Election Double Shot Interview: Bill English argues NZ economy needs the stability of National to keep growing sustainably

By Bernard Hickey

Over the final two weeks of the campaign I'll be interviewing the major party finance spokesmen, including National's Bill English, Labour's David Parker, New Zealand First's Winston Peters and Green Co-Leader Russel Norman.

I started by asking National's Finance Spokesman Bill English about the high New Zealand dollar, which has been a factor driving down the export share of the economy from 33% of GDP in 2008 to a forecast 26% by 2018.

English said the currency was not something the Government could control, but it could take some actions to reduce upward pressure, including constraining Government spending and getting the housing market working more efficiently.

"Probably one of the most common complaints I get is from areas outside of Auckland saying: why do we have to have an Auckland interest rate and an Auckland exchange rate? Why can't you get that housing market under control?" he said.

"It is a pretty critical variable for the New Zealand economy. It's our largest asset class. It's not a flexible market. It's starting to improve," he said.

English agreed the 30% plus increase in Auckland house prices since 2009 "could have been better," although he noted the Government had commissioned the Productivity Commission's inquiry into Housing Affordability that was published in 2012.

"Four or five years ago no one had really got to grips with what had driven the previous cycle where it doubled up to 2009," he said, pointing to the Commission's focus on increasing housing supply.

"That's enabled us to bring in Special Housing Areas, because we could see the planning system was gummed up, particularly in the transition in Auckland -- a 7,000 page Unitary Plan and no one understands it. You can't tell what that's going to do to the housing market. So we've gone over the top of them," English said.

RMA changes

Questioned about the progress so far, he said the Government had created the opportunity and "it's starting to flow," although he noted there was a lot still to do.

English then questioned New Zealand's planning system more broadly, arguing people did not understand it, "including the people who are doing it."

National planned to do more if re-elected to improve consenting processes and increase land supply for housing.

"After the election, there's a Resource Management amendment bill that standardises a lot of the planning processes. That could be quite a step forward. We'd like to do a lot more intensive look at the incentives on councils and council officers and the way they make decisions that restrict the availability of land -- the political pressures to restrict densification within cities (which are) pretty strong here in Auckland, and the interaction with infrastructure."

English said the Government and councils needed to better understand why some Councils, such as Waimakariri and Selwyn in Christchurch, were keener to build infrastructure for new housing than others, such as Auckland.

'An overlap with supply'

I then questioned English on National's plan to double first home buyer subsidies for new homes, which risks adding more demand before the supply has been built.

English said there was an overlap with supply and the package was designed to encourage the building of new homes.

"It's a bit like the argument with the accommodation supplement. You've got to work both sides of the equation," he said.

"You have to support them to be able to pay the bills, at the same time as dealing with the long term issues that reduces the Crown's fiscal exposure to this stuff."

English said buyers would make their own decisions about whether a home was affordable or whether they might be biting off more debt than they could support.

The best contribution the Government could make was to take fiscal actions to keep interest rates lower for longer and to deal with the longer term supply issues.

Capital gain less likely

English said there were structural changes meaning big capital gains may be less likely over the next 20 years for buyers today than those, such as himself, who bought houses in the early 1980s.

Interest rates had fallen a long way, which had driven up capital values and could not be repeated to the same extent, he said.

"The other thing is the availability of leverage. In the 80s it was 40%. The Baby Boomers have enjoyed a ride where capital values were driven up partly by the availability of credit where you could borrow 100%. Both of those things have peaked. No regulator or Government is going to let you borrow more than 100% like they do in Holland," he said.

'CGT would hit producers'

I then asked English about the Labour/Green proposal for a Capital Gains Tax and their claim it would shift activity from speculative investment to productive investment.

English said a CGT would hit the productive sector too, given it applied to farm land and to other business assets.

"I think you're seeing an unravelling of the idea in a way that was entirely predictable," he said, pointing to reviews by both Labour's Michael Cullen and National itself which had decided against a CGT.

"By the time you do all the political carve-outs, you end up with a mish-mash of a tax that's relatively easily avoided, quite complex, and doesn't generate as much revenue as you'd think," he said.

"Labour are just going through the process of finding that out."

NZ Super sustainable?

I then asked English about the forecast growth in New Zealand Superannuation payouts to almost NZ$14 billion by 2018 from NZ$7 billion when National was elected in 2008.

He said Labour's proposal for a staged delay in the retirement age produced relatively small gains.

"I think we spend a bit too much time with endlessly negative rhetoric about something that can't be controlled, which is the population is getting older," he said.

Investment-led approach in Education and Health too

The Government was therefore more focused on controlling costs in areas such as Social Welfare and Health, where costs could be more easily controlled.

English said the Government would look to extend its investment-led approach in Social Welfare into other areas such as Education and Health, particularly in areas such as earlier reading recovery investment and diabetes prevention.

"If we get re-elected in Budget 2015, we would be supplying some of the money directly to groups like vulnerable children," he said.

He suggested the Government could put some of the funding up in a contestable process where outside agencies bid for funds normally spent by Government departments.

"Certainly the prospect that it may not (directed to departments) is getting them motivated," he said.

Inequality debate

English rejected arguments from Labour and the Greens that income inequality had worsened over the last 15 years, pointing to the MSD Perry report showing inequality broadly flat since the mid 1990s.

"We've focused on the long term drivers of persistent deprivation -- lack of education, violence and welfare dependency," he said.

"I don't think you'll see agreement for the sort of big cash transfers of the sort proposed by the Greens and Labour until people have confidence that the Government machine that's there to support people has got the balance of responsibility and support right."

'Less hairy chested'

English rejected suggestions National had 'wasted a good crisis' by not making more radical reforms after 2008.

He said New Zealand had a history of making major reforms during crises that were subsequently wound back because they lacked broad public support.

"A lot of arguments were lost in the long run. We've taken a different view -- less hairy chested, more focused on bedding in real change over time so that it sticks, and that's a style you could expect to continue if the current John Key-led Government was re-elected."

Here's the first Election Double Shot recorded with Winston Peters, in which he argues for a new monetary policy, foreign buyer controls and migration limits.

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for Interest.co.nz's special election policy comparison pages here.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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50 Comments

In other words if you're not a baby boomer sitting on a nice bunch of tax free houses, NZ's pretty much going to be a waste of time for you, under this government.

Please advise the party I should vote for that will undo all the all the baby boomer gains and give money to me, Generation Y.

Any vote will do mate as they are all different versions of the same growth agenda. Throw a dart. The only vote that counts is a non vote as if they get less than 50% turnout then they have lost their dubious foundation with which they govern.

Z us baby boomers have done it hard. Life was very sparten and basic when we grew up. We certainly did not have it all given to us on a plate like your generation.

25% unemployment for the under 25's, yeah they have really got it good.

Zoltuger , just listen to the policies, the current government are going out of their way to help only the people that are already rich, but there is nothing there for the rest of the country, and they have absolutely no new polices at all, it will be more of the same.
This is as good as it gets, and I suspect it will probably get much worse, NZ's economic growth is being artificially increased a great deal by the Christchurch rebuild, when that starts winding down there will be almost nothing, other than a heavy reliance on Diary farming, and if that hits the wall NZ is in very serious trouble.

the guy doesn't even understand how vertical integration works.  that's instant no way for finance minister

Aaahhh!
 

But Bill comes across very well (spinning like a top) - that to nzcoolie being the essence of the Finance Minister's job.

Boredom sets in so easily just looking at Bill

So speculator days of capital gain crazy days coming to a close. Shock horror investment ...property will have to go back to crazy  days of "yield" driving value, rather than interest only for capital gain. Surely that would be a good thing.

capital gain crazy days coming to a close
 
Dream on - English has not the faintest idea of what is going on - his utterances are for public consumption by the hoi-poloi - can't upset the sacred cows
 
In my neck-o-the-woods, last saturday was the first day of the spring property selling season. A house 3 doors up the road went to auction. I didnt even know it was being sold. Rarely go past the place. Happened to be going past on my m'bike at 1:30 pm, there were about 50 people milling around outside and spilling onto the road, I had to navigate through them
 
Went home, parked the bike and wandered back for a looksee. Checked the auction board. Auction happened at 11:30 am, 2 hours before, yet here were a lot of the crowd still hangin there
 
Asked if it had sold - yes was the answer spoken in awe - how much? -  I nearly fainted 

... does it work both ways ... if the market has peaked , and you sell the rat-nest at a loss , can you socialise your capital loss by claiming it back off the IRD ?
 
Neato !!!! .... buy anything with no regard ... a'la the bond holders of Sth Canterbury Finance .... bloody neat idea that .... let the government ( i.e. the taxpayer ) bail you out of your greed or stupidity .... Yeeee-haaaaaaa !!!!!!

It's not a rats nest thank you, and I'm looking forward the equity I've been paying taxes for...
A bit of CLosstax refund would just be lovely...I told you I'd bought this one intended to resell...

Im not convinced this is true of the secondary cities with median prices around the 300k mark, which have had no cap gains for 8 years now.
Think what this means in the context of kiwisaver, and in particular, the new proposed kiwisaver + grants nats are promising.
As soon as 'sentiment' moves in these cities to anything close to what auck has had past few years, we will see MORE POTENTIAL buyers competing against each ofther than ever before, as anyone with a job + kiwisaver will have there 10 % dep locked and ready to go to 350k.
What more, you can buy neutral, even positively geared properties in these regions right now, making money while you wait for the auckland catch up to happen

"The other thing is the availability of leverage. In the 80s it was 40%. The Baby Boomers have enjoyed a ride where capital values were driven up partly by the availability of credit where you could borrow 100%. Both of those things have peaked. No regulator or Government is going to let you borrow more than 100% like they do in Holland," he said.
Kiwisaver policy is just the same as extending lending to 100%, but with limits (e.g house price cap, multiple of kiwisaver).
5 years kiwisaver, 5k free money plus now own + emply + crown contr. = 30k plus for a modest earner. They can get 300k mortgage on this at 10% dep. Essentially the same as:
100% mortgage up to a value equivalent to 10x (your kiwisaver + 5k)

Lets not go over this again Gordon...go for a walk its better for your health than trying to convince us life was spartan in your times on the 1/4 acre section.

Wow , there are some clueless idiots on this site, here are some indisputable facts 
 I have news for anyone who thinks  it was easy for baby boomers to buy , let alone service the debt on a home between 1976 and 2006.

  • Interest rates spent most of that time in double digits .
  • We had to save to get a deposit and money was really tight
  • Holidays  in Fiji /  Gold Coast /  or Cruise liners were rare often once -in -a -lifetime  events
  • Dinners in restaurants were for special occasions only
  • We used the phone seldom because of the cost .
  • We turned off the lights to save the cost of electricity
  • We walked or cycled more or used the bus becasue the cost of petrol was a higher % of wages than it is now
  • Building Societies actually  sent someone to value the house before lending you the money .
  • Their lending  criteria and rules were onerous to say the least , many applications were rejected
  • Wages were terrible
  • Taxation was worse 
  • Structural adjustments meant you risked losing your job

Now we have

  • Lowest interest rates in 50 years
  • Lowest personal tax rate in this generation
  • Multiple ( and fully booked)  Daily flights to every holiday destination imaginable
  • Huge sums avaialbe on credit cards
  • Cheapest petrol price/ litre as % of average weekly wage  , ever
  • Easy credit for mortgages , just do it online !
  • Highest wage rate , ever
  • Young families eating out up to  3 times a week
  • Highest rate of private car ownership , ever
  • Close to the lowest unemployment rate ever ,  other than during wartime and post-war years  

FACT : No generation of Kiwis has ever had it as good as it is right now
FACT : You cannot spend your way to personal financial success and  prosperity , there are sacrifices to be made
And everyone should quit complaining
 

Wow. There are some valid points there but a lot of them miss the point, and come to the wrong conclusion. Yes, young people spend more of their money going on holidays and enjoying themselves. Yes interest rates are lower and wages are higher. But it is all about the marginal change.. as baby boomers got older, barring short periods of economic downturns, everything was getting better. Interest rates generally went lower, wages went higher and assets followed suit. In our case, interest rates cant really get much lower. Wages are not keeping pace with asset growth. Jobs being created (here and around the world) are generally lower skilled, lower paid roles. And once we have scrimped and saved to get on the property ladder, the gains are going to be much lower. Could a teacher hope buy a house today in Auckland like that same teacher could 30 years ago.. not a hope in hell. So how does that teacher have it better then all that have gone before them? Because they can buy more petrol and have a nice holiday? I think not

sadly Boatman, you've listed the reasons for and against in the wrong columns.
I'm not disputing it was hard, and worse stuff often wasn't available so you had to make do.

But.
- Now you aren't allowed to make do, you need to buy certificates to prove it's perfect.

- Wages were low, and prices were cheap, things weren't as far apart - you were expected to get to Wanganui every day from Palmy North, or Dunedin to Alexandria in a day, let alone many times a week.  Prices are even cheaper now...but that's because there's less margin due to competition on price and the aforementioned logistics mean that the same factories can dominate much more of the market - much harder to have retail segmentation (hiring staff in each) when everyone imports nearly identical product from the same foreign manufactury.

- Inflation was higher... and the economy was growing faster.  todays borrowing would be small compared to income in 5 years.

- Cheapest petrol...less people on average wage.   Cars ARE way cheaper though...even if registrator and WoF are killers now.

- Young families eat out a lot...because often it's just as cheap as home prepared meals, and since it often requires two working parents to support a young household (instead of one) the time and skills often aren't available.  How many low to average wages people could afford a single income household then?  A double income was a major financial boost.  Now it's the norm..as is double student debt.

- Low unemployment, because many other "catchcages" have been invented.  Much higher sickness and invalid beneficairies, way more ACC beneficairies, way more parttime workers on limited hours, way more training schemes.

- and the other thing that comes with double digit interest rates is double digit capital growth  especially when the price multiplier is low.  12% on 30k is faster and better to pay off on small wage  than 6% on 120k - at the 12% on 30 every bit of principal repaid is a bit step forward, so home cooking and turning off lights actually counted.     At 6% on 120 it's barely neglible, far better to just call it "cost of living" and enjoy what you can.   And while everyone has that 12+% that capital gain is just so working for you, so in a few years you've got a great asset.   on the 6/120 in a few years you'll probably be 6.5/110...whoop-de-doo...

- and I'm still waiting for that overseas trip...

its tough at the moment and getting tougher.  But.
My previous is rather negative, there are turning points but really what needs to happen is that (NZ) people are going to have to move away from the 1/2acre, 40yrs at one career mentality.  It's been said many times over the last 20 years.

And that' what I'm hoping with Nat/Lab/Grn failing this voting-time.
We need to stop living on credit, and that "we" means government.  The expanding population is not paying for itself, things like having to go Transmission Gully, is huge cost .   And without some kind of income, and so much importing, the larger population is just going to get worse.
 But where are we going to get materials and capital (including for wages) to improve energy systems, to develop NZ owned and work transport systems, how are we going to reduce government dependence?

Selling our assets and countryside off is not going to grow income.
And importing cheap toys isn't going to get NZ workers better incomes.

This is why I think David was saying we need more creative growth.  But for that we need more (internal) money going around...

Spot on Cowboy (nice to share some common ground for a change!)

Nat/Lab/Grn? 
Do you mean NZF/Lab/Green?
Yet the Greens are going to seed IT, and the Nats? do nothing.
Yet the Greens would cancel transmission gulley, and extend public transport, and move to Green Tech and the Nats? they are building the Gulley and pushing oil developement that doesnt exist.
40yr jobs? I dont know where you get this from, I have worked in 5 different job areas in 35 years. ie I have been made redundant 3 times at least and threatened with it at least twice so moved first, and to better.  Two things I have learned, keep skills at a high level and accept tomorrow could be the last day of today's job.
Labour is no better than National, both are yesterday's men.
NZF are last week's...LOL, though that is how I will vote I suspect, bugger.
regards
 

I mean Nat/Lab/Green ... obviously not as one government,  but the same old "milk the public" nanny state bnuying votes and trying to buy friends.    Not sure just why as "an export nature/commodity economy" why we have (in anecdotes have resemblence to fact) massive importation issues that leave us broke, underfunded and having to sell assets to make up for debt.

I doubt they can (or should) cancel the gully.  Population is growing, and as long as we remain enslaved to cars and the "drive to store" mindset (in Palmy North, tragety is walking more than twenty steps from your parking place).  
 Population will cause these upgrades to be necessary, but is the increasing population actually creating economic growth enough to cover the many bills it creates (with RBNZ made responsible for stopping economic growth, I'd have to say no).  It keeps a few regular business profitable, and many of them do good jobs...but is the economic grwoth there?  And from the constant need for more taxes, more rates, more interest, and pressure to put up minimum wage because of need (rather than just to stop delinquint/abuser business practices) I would say no the growth in economy isn't there - and if tax isn't important for government funding then why did GST go up?  Why do we have to pay so much for vehicle registration?  (re: GST, it's 15% straight out of retailers pockets in turnover - if we want economic growth for a more self-sufficient NZ then why are we using taxes to penalise businesses and customers?  people tell me tax increases are to reduce cigarettes and carbon etc, so it must be being used to reduce customers shopping too

as an indicate of economics,  how much has the Chinese Dairy related segments of the market grown in the last 12, and 6 months, and projected for the next 6, 12 months.

How much is the responding dairy economic growth (including consolidation) is occurring in NZ over the same period?

And that was one of our top exporter earners.

How does that compute for local business and jobs, _excluding_ multinationals/foreign owned/ major import & flog off (in the computer industry we used to call them "box droppers", no added value, as the back end was pretty mostly just mailorder/warehousing)

The 40 yr job mentality.  And yes after surviving the first 5 chops at one firm, and 3 at a previous one, I'm used to not overcommitting.   But I'm referring to the expectation of training vs supplying skills, "employee for love and life" vs straight sale contract,  and most importantly but I really avoiding going "full rant" is education sector that churns out people without home skills and market/ecnomic awareness...resulting in aforementioned government and local nanny state getting away with a whole raft of things that aren't good for people or society.

they need young folks with understanding about private sector hirage, about buying and selling location and travel, about self-education...but most of our education sector is run by government, and most of the teachers/principals are government funded employees - so they have difficulty imparting information they don't understand

Boatman, perhaps some humility wouldn't go amiss.
Your so called "indisputable facts" makes you out to be a bigot.
Though some of what you 'claim' may be true, in essence you're passing an assumption on every New Zealander and their families. 
If you can substantiate your apparent facts then please do so.
My only means of comparing now to the 80's would be the average % of outgoings to income.
This article clearly states that real wage growth has been minimal (albeit 2009):
Official data on wage movements in New Zealand point to a real wage decline of around 25% between 1982 and the mid 90s that has never been recovered.

http://www.unite.org.nz/?q=node/704
 

@dobtrydan , do u really  need to get personal ?
Do you actually know what a bigot is ?
Maybe you should read this, FYI  I am not prejudiced against any race , creed , tribe , religion , gender or disability .
My observations are a middle class New Zealander , a tag that I surely qualify for .
We have 3 kids ,  2 are at state schools and one at Uni  ,  both my wife  and I work , we own a home that we have struggled  to get mortgage free , we have some savings and have 2 cars ( Toyota and Honda) older than 5 years . We own a share portfolio and an interest is some commercial properties .
We pay our  Council rates , all our IRD taxes ( which I think are too high ) make the school donation , and we are not a burden on Social welfare or the health system .
We are not entiled to WFF which we would noy take if we were entitled , because I think its  a load of crap , and is nanny state nonsense, they should rather reduce taxes for all  families  with children instead
The reality is that things are really good for most if not almost all Kiwis , and I maintain  that we  New Zealanders have never had it so good .

Perhaps if you didn't begin your comment with "Wow , there are some clueless idiots on this site, here are some indisputable facts" one would not respond with anything directed at you personally. For the record:
bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from their own or intolerant of people of different political views, ethnicity, race, class, religion, profession, sexuality or gender. 
Boatman, there are many New Zealanders who have it good BUT an increasing number of New Zealanders who would argue this is as good as gets.
While we discuss points on income equality and what makes a decent living wage we forget that New Zealand society has changed dramatically as a result of the breakdown in the family unit and wider community.
As a secondary teacher I would predict 1 in 4/5 are living in solo/ de-facto/ second marriage arrangements often resulting in enivitable financial stress. Either you've lost half your asset/savings or had to put children in daycare whilst seeking employment or simply turned to the benefit to look after young children.
You should watch "Benefit Street" screened on TV1 last night to give you an idea of how bad society can get if you don't address the issue of inequality. I taught in a simlar environment while in the UK and experienced first hand the reality of what some young people under 16 live with. 
I fear the same outcome may have already begun in some areas of our country.

These are not  "indisputable" and in many cases not " facts"
These are symptoms.
You dont get it really, the party is over, just you and most ppl dont realise it yet.
"eat out 3 times a week"? if you count McDonalds as food and eating out, OK.  If I had a dog I wouldnt feed that cr*p to one.
"Structural adjustments meant you risked losing your job" funny thing I know quaite a few ppl in their 40s and 50s who have recently (since 2008 and ongoing) suffered just this.  I certainly dont know where you get this from as for 30 years I have suffered such adjustments and Im sure I'll see more. 
"good as it is right now" if you are a BB looking to retire, yes....until the storm hits anyway.
The view is always great from the top.  As someone said we are at "peak everything" from here its downhill.
regards

@ Steven , who ever suggested I am "at the top" as you put it ?
I am nowhere near the top , BUT  I dont resent those  who are , or that are more succesful than myself .
Quite often I find that those one perceives  to be "at the top" is an illusion created by them .
Its worth remembering that there will always be fellow men who are wealthier  and men poorer than you
Folk who are cleverer and less clever than you
Folk who are more confident and those less confident than you .
 

The context  of "at the top" wasnt aimed specifically at you, maybe it just shows how self centred you are in assuming I meant that.
The context is as a civilisation, all 7billion of us. 1.5~2billion are like you and I in the "developed world" the other 5 billion want to be, but there isnt the energy, materials or food to achieve that, or stay "here".
Consider how messy that could get.
PS I dont resent those higher up either.
I am "uneasy" where they are not genuine workers who have earned it, but I dont waste energy or time on it, taht's life, move on.
The term you maybe looking for is from the wild west (maybe it was a 1950s? holywood movie?)  rather than true history, "there is always a faster gun".
regards
 
 

Well said Boatman. You could not have described the differences any better other than maybe to say just how much more expectant X and Y are of wanting everyone to give it to them on a plate. I have given my children a much easier life than I had with their own townhouse in their university town for example but at least they have both finished their degrees and have something to show for the help they have been given. So many X and Y have wasted their opportunities in life. Life is just too easy.

Well said Boatman, also the shops were closed on Sundays as well.
Paying interest of 5% on $300k is easy, as opposed to 20% back in your day on $10k. How did you guys manage?
 
 

Don't forget their expensive tertiary education costs!! (free of course)

It was very hard on our meagre salaries and wages Frazz. Thanks for your concern.

Meagre? If you inflation adjust the adult minimum wage from 1969 it works out to be somewhere around 18.65 an hour. Yes, taxation on people earning a lot more than the minimum wage was more regressive back then, but people starting out their working life were a lot closer to the minimum wage than the maximum one. 

Gosh Bernard - that was a statistical fumble from you that was most unlike you.
 
Auckland house prices (on a stratified median basis) have risen 56% since the Auckland market troughed in November 2008.  Prices then were $435.7k, and as at July 14 they are $680,040 = which is a 56% gain, nearly twice what you suggested.
 
The median for the whole country is quite close to the 30% up you quoted.
 
But the bubble is in Auckland - as we all know.

How much higher is the 2 bedroom market in Palmerston North?

Not much!!!!
 
Aggregate of all non Auckland, North Island based houses up only 8% since the GFC.  A lot of overs and unders including some pretty depressing performances and outlooks.

I'm pretty sure house is only in Palmerston North and not spread all over "non-Auckland, NI"

A friend rents houses in Hastings. His Tennants have just lost their jobs as Heinz Wattie in Hasting are doing a big lay off.  The tennants told him 500 people, thats an unreliable source.
My friend is worried about his house values. He went to a mortgagee sale last week and only one other person there.

ouch.   Yeah I keep reading about all the good news, but I'm not seeing it on the ground or in the factories.
   H-W are Aussi, so the high NZD would have really hurt the local NZ side of operation, and the weather has been uncommonly wet and cold up that way.  Worse with the economy the way it is I don't see a lot of startups - hopefully Sorted or some jobsite will have a selection of active hires.  Although IIRC H-W Hastings is seasonal, so won't be that bad in Hastings itself...but it's hardly surprising given the number of NZ sites H-W has closed.
 Perhaps they could get jobs as rock-star economists...I hear that's an unskilled position...

House prices in decline in the regions due to LVR, rising interest rates, & lack of regional devt
 
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462...
 
 

I think you'll find (in order):
Lack of regional development.
Values are stagnant (while jobs are uncertain).
rising interest rates.

LVR I doubt even factors in

As long as some smartarse can design machines like this then unskilled jobs are always going to be at risk.
 
http://www.klima.co.nz/KLIMA-G2-vine-pruner

Trouble is there will always be people continuing to be born for whom manual labour is what they are best suited to. I am one of those, sit me down all day at my work and my mind quickly turns to green slime, can't help it.
It's taken me a long time to stop trying to fight it and now I am doing something that I enjoy, it is very physical, I can charge a good hourly rate and I am getting fitter by the week and my mind is improving along with it. Some of us are just built differently.
I am no spring chicken, btw

I'm highly skilled at DR DOS and modems (especially 2400 bps)...
not everyone can or wants to be on the bleeding edge of skills - I was ok until after the second mental breakdown, now only 46 but the rush to upskill just isn't as interesting as before. And if I can't get a job using the skills - or end up doing pay the rent jobs outside my area - where does that leave me and my family?

VanyLAN skills needed anyone?  Early smartcard programming? 8086/186/286 PC hardware? Z80 programming?  Maybe it's horticulture I should have studied, grow a money tree like others seem to have.

then there things like how much need for cutting edge DR radiography skills?  What about CR?   so what happens to the CR people in 10 yrs?  What happens to those who do take time out of the workplace - should they reimburse the company for recruitment costs, or should the company pass the cost of skill updates when they return to customers or shareholders?

u will pay the same price for a pn house today as you would have in 2006.
8 years of flat prices.
 

"sustainably"
The in buzz word, greatly abused.
Either BE doesnt have a clue, I mean using a one time resource of crude oil isnt sustainable.
Or he does understand about Peak oil and climate change and is hiding/lying,
Take your pick, I dont think BE is stupid myself, that leaves the latter.
regards