Who do they serve?
According to Statistics New Zealand, the working age population of New Zealand was 3,229,200 (in the year ending March 2007). Of those, 2,126,200 were employed.
We’re supposed to be a nation of small businesses, as I said in Lefter 12 (The King of Bongo, below), but 53% of new small-to-medium NZ businesses fail in the first three years, according to a Westpac survey.
Westpac’s analysts put it down to poor financial literacy (this was in 2003). Yes, exactly. I’d add ‘crap management skills’ to that indictment. Anyway … the National Party traditionally appeals to, and finds support from, business people, and from those running small businesses, including those in the farming sector.
But how many people is that? In 2006, 1,511,250 New Zealanders (so around one-and-a-half million) were in paid employment – ie, they were employees. Another 234,954 were self-employed and without employees while 142,881 were officially listed as employers.
In other words, about 76% of the listed workforce consists of people working for others. So going by this very crude calculation, National’s policies traditionally represent about 24% of the NZ workforce.
Of course, more than 24% of the electorate voted them into power.
Another way of looking at things would be to look at who got tax breaks. National appealed to New Zealanders’ greed with the promise of tax breaks with the implication – lapped up, sadly – that Labour was holding back from passing on their just rewards. Assuming that we’d rather have $10 bucks to spend at the Warehouse but don’t need a government-built road to take us there, perhaps.
So when National passed on those ‘just rewards’, the tax breaks only went to those earning over $44,000 per year.
Well, according to payscale.com, an average NZ office administrator earns $37,900, a graphic artist/designer $40,622 and a Personal Assistant squeaks over at 44,069. But if you’re about to go onto a nine day fortnight or a four-day week … goodbye, tax break.
Last November, the salaries of MPs, ministers and the prime minister were raised by between 4% to 4.8%, by the way. So cherish the luxury of workers being able to grant themselves their own pay rises while they rule over a country going ever deeper into recession. Of course, that luxury goes only to those holding the reins of power, and of the economy, I’m afraid. Including certain board members whose callous disregard for the well being of others has placed them in positions of financial power.
Great, though – the average wage has been increased to $12.50 an hour. Hoorah. That’s $26,000 a year for 52 x 40-hour weeks. For 60-hour weeks (not uncommon), that’s $39,000. No tax break for you, hard worker.
Note that the average hourly earnings are much higher than this minimum wage, at $24.33 per hour. That’s a tidy $47,443.50 a year for a common 37.5-hour week, which squeaks over the tax break line, but the average figures are skewed by all those mega-earners out there who are firing people like crazy to protect their own privileged positions. Not to mention rising unemployment; it’s up 2% over the last three months. Not to mention those high earners also got much bigger tax breaks from National.
Does your government represent you?