site where NZ university students can buy and sell exam scripts that have scored over 85%. They`ll buy for $25 and sell for $5. It's all legal and profit is made by selling multiple copies of exam scripts. They also have a Facebook site, most of whom are Asians who attend university in Auckland. I won`t be using it.
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Friday, March 28, 2008

Working for Families, marginal tax rates, and $120 weekly tax cuts..

Working for Families has been criticised as a policy that does not provide an incentive to work longer hours because of high marginal tax rates. Particularly those families who are already getting $60,000 and are finding it difficult to pay the mortgage and haircuts, so they want to send the poor wife off to work.

Consider this. A family who is on 60K has three kids under seven.One partner does not work - and stays home with the kids. That family would get a tax cut of about $120 a week if thy were allowed to split their income for tax purposes and wouldn`t lose any of their family support.

But take a similar family on $45k , who get $430 a fortnight in Family Support. Two of their three kids are preschoolers, aged two and four. The stay-at-home parent goes out to work to pay the increased mortgage and works part time for 20 hours a week. She gets $15k - at $15 an hour.

This is what happens: She has to arrange 40 hours childcare for her two kids that are not as school Luckily one of her kids can get 20 hours free. Unluckily it is not free - it costs at least $2.00 an hour. The other child gets WINZ Subsidy but stil pays $2.50 an hour. Total childcare cost is $180.00 a fortnight

Because of her increased income, her WFF payments reduce by $197.00 to $233.00 a fortnight. Total cost so far to go to work :$413.00 a fortnight.

So on 45k the family gets $865 a week. With WFF that increases to $1080.

On 60k the family gets $1153.45 less $90.00 childcare costs: $1063. Add WFF: $1179.50 a week.

That's effectively just $99.50 less tax for working 20 hours because of abatement rates and childcare costs

And some people are actually doing this!

The family would double the net value of their second income if they split income for tax purposes. If 20 Hours Free was actually free and extended to 2 year olds, that family would save a further $90.00 a week and the new employee will make around $300.00 a week - Which is what her pay rate is. ( and no, that was not planned, thats just how it worked out!) .

The family will almost then be as well off as a one income family on the same salary.

Is that why the Government doesnt like income splitting for tax purposes - they`d rather employ childcare workers, promote a a free policy that's not free and redistirbute money to families that are earning more than the average family income of $62,000, so that most families earning under that figure can continue to pay less in tax than they get in Working for Families.

Working for Families should not be scrapped, it should be for those families that need it, not for families who can afford investment properties or who find it difficult to live and budget on $85,000. Ditto for 20 Hours "free" childcare.


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Winstons post election plans

Winston Peters, after the election, wants to work with the party with the most seats. He has since come out and said that he will work with the party the voters tell him to.

If he gets in, that is.

On current polling it`s unlikely he will have to make that choice. One wonders what he`ll do if the left get more seats than the right, but National get more seats than Labour - would he side with the right, and if so would it make any difference?


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Poor schools give students higher marks

Want to get higher marks than you deserve for NCEA? Go to a low decile school and you`ll be internally assessed quite liberally.

And when the NZQA finds out, that`s when NZQA bosses will tell the media that these schools are inflating results because of outstanding teaching.

If that's so, why don`t these same students get good exam results? The NZQA bosses couldnt answer that one. No wonder more students in poorer schools prefer to take papers with 100% internal assessment.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

images of consumption

Here is something pretty cool.

Below are some images of consumption from Chris Jordan's site.Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use)106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on - US figures only.

This depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours

Heres the same image as a close up

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.

partial zoom

actual size

This depicts 170,000 disposable Energizer batteries, equal to fifteen minutes of Energizer battery production.

The close-up image is here. If 170,000 batteries were depicted at their real size, the print would need to be 26x43 feet. To depict one year of Energizer disposable battery production (six billion batteries) would require a print 26 feet high by 146 miles long.

This depicts 200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.

Check out zoom images of this, and the rest of the images here. Very, very creative.

Hat tip Jonny Baker


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roger Douglas explains why he should not be in Cabinet

Roger Douglas is deluded if he thinks his policy is going to assist low income earners, irrespective of what ACT's policy is.
ACT's policy has always been designed to ensure that disadvantaged people have the same opportunity, security and dignity as more affluent people do. ACT's objective is to move low-income people from a system that locks them into state dependency into a system where all New Zealanders can make constructive personal choices. Surely that is basic to the dignity of human beings.
I`m not so concerned about what ACTs policy is designed to do, I`m more concerned what it will actually do and how Douglas is misrepresenting it with the full blessing of Rodney Hide. Douglas wants to remove Working for Families and provide tax cuts instead, but for families who are getting more WFF than they pay in tax, how is a tax cut going to ensure that disadvantaged people have the same opportunity as affluent people? He continues.
What's "hard right", then, about giving all New Zealanders a tax break so they can purchase a health policy like mine and get immediate treatment when they need it?... I also suggested we might rent hospital wards to doctors, provided they could demonstrate an increase in productivity of 50 per cent and pay them a fee for services provided
. Well, that "tax break" is actually a policy providing the first $20,000 of income tax free and that won't be enough to assist low income people in paying a mortgage on a house, which is hardly giving disadvangaged people the same opportunity security and dignity as affluent people do - as affluent people will also get the first $20,000 of income tax-free while the poorest families lose Working for Families payouts.

Douglas wants the rich to get richer and the poor comparatively poorer. That's one reason why he should not be in Cabinet. Most , if not all, average families on the average family wage or under will not be be better off with WFF scrapped and a 20k tax free threshold.



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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Hope you`re enjoying your Easter Holidays - one of the first Easters, if not the first, in daylight savings time. Easter eggs and BBQs: a great combination.

Make the most of your holidays, as in 2011 Easter Monday is on Anzac Day - does that mean you get triple time and two days in lieu if you work that day? Waitangi Day is on a Sunday that year, too.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

I`d rather have Helen Clark as PM than Roger Douglas around the cabinet table

Its true. But Roger Douglas won`t be around any cabinet table anytime soon. John Key said so.
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How can National win the election?

I am of the opinion that the Maori Party will join John Key in Government in 2008 unless public opinion dramatically changes. For the Maori Party not to do so will destroy the pattern of New Zealand's political history as well as governance in this country.

Looking at our political history since 1960, National has won elections resulting in a chage of governmental leadership every 15 years - 1960, 1975, and 1990. Who knows, National may have won in 2005 keeping the 15 year pattern intact had Labour not bought the election.

National "won" the 1960 election in 1958 when the electorate rejected the Black Budget of that year. Since 1960, the government has changed hands to National only with the support of the Maori seats or on the back of a third party vote and therefore a landslide. The last time a party governed without the Maori seats was in 1990. National won with a 9.7% swing - the biggest swing against the Government since 1935.

Just before the 1975 election the Electoral Amendment Act was passed giving Maori voters the option of choosing between the Maori and General roll. It was the first year that Maori MPs won general seats - Rex Austin and Ben Couch for the National Party who won in a landslide. The Values Party was the prominent third party that year, . In the following two elections Social Credit got between 18-21% of the vote, keeping Labour out. Its worth pointing out that in 1984 the New Zealand Party won 12% of the vote, keeping National out in the same way that Social Credit kept Labour out. Social Credit's vote fell more than 60% from 1981 levels but it still got two more seats than the NZ Party.

In 1990 National won again , mainly through a rejection of Rogernomics. Labour was left with just 29 seats. As in 1960, not even the Maori seats or a low third party vote could save Labour, who were toast for just the second time in 30 years.

Since MMP in 1996, all Governments have had the support of the Maori seats when winning office, and in most cases that suport was conditional on that government forming. As it was, in 1993, Labour did not hold all the Maori seats, with Tau Henare - now a list MP for National - picking up one for New Zealand First, who were to get all the Maori seats in the 1996 election. NZF enabled National to stay in power after NZ First took two months to decide who to go into coalition with. The Maori seats were pivotal in the first MMP election.

NZ First lost all the Maori seats in 1999, and if WInston Peters had 63 fewer votes, NZ First would also have been out of Parliament. Once again the Government had the support of the holders of the Maori seats, as all went to Labour, as they did in 2002. In 2005 neither National OR Labour held the majority of the Maori seats, thanks to the Maori Party, but Labour held more than National so the theory holds that of the two big parties, the party that has the support of more Maori seats than the other is the Government in an MMP era. Helen Clark had to cobble up her unusual arrangement in part because she didn`t have the support of most of the Maori seats.

Which brings me to 2008. The Maori Party is likely to hold most of the Maori seats, if not all after the election, and, like all MMP elections, whoever the Maori party decides to support could well be the Government. And so referring to yesterdays post, the Maori Party could well go with National.

But the holders of the Maori seats have done strange things - think 1996. If the Maori Party goes with no-one and decides it won't be in Government or support any of the two major parties it wil bleed support and governance will be in limbo.

If that happens everyone will blame MMP. Particularly this person, which I may have to fisk tomorrow.


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gay couples push house prices up

We have a gay neighbour.

Also, the last place we lived in was next door to John Jolliff and Des Smith, the gay poster boys for civil unions.

So when I read that gay couples moving into an area increases house prices, all I can say is bring it on!. Shihe Fu estimates [PDF} that a rise of one percentage point in the proportion of same-sex couples living in an area raises median house prices by 9 per cent even 10 years later.

But will that convince Australians, who generally don`t like living next to gay couples?

Perhaps gay couples have nicer curtains. Perhaps they are just great neighbours. Whatever, gays are good if you are getting ready to sell, but are bad if you are looking to buy - except of course if you are a gay couple looking to buy, in which case you`ll get a bargain.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Labour will lose the 2008 Election

This post was written on 23 October 2006 and is from my archives. I have put some of the comments to that post in the comments here,and will update this post tomorrow.

If Labour wants to be in power in 2008, either the electorate will have to reverse its rejection of Labour and Helen Clark will need to hand over the Labour leadership within six months or stay on to lead the party to the next election.Both appear to be unlikely to happen, but even if Clark does lead Labour in 2008, history shows that she is likely to lose due to a voter backlash which has already started.

An interesting pattern shows that preceding most changes of Government since 1950 - namely 1998/9, 1990,1984, 1975, 1972, 1960 and 1957, the governing party had a change of leadership within a year of a government change. Shipley rolled Bolger before her coalition broke down in 1998, then her new government lost power the following year. Between 1987-1990 there were three prime Ministers, with Mike Moore becoming PM shortly before he lost the 1990 election. Rowling became PM in 1974 before losing the election the following year to Muldoon, Marshall became PM in 1972 before losing the election that year, as did Holyoake in 1957.

The only exceptions were in 1984 and in 1960 (every third change of government after an election) when the electorate turned its back on the Govt both times, firstly due to the 1958 black budget and secondly to Rogernomics. The next time the electorate turns its back on the Government could well be in 2008 after the election spending and validating legislation, not to mention errant MPs, as the cycle is right for a change of government notwithstanding the probable rejection of the current Government, and even perhaps its leader.

It is interesting that of all PM's since 1972 that led a government change after an election, many also entered Parliament the year their party changed the goverment after winning an election. Bolger (1990) entered politics in 1972, the year National regained power, Muldoon (1975) did the same in 1960, Clark (1999) in 1984 when Labour regained power. However Lange broke the trend, (1984), and won in a by election after Muldoon outed Colin Moyle for homosexual conduct - ironically Lange replaced Muldoon as PM. Also Jack Marshall in 1960 did not enter politics after a change of government.

And neither will the PM after the 2008 election if the pattern continues - meaning John Key - who initially won his seat in 2002 -could be the next Prime Minister in 2008.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Conservation Department lights fires: causes $40,000 damage

The Department of Conservation has destroyed fences, shelterbelts and part of a kiwifruit orchard on a training exercise, causing
$40,000 worth of damage. Apparently exercises in controlled burning are essential for training, according to DOC managers.

I`m sure the training would have gone better if they put out the fire with gasoline and called the Fire Brigade.

Monday, March 17, 2008

PSA registers as a third party

The PSA has applied to register as a third party under the Electoral Finance Act - an act that means registered parties can spend more money campaigning for or against a political party.

Hang on.... isn't the PSA supposed to be politically neutral? The excuse to register is that the PSA is not supporting any political party, they just need to be allowed to promote political ideas. Labour's ideas, that is.

But they won't be promoting political ideas, they will be opposing National's political ideas with state-funded member levies, and if they were truly neutral there would be no need to register.



How 20 hours free childcare could cost more than already subsidised childcare

The Government's 20 hours free early childcare policy is being blasted as a con to low income families who have always got nearly all of the 20 hours free subsidy that the Government provides for childcare - through Work and Income.

In other words for low income families who have kids aged three and four, a Work and Income child care subsidy for "childcare" has now morphed into a subsidy for childhood "education" that the Government is calling free. And some places are asking for more donations for 20 hours free than others are charging as a top up fee over the maximum childcare subsidy - meaning 20 hours free effectively makes you worse off.

I`ll explain.

Low income families who want childcare are eligible for a childcare subsidy from Work and Income and pay the top-up themselves. Higher income families have to pay for their own childcare.That hasn't changed for parents of children who are not three or four.

But what the government has effectively done is taken the income test away from the childcare subsidy, topped treh subsidy up a little for low income families and called it 20 hours free ECE for all. The one distinction is that the childcare subsidy is granted to a limited number of parents and applies to all childcare centres whereas 20 hours free is extends to all parents whose kids go to a limited number of centres.

Formerly a two year old's parents got a subsidy of $3.40 an hour via Work and Income, now their centre gets a subsidy of $4.00 an hour through the Ministry of Education as part of 20 hours free. But the Government not only calls this subsidy free childcare, it calls it free education. But a child of low income parents who has transferred from a childcare subsidy to 20 hours free ECE because he or she has turned three is not transferred from a creche to childhood education. All it means is that a different Government department is paying the subsidy with a slight increase. In some cases there is no "education" provided - it is simply a place to take your kids while you work.In both cases it is parents who are topping up the balance - except the top up is classed as a donation over ECE and a fee over the childcare subsidy.

But you have to shop around - particularly when childcare provider A who opts into 20 hours free charges top up compulsory donation of $2.50 an hour - while childcare provider B refuses to opt in to 20 hours free and may charge the equivalent of $2.12 an hour - which is what we were paying for our two year old over the maximum childcare subsidy provided by Work and Income.

So isn't it great that if you are entitled to the full WINZ subsidy it is possible to pay less in one provider than choose 20 hours free in another. You're worse off with 20 hours free.


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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Britain's Budget

Alistair Darling has delivered his budget. Apologies if you werent aware who Darling is, or that there was a budget. Here's a brief summary.

Prices of cigarettes and alcohol will be up tomorrow. According to one journalist, this means a line of cocaine will be cheaper than half a pint of cider . Tim Worstal fact checks him. In 2009 the child benefit will be increased and in 2010 long term recipients of the incapacity benefit will have to attend work capacity assessment programmes - similar to the failed programmes here in New Zealand that kicked a lot of ACC beneficiaries off ACC onto WINZ benefits. This guy is one of them. He has bipolar disorder.

Also announced: child benefits will increase for the first child, as will child tax credits for low income families - from 2009 - but that wont cover the abolition of the 10% starter rate for income tax, and would mean that 5.3 million of the lowest paid workers - including soldiers, teaching assistants - would be worse off - particularly the childless.

Corporate tax drops 2%, but other business taxes increase. Tax increases include capital gains tax, tax on family business and corporation tax. The government will launch the "savings gateway" nationally with the first accounts available by 2010. Polluting cars get higher taxes - up to £950 a year. Flight taxes increase and although Heathrow airport is to get an extension, that will lead to more runways, more emissions and more climate change - and more tax.

But this wasn`t mentioned in the statement to MPs. The middle class "stealth tax". The earnings ceiling for National Insurance - levied at 11% of earnings up to £34,840 and one per cent on anything above that - will increase to £40,040 next year , meaning anyone on £41,000 will pay around £500 a year more.

Meanwhile, MPs can claim up to £10,000 for a kitchen. Whatever for? MPs dont cook, do they?

Is this a foretaste of the last Labour budget in New Zealand for a while?



Friday, March 14, 2008

Who makes the housing rules?

Natinal wants to know why high income families are able to retain their state houses why poor taxpayers have to wait behind refugees.

At least five state housing tenents earn more than $85,000,while another poor family is asked to live in a camping ground, while down the road state houses lie empty in case refugees turn up. The ministers response: He would like high income earners to move on but there are no rules which allow Housing New Zealand to remove them.

So instead of making some rules, the Minister is just content to provide housing for refugees and fill up our camping grounds with taxpayers on the Housing New Zealand waiting list.

Wonder how namy tenants of Housing New Zealand are not New Zealand citizens?



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tummy bugs from the way gallery journalists frame the news

I've been in bed for too long with a wicked tummy bug but I did know about the news that a whole bunch of retiring MPs- and Peter Brown who probably won't be back in anyway - are going on an overseas junket instead of video conferencing, and I have just learned that the Government has announced its huge ($700 million) fund to promote innovation in the food and pastoral sector.

Guess what is bigger news? The junket, of course..

The NZ Herald said the Junket turns the stomach" It certainly turned mine - and the only trips I got out of it were regular trips to the loo. What the media didn't say was that David Benson-Pope - who is also retiring - isn`t going on the junket because he took on the party machine and lost.

Russell Brown queried why the junket is more newsworthy than a $700 million policy announcment, querying the way gallery journalists frame the news. He should know better. Of course the junket is more newsworthy - particularly when you get Marian Hobbs commenting: "I don't know too much about the purpose. I think it's about MMP. I'm not sure. I think it will be lovely."

Lovely for her. Bet you she was told to shut up after that. And she`s the new assistant speaker. If Russell was charged with writing both stories for a metropolitian daily, he`d expect that more readers would be interested in the junket - surely. Nobody likes their money being spent on MPs' irrelevant overseas trips - purely because these MPs are retiring. I hope the people they are meeting know that these MPs are not going to be in Parliament by year's end, that the people in South Africa are aware that Nandor smokes dope, Dover Samuels has incontinence problems; and Brian Connell has been suspended from caucus. It will break the ice when they meet.

I wonder if Marian Hobbs will get to meet officials from the Hungarian Communist party. I think it will be lovely if she did. She could talk about old times.


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The only way Labour can lose the election

Many commentators have said Labour will lose the election because it passed the anti-smacking legislation - others have pointed to the prostitution and civil union legislation. Still others have said it will lose because it passed the Electoral Finance Act. Many have said it will be because of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and they are getting warmer.

On current polling, Labour will lose the election only if the holders of the Maori seat don't support Labour - either in Government or as a supporting party. And given that the Maori Party is likely to hold at least six of these seats, the Maori Party - a party that was formed in opposition to the Foreshore and Seabed legislation - may decide the Government.

That's because whoever had the support of the holders of the Maori seats post electoral reform has formed the Government.

Why would that change in 2008?

More on this story HERE
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The overhang may decide the election

Post has been updated
Isn't it interesting that it looks like that a party that most of us cannot vote in any of its candidates** could well decide who the Government is - and that party - the Maori Party - could be part of a Government led by a party - Labour - that is rejected by nearly two thirds of the electorate, with fewer votes than the entire Opposition bloc.

That's the overhang for you.

Based on the latest Roy Morgan Poll, showing National can govern alone, if there is a two percent swing to Labour, and if the Maori Party choose Labour, not only do the overhang seats hold the balance of power, the Government will have less votes than the Opposition. Labour will be in Government even though all four parties on the left ( Labour, Greens, Progressives, Maori) have fewer votes than National on its own.

But don't blame the Maori Party. Don't blame the Maori seats. Don`t blame the Treaty of Waitangi - the Maori seats have nothing to do with the Treaty. Don't blame the Maori electoral option, don't even blame MMP. It`ll be the fault of the increasing number of those on the Maori roll for splitting their votes - which in a democracy, they have every right to do.

The Roy Morgan poll came out on Friday giving National 62 seats (49.5%) with Labour 44 seats. Assuming the leaders of Act, Progressives and UnitedFuture retain their seats and the Maori Party get the Maori seats:

National 62 (49.5%)
Labour 44 (35%)
Greens 9 (7%)
Maori Party 7 (2%,4 overhang seats)
Act 1 (1 seat)
Progressives and United Future (0.5% and 1 seat each)

Although National could govern alone, a National/Maori coalition has 69 seats - a 13 seat majority. But if there is a 2% swing to Labour and the Maori Party decides to go with Labour, this could be the horrific result: as Nicholas kind of alluded to.

National 59 (47.5%)
Labour 46 (37%)
Greens 9 (7%)
Maori Party 7 (2%, 4 overhang seats)
Act 1 (1 seat)
Progressives and United Future (0.5% and 1 seat each)

National, Act and United Future get 61 seats (49.5%). Labour , Greens and the Progressives have 54 seats but along with the Maori Party get 63 seats ( 46.5% ). Labour get into Government even though the Labour coalition - not just the Labour Party - has fewer votes than National.

This is more drastic than Keith Ng's example
Imagine this scenario:

Anderton, Dunne and Hide gets <2% party vote between them. Maori Party gets all 7 Maori seats, with 3% of the party vote. We get a Parliament of 125 MPs. National + Hide + Dunne have 62 seats. Labour + Greens + Anderton have 56 seats.
That's what happens when you get a party in Parliament that a huge swag of people will vote for their candidates - but won't vote for the party.Any party who had greater electoral support out of proportion to its popular support will get an overhang. The Progressives would have if polling translated to votes - Matt Robson would never have got his list seat if there were 0.08% fewer votes, United Future came close. Others get more party votes than the parties that get electoral seats, but miss out because they dont get an elected representative.In 1999, NZ First got less votes than the Christian Coalition did in 1996, but Winston Peters sneaked in by 63 votes - and NZ First got five seats.

Unlike Keith, I do not think overhangs are a distortion created by the Maori seats, however such overhangs can be encouraged by political parties that a certain proportion of the population can "opt-in" to vote for their candidates.But what I do know is that whoever wins the fight for the Maori seats will be in Government. National won the fight in 1996 when NZ First, as kingmaker, selected it and National could win the fight again in 2008 if the Maori Party, as kingmaker, selects National. But, basedon this poll, so could Labour with a favourable swing inside the margin of error.

That's because the overhang will decide the Government and the overhang will be the Maori seats. The overhang is an hangover of MMP -so that means we won`t have a hung parliament - we'll have a drunk parliament.

Since 1996, of the two main parties, whoever has been onside with the holder of the Maori seats has formed a government. So, National won't abolish the Maori seats any time soon.

** The Maori party stood 35 candidates in General seats at the 2005 Election. So you can vote for Maori candidates in many General seats but all votes are likely to be wasted.


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Saturday, March 08, 2008

20 hours free childcare policy saves us just 49 cents per hour

Our daughter has just turned three and is eligible for 20 hours free childcare. We were earning enough hours between us to get the $60.00 In Work Payment. We were previously paying for childcare at provider A and it cost us $2.19 per hour. That's because our daughter had childcare for just 16.5 hours a week and we were getting a child care subsidy through Work and Income due to our low income.

So, now that Miss just-turned-three has just turned three, we can have 20 hours free childcare and we`d save heaps.


Our combined hours have dropped due to my partner taking another job and we are now now under the 30 hours, so we miss out on the In Work Payment, even though our income is the same due to her increased hourly rate in her new job.

So while she is working we thought we`d get Miss just-turned-three into child care for three days a week at provider B. We are starting with 18 hours a week. We have to pay a top up "fee" because the Government is not funding its policy. This top up fee is $1.70 per hour. So we only save 49c per hour by going for 20 hours free. That' hourly saving is less than the increased tax we`re paying on a block of cheese compared with the cheese price last year.

But we can't claim the child care subsidy from WINZ for the top up "fee" we don't have to pay, but we won't get the childcare if we refuse to pay.

Interestingly enough, 49 cents is less than the amount we`d get back as a rebate from IRD for each hour of childcare "donations".

No wonder unemployment is so low.The beauracracy is filling itself up with processors of subsidies - while others process the rebate for the top-ups we can't get subsidies for. Is the 20 hours free just another job machine to save families like ours .49c an hour, while rebating us .56c per hour of childcare at the end of the tax year?



Religious fundamentalism and climate change are key issues facing New Zealand's children, says Children's Commissioner

Do you think that climate change, rising religious fundamentalism and security concerns are key issues facing children in New Zealand? Our Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro does.. Thats what happens when you attend too many conferences overseas - one every six weeks - with people who have no concerns about the welfare of Children in New Zealand.
Fundamentalism, across the religions, is an increasing threat to children not just because of the threat to security.... Children’s rights are being negated by the positioning of children’s rights, as opposed to family or parents rights

Ha not only is she anti-religion, she thinks climate change is an issue! What about her big fat carbon footprint as she globetrots the world to attend child rights conferences.She's more of a role model for childhood obesity than for child welfare.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Would Labour love to see wages drop?

The Government recently announced that it wants to keep all teens in school or training until they turn 18. This includes people on the Independant Youth Benefit.

Yet of all the people who are officially unemployed, about 6,200 - more than one in five - are being trained by the state at any one time and are on a training benefit. The rest are on the unemployment benefit. And these figures don't include youth.

So why then has unemployment not reduced since September last year - are many of these trainees beng recycled back onto the dole once training is finished? Are the rest of them in low paid jobs after once being in higher paid jobs. Is Labour happy that these people are now part of the workforce and it is content to see wages drop for a certain sector of the community who happen to have been on a benefit. Would Labour love to see wages drop by churning people from jobs onto the dole into training and out to low paid jobs if it means the participation rate is increasing? Could it be that median wages have dropped for these people in the year to September 2007 under a Labour Government as more re-entered the workforce and others got low paid jobs off teh dole

It's good that John Key doesn`t want to see wages drop, isn`t it.



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Shane Jones says Maori Party will go with National

Loud-mouthed list MP Shane Jones has been listening to National Radio to Pita Sharples, who said that polls such as the Marae poll make it easier to go into coalition with National.

So Jones banged out a media release saying that the Maori Party has decided to prop up National, saying that "Pita Sharples said he would sell out the solid gains made under this Labour Government by going into coalition with National". While it is not particularly helpful bagging your most likely coalition partner, calling them "Maori munchkins' of the "blue-rinse brigade" for something it did not say, it just proves that Labour is not in touch with Maori and as a result Shane Jones - who, unlike Sharples, would never have been elected as a constituent is - angry and arrogant becauser more ane more on the Maori roll are indicating that they `ll give both votes to the Maori Party.

The only way Labour will get a great number of Maori in Parliament is by puting them high on the list. If the Maori party clean up the Maori seats, the Labour Maori Caucus will be list MPs.


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Monday, March 03, 2008

Tonights TV3 poll

The latest TV3 poll has almost mirrored last months Colmar Brunton Poll

Assuming the Maori party win all the Maori seats and Hide, Anderton and Dunne get in...

National 51 % (64 seats)
Labour 35% (44 seats)
Greens 7% (9 seats)
NZF 3% -------
Maori 2% (7 seats
Act 1% (1 seat)
UF .5% (1 seat)
Prog .01% (1 seat)

Key 35%
Clark 28%

Again, National could govern alone.
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National supporters' strange coalition preferences

Polled National Party supporters are not thinking particularly hard about coalition preferences if the latest round of surveys is anything to go by. Nearly a third (30.2 percent) want a deal with NZ First. NZ First are unlikely to be in Parliament on current polling. More than a fifth (21.8 percent) want a deal with UnitedFuture - who is likely to have just one MP. Nearly a fifth 17.8 percent) want a deal with the Greens -and thats higher than those ( 11.4 percent) who want a deal with the Maori Party, the party likely to be the third biggest party in Parliament.

Why twice as many Nats want a deal with UnitedFuture than the Maori Party, and nearly three times the number of Nats want a NZ First deal as opposed to the Maori Party is beyond me. Somebody his going to have to vote for them to give them some numbers - and if that happens they are likely to come from these voters who say they want to vote National.


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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Marae digipoll gives Maori Party a clean sweep

The latest Marae poll indicates that the Maori Party candidates have double the support of the Labour Party in the Maori seats. All the Maori seats.

And, of course, that's where it matters, given that there will likely be an overhang. In the party votes it is neck and neck between Labour and the Maori Party 37 and 38 percent respectively with 15 percent indicating a party vote for National. Interestingly of the 38 percent of Maori Party supporters, 57.1 percent want a coalition with Labour, and 42.9 percent with National.

Helen Clark's response makes me laugh. "We`re going in highly competitive on the party vote".

Well, of course you`ll be competitive if the party that secures the highest proportion of the vote is likely to have all its votes wasted - in terms of the Maori seats at least - and you`re a close second because more and more have deserted your party.

Why would anyone party vote the Maori party anyway if they wanted their vote to count? It won't affect the result of the Maori seats as the proportion of the party vote will likely be less than the proportion of elected candidates.

Helen Clark is walking the plank. A long plank. She appears to have written off any chance of securing Maori seats.

NB: A third of those polled were Maori in General seats, and more Maori in General seats need to vote the Maori Party to reduce or maintain the overhang. My comment on why would anyone want to list vote the Maori party was directed at those who want the Maori Party MPs in Parliament - and elected to use the party vote to achieve that. However, it's not inconceivable for the Maori party to get list seats if enough in General electorates vote for the party.


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Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Greens and the Children's Commissioner don't have a clue

It appears that the Green Party and the Office of the Children's Commissioner have not even read Larry Baldock and Sheryl Savill's petitions regarding child abuse and physical punishment - but they spend a lot of energy telling people what they think of them. More than 600,000 signatures for both petitions were delivered to Parliament today.

Both Offices have told me that they will not be signing Larry Baldock's petition. His petition calls for the Government to address child abuse. They dont want to sign that petition. The Grens reasons were because Baldock has a petition asking "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Does he? Many people in both offices are not even aware that it is Sheryl Savill's petition that appears to have the numbers for a referendum.

The Greens and the Children's Commissioner's Office need to get clued up on what they are protesting otherwise they`ll come across as ignorant idiots.


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