Four Things Labour Left in a Mess

Helen and David

This election is about who has a track record of delivering the results that matter to New Zealanders. Labour couldn’t do it when they were last in government, and they haven’t changed.

1. The Economy

The global economy boomed in the early 2000s. Despite that, in 2008 Labour left nothing in the kitty, and Treasury was forecasting massive increases in debt, and a decade of government deficits. New Zealand was consuming far more in imports than we produced in exports, with a trade deficit of $5.6 billion. Labour didn’t control government spending, so consumer price inflation was high, causing the cost of living to rapidly rise.

2. Health

While Labour was in charge, health services went to ruin. Between 2003 and 2008 waiting time for heart surgery in Auckland more than doubled. Overcrowding and delays in care caused as many deaths as the entire road toll. Hospitals were allowed to be on “code red” with more patients than they could handle.

3. Unsafe Communities

Labour left a legacy of crime and unsafe communities. They gave up, and admitted defeat in the war on P. Youth crime, and violent youth crime was rising. More people were being killed and injured in stabbings on our streets. Murders, youth violence and domestic assaults were increasing year on year. Prisons were places where inmates ran riot.

4. Education

Under Labour thousands of kids were allowed to leave school with no qualifications or prospects for a better life. A 2008 report showed that 150,000 pupils were failing at school, whilst thousands of teachers lacked necessary skills. In 2007, a third of students left without NCEA Level 2, and a fifth did not even get NCEA Level 1. Violence in schools was rampant. Businesses were not getting the skilled workers they needed out of the education system.

Last Night’s Debate: The Facts

John TV3

Yesterday’s debate was more fact heavy than the last two, so now the smoke has cleared we thought we would give you some more detailed (and verified) information about the issues that were discussed.

Minimum wage and employment

National has focused on creating jobs, and New Zealand has done remarkably well by any international measure in weathering the biggest global economic shock since the Great Depression. There are over 127,000 more people in work since National took office (between September 08 and December 13 quarters).

David Cunliffe believes you can artificially raise wages without effecting employment, he said that there was no evidence that raising the minimum wage increases unemployment, based on US studies.

The problem for Cunliffe is that the minimum wage in the US is much lower than New Zealand’s at $7.25 per hour. New Zealand’s is $14.25. Labour wants to increase it to $16.25 and the Greens will go all the way to $18.00.

Probably the best measure of how high the minimum wage is relative to our capacity to afford it is how high the minimum wage is as a percentage of the median wage. New Zealand does very well on that score with the minimum wage being the 3rd highest as a percentage of the median wage in the OECD (paragraph 19). That suggests that our minimum wage workers do very well comparatively, but also that if we radically raised the minimum wage it would place us in unchartered waters. That’s why the Department of Labour said that raising the minimum wage all the way to the living wage would cost 24,000 jobs (table 1). Treasury actually recommended that National not raise the minimum wage in 2014. National went against that advice by raising it by 50c.


Housing is a complex issue, but generally we know the reasons why house prices are increasing from the Productivity Commission report on Housing Affordability published in April 2012.

The first thing we know is that the tax structure is NOT a factor. The Commission concluded that the tax advantage of property speculators is “much smaller than often suggested”. This tells us that a Capital Gains Tax is unlikely to make housing more affordable.

What did the Commission suggest are the drivers? A lack of land for development, and a difficult consenting process were major factors. That’s why National has worked with local government to release land to build 18,000 houses in Auckland and redevelop or build 5,700 in Canterbury. National has also worked hard on RMA reform (which Labour played politics over and the Greens opposed) and has reduced the cost of building materials by eliminating tarrifs.

The problem with Labour’s ‘Kiwibuild’ Policy to build 100,000 houses (a big round number which works well in a headline, but isn’t realistically how development works) is that it’s a poorly targeted policy doesn’t address the actual supply constraints which experts have identified. As former World Bank principal planner Alain Bertaud said in Christchurch recently: “The solution is to increase the supply of land. I would not bother so much on the construction of the housing itself, I think that can be taken care of fairly easily by the private sector”.


You often hear David Cunliffe talk about the ‘haves and the have nots’, implying that inequality is increasing under National. Put simply, it hasn’t. Brian Perry at MSD is New Zealand’s leading expert on inequality. Here is Brian in his own words. The full report is here:

“There is as yet no evidence of any rising or falling trend in the Gini [coefficient] in recent years.”

“The impact on incomes of the GFC and the associated downturn and recovery has led to some volatility in the index between the 2009 to 2012 HES. It will take another survey or two before the post-crisis inequality level becomes clear.”

5 Key Moments in The Press Leaders’ Debate

1.      Cunliffe has no idea on the capital gains tax

David Cunliffe tried to con us all with a CGT as 1 of 5 new taxes.

But he couldn’t tell us how it differs from the status quo. He refused to say whether a family home in a trust is subject to their capital gains tax. Labour’s website suggests it would be, and that would be a tax on at least 215,000 New Zealand families.

When asked if New Zealand currently had a capital gains tax, he didn’t even know! Under National the IRD is targeting property speculators at a stronger rate than ever.


2.      National’s Economic Management

Cunliffe lost the plot on debt. He attacked National for running up $50 billion but pretended the Global Financial Crisis didn’t happen and ignored the support National has provided to New Zealanders, and that $15 billion of that went to Christchurch.

The fact is, the Christchurch recovery didn’t come cheap, and in 2008 Treasury projected 10 years of deficits had Labour hung around.

3.      The Labour-Green-IMP coalition

Labour misled New Zealanders claiming its policies wouldn’t put New Zealand in debt. They couldn’t even add up their costings – only counting the $18 billion (Cunliffe mistakenly said it was $16 billion)

FACT: Labour will only get into power with the support of the Greens and Internet Mana, who together are promising an additional $18 billion of spending. And that is based on numbers even the Greens don’t trust, they’re demanding Labour have their figures independently audited.

4.      Cunliffe the Preacher Man

If nothing else showed Cunliffe’s lack of Prime Ministerialism, about an hour in, Cunliffe knew he was losing and went for Destiny Church-styled preaching as wheels began falling off the wagon. Sadly for Mr Cunliffe, the audience wasn’t joining in this hallelujah chorus!

cunliffe angry

5.      Key understands what New Zealanders really want

John Key backs workers. In the midst of all of Cunliffe’s preaching and the media’s obsession with dirty politics Key punched out a great line which shows why he’s one of NZ’s best Prime Ministers ever. In response to Cunliffe’s plan for 5 new taxes, Key said, “I reckon NZers work damn hard for their money & they can spend it better than the Government”. Amen.

key quote

Everything You Wanted to Know About the PREFU

Bill English

Yesterday Bill English, Minister of Finance released the PREFU. NZ Young Nats Policy Chair Nick Cross explains what it is, and what it means:

In order to create open and accountable government in New Zealand, the Minister of Finance is required by the Public Finance Act to release the Pre-Election Economic and and Fiscal Update (PREFU) which sets out updated forecasts about key economic indicators. Yesterday Bill English released PREFU 2014

What does it tell us?

PREFU 2014 tells us that National is still very much the party of credible economic management. The economic growth forecast from March 2014- March 2015 has been revised down very slightly from 4% to 3.8%, still some of the highest growth in the OECD. The surplus as projected by Treasury is set to hit $300 million. Tax revenue is expected to rise from $61 billion this year to $77 billion by 2018.

Why did these changes happen?

Largely because of slightly lower than expected commodity prices in dairy and timber. However this fall is expected to be a short term fall in overseas demand as several countries look to reduce inventories and does not reflect any structural weakness according to Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf.

What does it mean?

It means that, on the latest figures, the economic recovery is still very much on track to take the New Zealand into strong growth. What I found most fascinating is how much new tax revenue this promises for the government, making Labour and the Greens new ‘tax the rich’ promises of $1billion more tax revenue seem insignificant. It suggests that business driven economic performance, and not new taxes which harm business, is the path to providing better social services.

National’s Cycleway Policy

Gerry and Bikes

John Key and Gerry Brownlee have announced National’s cycling policy today. $100 Million will be invested in urban cycle infrastructure in New Zealand’s main centres.

National recognises that commuting by bike has health benefits and takes pressure off other transport networks, but says cycleways in our largest centres are fragmented and offer varied levels of service.

“Many people cite safety concerns and a lack of infrastructure as reasons for not cycling, so we’re going to begin building cycleways to a standard that delivers real incentives for commuters to make a change.

“Building more comprehensive cycling networks will require new infrastructure to connect existing routes and expand the network into wider urban areas.

National is the party that is building the transport infrastructure to ensure people can reach their destinations quickly and safely. Better cycleways will mean that commuting by bike is a safer, more efficient option.

John Announcing

National Weekend of Action – How you can help.

Weekend of Action Cover PhotoB

This weekend is the Young Nats’ National Weekend of Action, a grassroots initiative by the Young Nats to get out on the campaign, make contact with National Party voters up and down the country and make sure we turn out the highest number of voters on September 20. We need to give John Key and our team at Parliament another three years to build a stronger, more confident New Zealand.

If you want to help, there’s going to be a range of different campaign activities on offer, in almost every part of the country. If you’ve subscribed to Young Nats emails in the past, you are sure to receive more information in your inbox, but here’s a summary.

Northern Young Nats will be visiting the Northcote and East Coast Bays electorates on Saturday [RSVP link], and Hunua and Papakura electorates on Sunday [RSVP link].

Central North Island Young Nats are road-tripping to Coromandel electorate to help Scott Simpson rally votes for National in Whitianga and Thames [RSVP link].

Lower North Island Young Nats will be campaigning in Rongotai on Saturday [RSVP link] and joining the movement for a Fresh Face for Hutt South, helping Chris Bishop on Sunday [RSVP link].

Canterbury Westland Young Nats will be heading into Christchurch Central, Waimakariri and Port Hills. To get the details, email

Southern Young Nats will be in Dunedin South getting out the vote for National and Hamish Walker, more information here [RSVP link].

Aussie Treasurer Envies Kiwi Economy

Joe Hockey

The Australian has reported that Joe Hockey, the Treasurer of Australia envies New Zealand for our falling jobless numbers.

Joe Hockey frequently admits he’s a little bit jealous of our cousins across the ditch, in an economic sense at least.

The treasurer’s green eye probably went an even deeper shade of emerald after New Zealand’s latest employment figures showed their jobless rate tumbled to a five-year low of 5.6 per cent in the June quarter from a revised 5.9 per cent previously.

Australia’s unemployment rate is at 6.4% and rising. Ours is 5.6% and falling Employment growth is faster here than across the ditch, and it’s down to the work done by John Key and Bill English.

The release of the NZ figures coincided with a speech by Mr Hockey to the national conference of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

He said New Zealand has stolen the advantage from Australia during the past few years by combining domestic structural reforms with newly negotiated trade opportunities in Asia.

“As a result, they have falling unemployment, rising living standards and a budget that is coming into surplus,” Mr Hockey said.

Faced with a hostile Senate over his first budget, Mr Hockey also said he was “quite jealous” that NZ Prime Minister John Key has to deal with only one parliamentary chamber.

Even so, Mr Key and Finance Minister Bill English are showing the world how economic reform should be done.
And it has not been achieved through “luck or complacency”.

“There is no she’ll-be-right attitude,” Mr Hockey said.


Meet the Candidate: Jono Naylor

Jono Naylor

Jono Naylor is National’s candidate for Palmerston North. He has served Palmy as its Mayor for the last  7 years, and iPredict gives him even odds to take the seat off Labour. Before local politics, he was a social worker and a counsellor. He’s also a musician who once sung the national anthem at an international netball test match. We had a few more questions to ask:

What is your number one policy goal for your time as an MP?

Creating as many jobs for New Zealanders as possible, thereby improving the chances for New Zealand families to thrive.

You’ve been the Mayor of Palmerston North since 2007 – what’s the best thing about Palmy?

Across the spectrum of opportunity, affordability and accessibility, it is clearly the best place in New Zealand to raise a family.

Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t already know?

The band I have been a part of for the past year and half have just released an EP. You can download it at

What made you want to stand for National? What would you say inspires you politically?

I am motivated by improving people’s well-being. To achieve this we need a good balance of economic and social development. The National Party is the only party that has the policies and people capable of delivering the kind of New Zealand I want to live in.

Meet the Candidate: Todd Muller

Todd Muller

Todd Muller is the next MP for Bay of Plenty. He was Waikato Young Nationals chairman in 1990, and President of Waikato Student union in 1992. Since then he’s worked in great New Zealand businesses like Zespri and Fonterra. We got to know him a bit better:

What is your number one policy priority for your time in Parliament?

I want to ensure conditions for successful exporting to the world are constantly improved and enhanced. We are a trading nation, so open access to world markets plays to our competitive advantage of producing safe and nutritious food back up by world class innovation and manufacturing excellence.

Having worked in agribusiness, what do you see as the role of primary industries in 21st century New Zealand?

Helen Clark once said she thought Agribusiness was New Zealand’s sunset industry. Well, we would have had a long dark night of economic suffering over the last 6 years if it wasn’t for those same agribusinesses! Primary Industries are the backbone of this country – for this to continue we need to ensure the environment for success is maintained – stable economic management, investment in market focused innovation, a balance of environmental and economic success, and increased investment in our people.

What is something about you that we should know, but don’t know already?

With Peter Douglas (formerly Prime Minister’s Office, in the Bolger years) we bought Nelson Mandela a batik shirt in a Maori design which the great man wore in NZ. We then both got to meet him and he personally signed his Long Walk to Freedom autobiography for us

What makes the Bay of Plenty a place you’d like to represent?

It truly is one of New Zealand’s special places. Productive heartland that can grow anything well, due to its climate, stunning beaches, beautiful coastline and harbour, and great people – many who have moved from elsewhere to make something for themselves and their families. I like the mix of young making their way in the world, intergenerational and new entrant farming and our more mature residents who have chosen the Bay for the next stage in their life’s journey. The Bay is still primarily made up of smaller communities that are welcoming and friendly to one another, and I like that about my home town.

Meet the Candidate: Andrew Bayly

Andrew Bayly

Andrew Bayly is National’s candidate in Hunua. His career before politics includes military service, farming, business ownership, accounting and finance. He has served in the British Parachute Regiment, and owned an award-winning horticultural recycling and compost business. We wanted to know a bit more about him:

What is your biggest policy goal – what do you want to change in New Zealand?

Last week, during John Key’s visit to the United States, the Chairwoman of the US Federal Reserve referred to our economy: “I’ve just heard a lot of very good things about [it]… it seems to be doing extremely well.” Indeed, growth has climbed to 3.8%, primary exports are at record highs, Crown debt is under control, and we are bringing expatriate Kiwis home. This is an incredible start, but it must be sustainable over the longer term. I aspire to be a part of this team that continues to create an environment where businesses can thrive and investment in health, education, infrastructure and housing follows.

In the Hunua Electorate, I am focused on ensuring the growth in new housing areas is well managed – it needs to be responsible growth. New housing developments should occur where it is appropriate and when they are linked to infrastructure such as water, roads and train services. When you get this balance right, you have a recipe for sustained growth that we can all feel comfortable with. In essence, it is about having vibrant communities that are well connected.

You walked to the South Pole a couple of years ago, what was the most memorable part?

Actually stepping off the Ilyushin aircraft onto the snow! It was the result of many years of planning and great to be finally in a position to climb four mountains (one unclimbed previously) and drag a sledge 112 kms to the South Pole. The other revealing aspect of visiting Antarctica is the visual assault on your eyes due to the exceptionally clear air – what looks like 5 kms away, is in fact 20 kms. In Antarctica this means you need to be very careful not to over-estimate distance and times, especially when you are high up on a mountain.

What is something about you that we wouldn’t already know, but should?

I have an identical twin brother – so be careful about which one you are talking to!

Who is someone that you aspire to be like in your political career?

Winston Churchill. The patience he displayed in his political career and command of the English language certainly distinguished him amongst his peers. His other interests and career also made him a much more interesting (and robust) character.