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May, 2009

  1. Lefter 14 ~ Mount Albert may be safe. Auckland no.

    May 21, 2009 by emweb

    You might think the AK Super City idea is a good one. And it may have been, the way the Royal Commission recommended. But National, in its railroading process, appears to have dispensed with most of the better ideas that would have made a super city good for Aucklanders.

    Why is National so damn keen to have an Auckland Super City, you may ask? Think about it – over a million people all safely in the clutches of right-wing, National-supporting toady, John Banks ‘SuperMayor’. No more painful Bob Harvey gibes (go Bob!) or Mangere success stories for National to contend with. National only likes Remuera success stories, you see.

    And you don’t get to vote on the Super City. How does that make you feel?

    After a week of classic faux pas over the motorway extension, we were treated to the bizarre spectacle of a glowing John Key looking almost post coitally smug. Why? Because President Barack Obama had deigned to speak to him on the phone.

    Was I the only one fighting down nausea?

    But I feel like writing a thank you letter to Key all the same. Because he handed us the precious gift of Melissa Lee as a ‘candidate’ for Mount Albert. What a turkey! Who in National thought that just putting an attractive right-winger forward over the hard-working National incumbent in the always Labour electorate was a good idea?

    What a howler. Excellent.

    And I commented a while ago that Labour had better not lose this electorate, and that Phil Goff should step up and sort it out. To his credit, he did so. While I commiserate with MP Phil Twyford, who lives in the Mt Albert electorate and wanted to run as Labour’s representative, I am relieved that we no longer have the spectre of Judith Tizard looming over us. I am looking forward to a much better outcome as a result: Labour retaining Mount Albert (if Shearer can just get his interview nerves sorted out). Plus a rosy possible future that has Phil Twyford representing Auckland Central instead. I find this an extremely welcome idea.

    Frankly, the fact Ak Central went to Nikki Kaye in the last election was a crime. What the hell were you thinking, Central Aucklanders? How is she even a politician? (I know, I know: she wasn’t Judith Tizard.)

    However, the thought of a soon-to-be-still Labour Mount Albert kind of pails into insignificance when you consider it will most likely be subsumed under the right wing umbrella held up by the awesomely crass figure that is John Banks.

    Well, most of you voted National last election, so I feel like saying ‘suck it up, losers!’.

    Unfortunately, I live in Auckland.

  2. Lefter 13 ~ Representation

    May 10, 2009 by emweb

    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, 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?