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Christopher Luxon is right. NZ business is soft - so what is he going to do about it?

Business / opinion
Christopher Luxon is right. NZ business is soft - so what is he going to do about it?
luxon
Christopher Luxon.

I agree with Christopher Luxon. New Zealand Business, with a big B, is soft. 

The big business softness is baked in. NZ business has been tending to, and kneading that softness constantly over many years through political donations, associations, lobby groups and PR people. All this to ensure the existing cushy please-if-you-don’t-mind-not-killing-your-staff regulations are not made tougher, that the needs of business are always centered in any discussion, and ultimately put above the public interest.

Since the all-guns-a-blazing privatisation of assets which kicked off in the 1980s, New Zealand business has fully captured organisations and bodies that should be holding them to account.

We deregulated, but after this wipeout of regulation what has been allowed to rise up has NZ big business DNA baked into it.

Geoff Bertram, an academic at Victoria University in Wellington, has been screaming into the pitiless void about the almost complete regulatory capture (working for the benefit of the regulated rather than for the benefit of the public) in New Zealand for years.

His latest cry for help, the near-collapse and pending recovery of regulatory governance in New Zealand, was presented to a regulatory governance workshop in Florence in June.

He says we can thank regulatory capture for abuse of monopoly power to price-gouge consumers and eliminate competitors (hello smug energy firms who act like they're saving the world one Pukeko at a time), unbridled pursuit of self-interest degrading the quality of services and products; reduced health, safety and wages in workplaces; and unchecked environmental degradation.

This regulatory capture and baked-in softness floated New Zealand to the top of business-oriented measures like the World Bank ease of doing business survey, Bertram says, and can be thanked for an almost exclusive reliance on competition to curb market power, which left the way open for profiteering especially by vertically-integrated companies. 

Such sectors - and it's a NZ public enemy hit list of gougers - such as electricity generation and retailing, oil products wholesale and retail supply, building supplies, and supermarkets, have “taken full advantage” of this regulatory capture and untrammeled power, Bertram says.

We can all see the results of this in our weekly shopping bills (forever heading higher), the breakdown of plasterboard supply (good luck getting any), and the rapacious profiteering by the petrol firms who kept their margins high even after the government dropped excise tax.

And those industries aren’t the only ones punching above their weight for taming regulators.

New Zealand’s animal welfare regime basically exists only to ensure our food producers don’t look terrible to meat-eaters and milk-drinkers in Europe. The conditions of the animals matter not at all, really. Unless it makes us look bad enough people won't buy our stuff.

Report after report has called for animal welfare to be broken free from the cosy regulatory capture of the Ministry for Primary Industries, which even when responding to Official Information Act requests about animal welfare has the time to note that “we recognise most people follow the rules and want to comply".

Could you be any more of a suck-up? Shouldn’t you have apologised for existing first?

Take this example. In 2015 animal activists released footage showing newborn calves, or bobby calves, being abused. The footage showed heartbreaking animal cruelty, including a man violently kicking and throwing calves before bashing them and slitting their throats.

Of course, the industry association (AKA part of the regulatory capture crew) said it was a minority of bad eggs.

This story hit international media, and I assume only because milk-drinkers and meat-eaters who might choose NZ products can read and have wi-fi, MPI did something.

But what did it do? This report, Reputation, regulatory capture, and reform: the case of New Zealand’s bobby calves, says the absolute bare minimum. 

The author, Danielle Duffield, concluded MPI’s desire to protect New Zealand’s international reputation for having strong animal welfare standards drove the regulatory reforms introduced. 

Its approach was “minimalist”. It adopted only the most basic reforms it had to have to “preserve the industry’s international reputation”. This indicates a significant level of regulatory capture, Duffield says, and even deviated from its statutory purposes which “clearly require appropriate animal welfare reforms to be adopted in accordance with public expectations, even when such measures do not deliver returns in the form of increased export earnings”.

"The MPI is effectively regulating to protect the interests of producers, rather than animals, and is ignoring the public’s interest in achieving high standards of farm animal welfare.”

In New Zealand 180,000 birds can be accidentally killed on a farm in Auckland and no one blinks an eye, let alone does anything about holding the firm that cared so little about these feathered profit providers for their short, miserable lives, accountable.

New Zealand business is so soft and ill disciplined and slack and lazy they sneer at the cost of a pair of plastic safety googles and gloat at the misfortune of a young man who lost an eye and who will likely forever rue working for this useless business owner.

NZ has plenty of soft and flabby businesses who happily absorb maiming their workers and even killing them in the pursuit of profit. The destruction of these people’s bodies and lives means nothing to them. Nothing at all. It’s an input on a spreadsheet, another recruitment campaign, the fear of being held to account by regulators or shareholders or anyone or anything at all is nil. No one cares. 

Is it easy enough for these New Zealand businesses already? How soft does our regulation have to be before they stop moaning about how terrible everything is?

This year eight people have died working in New Zealand, Worksafe data shows, and there have been more than 1200 incidents of serious injury, illness and major harm in 2022.

These numbers were meant to be going down (I mean that’s always the goal, right?) but they’ve stayed stubbornly anchored at far too many. We don’t need to wonder why. It’s all working exactly as business planned it to, and how it’s been designed. Business first.

New Zealand is so well-endowed with preening, self-involved soft-as-marshmallow rent-seeking monopolies like Fletcher that its GIB product, just a literal piece of plasterboard, is as well known in New Zealand households as the Briscoes lady. At least Briscoes boss Rod Duke throws a decent sale every long weekend.

Our businesses are so soft and weak they can’t even clean up after themselves, like toddlers they have to be forced to do the bare minimum tidy up, and even then, when they’re not being forced what happens? Duh. Nothing. Check out how forestry companies harvest trees but also lay waste to land and communities in the East Coast of the North Island as all they leave behind (not useful for profit, of course) is swept into rivers and onto beaches, wrecking them.

How soft is this? Business in New Zealand can run an oil rig and extract riches from our nation but then turn tail and disappear once it has taken its pound of flesh. Who is paying to pick up the tab for decommissioning the Tui oil field? Spoiler alert: the same people who always pay, us. The public. To the tune of about $300 million.

New Zealand business is so pathetically soft it can’t even take feedback or constructive criticism from former workers. Zuru, owned by this country’s former E&Y entrepreneur of the year, is busy taking legal action against staff who posted reviews about it on Glassdoor. Staff reviews on a website. Seriously. Soft? That’s positively lily-livered.

Time to give some credit. Business NZ is a lobby group that is excellent at rent seeking. It is so good at lobbying and rent seeking (getting money without creating or producing value) it has ratepayers through our local councils and crown entities like ACC funding it, including misinformation campaigns against local government. Well played Business NZ. But sucks to be you, again, New Zealand public.

From the Pike River disaster, to leaky buildings, heavy vehicle tow bar certification, to energy companies entrenching and using their market power to drive up prices, from the ratepayer-owned port monopoly killing its workers, to the petrol companies who never stop stepping on our necks, we’ve been let down. And it is systemic, and it is meant to be this way.

NZ has a rat king of regulatory capture, it's regulatory capture all the way down until you reach the general public, squished at the bottom underneath a mass of fat cats pretending they’re not rodents but actually just delighted to serve ordinary Kiwis.

We’re being milked for everything we have or ever could aspire to have, so those at the top of this grotesque structure of wealth-hoarding, asset capture and feral network of lobbyists and associations can keep getting richer.

Many NZ businesses are so soft they wouldn’t survive without absolutely everything being in their favour. That’s what they’re used to and that’s what they built here.

So yes Christopher, I agree with you. New Zealand businesses are soft. 

What is your plan to fix this? I am all ears.

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84 Comments

I'm not sure what this article is trying to promote.

On one hand, we're getting milked.

On the other, we want harsher regulations?

The author doesn't sound like they've spent long enough living under stringent work and safety regulations.

Yes please, I want to waste half and hour to an hour every day, ticking the same boxes I ticked yesterday, and having the same toolbox talks I did 2 days ago. And again tomorrow.

Charge me $800 for the same day of safety training I did 2 years ago (plus a lost days' productivity)? Don't mind if I do. What's that, ladders are unsafe after centuries of use? Shut the site down, let's wait for an elevated work platform to get delivered.

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Are you talking small business and scaffolding regulations, more specifically?  If so, yes, it seems to me we went H&S mad in some areas (small business) and H&S non-existent in others (big business).  

Pike River is a prime example of the non-existent end of that spectrum. 

But as the author points out - it's not just H&S, it's environmental degradation; monopoly/duopoly protectionism, animal rights turn-a-blind-eye, waste management, forestry clearance non-regulation, heavy transport failing to pay its way for damage to roadways, etc.

 

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I'm talking any business where there's deemed to be a significant risk of injury or death, so construction, agriculture, forestry, etc etc. I.e. most work in NZ that deals with anything kinetic.

My moronic back of napkin maths prices health and safety at around 10 grand a year, per worker in the above mentioned industries. More again in specific instances especially working at height.

It is really difficult to define a balance, we have a system now that treats every employee like it's their first day on the job, and that they're about to get murdered at every turn.

Its a world now where the record of what youve done becomes more important than actually doing it.

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The example she gave was the cheap plastic toy company founders pursuing ex-staff through the courts because they left a bad review on Glassdoor.

I'm with the author on this one, they can keep their helicopter out of the hood as well.

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I'm ok with Glassdoor if there's a commensurate site for employee reviews.

Having people reviewed as complete trainwrecks would save a lot of time and money.

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Who do you believe has more power in the employee v employer dynamic? If you are that precious about a Glasdoor review that's a steaming red flag for me.

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This is very true, I work in finance, due to regulation I put together a 30 page summary of a one hour conversation, 100% chance it will confuse the customer, only four pages are important, only two of them I need back from them, and only a 0% chance they'll remember much of anything.

The real customer is the FMA at the end of the day (who are just as unlikely to read it as the customer, and probably use scales rather than eye balls for judging the merit of your work, +1kg being optimum disclosure), and with each tick box, page number, and loading screen, all I can think of is the Kiwi productivity levels vs our OECD counterparts, and that what's left of my youth is being fittered away for some bureaucrat wanting to stamp their name into NZ law without understanding the subject matter, nor consequences, it's literally the 30 second spray and walk away advert except Government style, "4 year spray and walk away".

...and I know this scenario can be transposed into many many different sectors, industries, etc., and I also know there is a reason for the regulation, ineptitude fought with ineptitude though does seems to be a fallacy just the same.

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I think many can relate…the world over.

That’s why nightclubs were invented,somewhere for youth to escape at the end of a week.

 

 

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Love the expression - " +1kg being optimum disclosure ".  So true of so much of the consultancy work I read these days - we are raising/forcing a professional class of wafflers.  I don't think many professionals like it, but they certainly understand it is how their bread gets buttered.  Very sad for all involved.

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A good time to revisit George Orwell's writing on use of the English language, eh.

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Reminds me of my stats teacher at college. Graded the papers two ways, First the proper way, and then by throwing them over his shoulder. His reasoning that the people who did the most work, their papers would travel the furthest. Bell curves lined up so he reckoned,

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There was a death on site at Omaroro Reservoir in Wellington recently.  The guy missed the last rung of the ladder and fell backwards.  Totally avoidable, but how do you manage that risk unless we legislate bouncy castles at the bottom of every structure?  

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You attend a site safe course, where it is explained to you that people who use ladders like this are a "dumbass" for several hours, I wish I was joking. Then you pass a rugby ball around in a small group for a bit to prove you can communicate with your peers. 

Big business (construction company's) got the reduction in insurance premiums, small business (sub contractors) got the opportunity to pay for the loss of productivity. 

What did we achieve, well judging by your story....Nothing.

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It's too much regulation that gets monopolies entrenched, as only big companies have the resources to work their way through the minefield.

Imagine if GIB could be easily substituted for another plasterboard?

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It wouldn't solve the problem.

The basic problem is too many people, not enough planet. See my comment below, re differentiation.

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Not sure if you noticed, but the article was about big business and regulation.

If the only tool you have is a hammer...

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As stated, see my comment below.

It is important to differentiate.

:)

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It can but about 6 months ago they were logistics constrained by shipping and possibly factory production overseas. Bill English? after the Chch earthquake suspended the tariff on imported plasterboard, 10%? . I wonder if that was re-instated after lobbying.

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Bit much rant in this article. But correct in substance. 

Business is soft in New Zealand.  They do enough, but don't maximise. And when they do do well and the overseas buyer makes the offer to buy them out.  We say OK.

Finally the Commerce Commission identifies we are soft comsumers.  Which retards competition.  When the big corp jacks up the price  - we say OK. 

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Don't hold back Rebecca ;)

I worked at Unilever myself for over 25 years, including with Christopher Luxon when he started his career. Previously I'd worked for a few NZ SME's & another multinational over 20 years.

The international experience opened my eyes to the endemic myopia of many (but not all) NZ businesses who don't know how "lucky" they are to have a generally compliant workforce & Govt/regulatory environment. Unfortunately this supportive environment leads to complacency & inertia: when things go wrong there's usually an overreaction somewhere that deals with the symptoms rather than fundamental issues.

They're also lucky that their taken for granted talent is usually committed to staying here for extended family reasons when many NZdrs are truly world class people when it comes to ethical behaviour, professional skill, commitment, teamwork & creativity (I could go on a bit here...).Those that do eventually go oversea's are usually highly successful, well rewarded & sought after.

Unilever is a company competing globally with major players (eg. P&G, Nestle) where failure at any level wasn't an option; unlike many NZ companies & Govt who respectively tolerate & facilitate workplace inefficiencies, behaviours & practices that are simply unacceptable elsewhere.

 

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Great post Kiwi. I have experience with P&G, Nestle, and Unilever. Your description resonates well with me. IMO, Fonterra is not in the same league. 

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I think we have to accept that part of the appeal of NZ,is a more relaxed way of life,for better or worse.Most kiwis don't want the 'American dream',a dog eat dog corporate culture with unpaid interns,massive hours where the rewards are enjoyed by those at the top,not so much further down the ladder.Some of the rewards  accrued by corporate leaders over there are obscene.If anyone did some digging they would find Chris's (sorry Christophers) rewards were pretty generous and based around bonuses and share issues etc that encouraged short term profits.Yes he presided over a very profitable time at Air NZ,but he also inherited a company that had been turned around by Fyfe and others.He then took over during a period that was all tail winds,low fuel costs,monopolies to LA.He took a FMGC approach and cut everything to the bone,spent no capital on aircraft interiors etc.Just ask premium customers how their experience was degraded over time in the front cabins.It was all about maximising profits during his tenure.Mean while staff were faced with ever increasing attacks on wages and conditions.He was well known for his 'robust' discussions with folk,threatening the 'wrath of god' on them if they didn't fall into line....in short not what most kiwis want.

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I think we have to accept that part of the appeal of NZ,is a more relaxed way of life,for better or worse.

I would say that most people who work for Unilever do not stay there for life. They take the learnings and experience and move on. 

Your comments re Air NZ do not surprise. 

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"..They take the learnings"

 Should that have been 'earnings' ? LOL

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Great writing - really on point.  Anyone that's worked in government will understand the truth of this. 

My general impression from both outside and in, is that our public service has lost any skilled expertise in writing good regulation, as well as in enforcing it properly.  It's kind of a neo-liberal hangover - when you practice "hands-off" for too long, you lose the ability to be match fit when everything falls apart.

It's a serious problem.

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I just wonder what is your evidence for good regulation of good old days? 

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Now This - is Journalism.

Thank you.

There will be a deafening silence of course, but absolutely the right target. Because he's one of them.

There is one more layer to keep in mind, though; not all our problems are 'price gouging'; many are systemic. The way to differentiate, is that gouging only transfers wealth (energy proxy, when all's said and done) from one group/corporate/individual to another. The systemic problem is ultimate scarcity; making it a game of musical chairs. We must be very certain which is which.

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Agree.

And in a world of ultimate scarcity, waste is a crime against humanity. But imagine if our elected officials decided to run our society and economy based on Rowarth's doughnut economics?   Most of the legislative change needed would be in re-writing regulations.  A whole new mindset as well as different theoretical and practical skills would be needed.

I don't know, but I fear accounting, finance, economics, political science/government tertiary study is yet to re-work the curriculum to impart that particular knowledge yet.  I could be wrong - and it would be great to hear from someone in those curriculum areas.

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Dig your work Kate. Let's not forget that the likes of Unilever do improve people's lives in developing countries. Things like hand soap that we take for granted.They're focused on more sustainable production while not being in the doughnut economics paradigm (which always sounds to me like a Western luxury). 

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Thanks.  It might seem like a Western luxury, but it (so far) is the only break-away economics model/initiative that I've seen that looks like an improvement on the way the profession analyses, measures and recommends presently. 

I think there is a general appreciation in economic circles that many of our existing metrics measure the wrong things and at the top of the chain, monetary policy has most certainly lost its way.  Moving to a new economic model wouldn't affect business accounting or business practice per se (i.e., Unilever) but it would require that society and business generally begin to address the externalities that the application of orthodox economics has failed people and the planet on.

But, I'm not an economist of course and what I'd really like to see is our best economists start addressing a new way forward.  From the time the Queen asked why economists had not been able to predict the GFC;

https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/queen-elizabeth-told-how-economists-missed-financial-crisis/

I have seen no new theories/models from the profession to prevent the next one.

 

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I can't speak for today's Unis however when I studied postgrad business admin at VUW as a "mature student" with a decade or so of experience, it was quite clear that while basic theory in the range of subjects (Econ, Finance, HR, Production Operations, Strategy, Marketing... etc) was ok as far as it goes the level of contemporary business knowledge & practice taught was woefully weak & a decade or 2 out of date. I had a personal theory that to get into a tertiary curriculum it almost needs to be established conventional wisdom - and therefore almost automatically outdated in a fast moving world.

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Thanks for the response.

Conventional wisdom - it's an awful term.  There is nothing conventional about the problems we are facing today. 

This study has just been updated - the decline is now 90%.

https://pelasphere.com/2021/05/31/new-study-shows-a-50-decline-in-krill-abundance-in-the-north-atlantic/

Every other profession is pointing out these problems - where is business and economics?  They should be leading the conversation around changes necessary to my mind.

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Every other profession is pointing out these problems - where is business and economics?  They should be leading the conversation around changes necessary to my mind.

Excellent point.

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Great article. 

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A welcome look under the covers of business culture here in NZ. Thank you for this!

Time for business to look get a proper social license to operate and the need to shift focus on the sole purpose of enriching directors and executives.

Time to focus on doing good and innovating. No more relying on limited competition to keep prices high and wages low.

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Our corporate culture in NZ is one of friendliness rather than competency as we value personal interaction more than professional interaction.

We often work with "great" people, but not necessarily people who are "great" at their job.

In most places this is called nepotism. In NZ, it is just doing business.

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No better example than the Leaky Buildings Crisis. Business lobbied, political stooges helped, and the country was told that timber need not be treated and the industry could regulate itself. Which...hey, it may have been able to if it had not also through very friendly LLC law been able to readily avoid responsibility for its own actions. 

Now we have onerous and hyper-detailed council regulation in building because the council has to try to protect ratepayers and taxpayers from all the different ways the industry might build rubbish and avoid responsibility for doing so.

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and the rapacious profiteering by the petrol firms who kept their margins high even after the government dropped excise tax.

There are people on the management teams of these companies making these decisions to gouge Kiwis more when the taxes were reduced. Perhaps it is time for Kiwis to stop looking at the company names and start looking at the individuals involved in this gouging of Kiwis.

They may argue that their only mandate is to increase returns for shareholders, but perhaps some inspection of their role in society as a company and as individuals might help consideration of wider issues.

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Agree, but see mine above. Step back one, and we're all gouging future generations. In fact, we're probably gouging them by orders of magnitude more, than we are being gouged now.

If you burn a litre of fossil energy, NOBODY, EVER can burn it. You took that opportunity away from them, and they didn't even have representation in the court-room 0r the ballot-box. That's theft; arguably (via unmitigated CC) fraud. Yet this is about being disenfranchised of a minor percentage of that litre. That's why I suggested we need to differentiate the 'who' and the 'who' are doing, and being done.

Come to think of it, fossil energy has made it soft for all of us. Not just business...

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https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-introduces-accountable-capitalism-act

Best example I've seen of someone trying to express this intention in legislation.  Didn't get voted on, but perhaps it will return some day!

 

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I used to admire Elizabeth Warren. Unfortunately I cannot anymore. She's way out of touch with the majority. She's part of the wealthy elite and has made sure that her bread has been well buttered. Her jihad against digital assets (crypto so to speak) has been atrocious and her arguments flimsy and not well researched. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-like-elizabeth-warren-too-bad…

 

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To that, I'd say it's an article from one grumpy political hack.  One of my cousins in the US said that the only thing that will save the US is getting the money out of politics. 

Unfortunately, they haven't yet got around to legislating for that yet.  And it would take someone like Warren to do it.  But, first, she needs to be in that role.

It's an unfortunate aspect of realpolitik - funding takes away the focus on policy.

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Have you seen her net worth?

Most Americans know Elizabeth Warren through her long stint in politics and also through infamous insults by President Donald Trump. This much needed fame helped Elizabeth Warren increasing her wealth by attracting millions of dollars of donations from wealthy businessman. Elizabeth Warren’s net worth has grown at a rate of 200% over the past five years.

Despite her tough stance on banks during her initial years of politics, Senator Elizabeth Warren has now become one of the few politicians accepting record donations from Wall Street banks. Very soon, Elizabeth Warren’s net worth might reach an impressive $75 Million dollars.

 

https://caknowledge.com/elizabeth-warren-net-worth-forbes/ 

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I know of her far better from her years in academia.  I think I also read somewhere that her partner is a very wealthy person as well.

But who cares about her wealth if her ideas are good and her heart is in the right place - and from my knowledge of her career in academia, it certainly is;

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class (2007)

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But who cares about her wealth if her ideas are good and her heart is in the right place - and from my knowledge of her career in academia, it certainly is;

I think that really misses the conflict of interest issue. How can Pocahontas stand for the little guy against Wall Street when WS itself is lining her pockets? It's the same story we see with the likes of Obama and the Clintons. 

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The fact that you've used the name calling attributed by Donald Trump kind of tells me you've got a bee-in-your-bonnet.  But that's okay.  Point is - would she have been more effective than Biden - and my guess is absolutely, yes.

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Perhaps she was sincerely mistaken about her ancestry. Or perhaps it was dishonest opportunism. 

But what we do know is that Native Americans are the ones most offended by her actions, not Donald Trump, and are the people asking for her to retract her claims.Do you think it's fair for them to feel offended?

I stand by my comments that I find her behavior hypocritical.  

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-02-26/elizabeth-warren-agai…

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What is a guy with 7 houses going to do about rent seeking behavior? 

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Preach the Parable of the Tenants?

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Offer tax cuts for himself and his mates, so far. Look, it's only fair - if speculators wanted to pay tax they'd work for wages like the plebs. It's important the working Kiwi plebs knuckle down and pay the taxes to fund society so property speculators don't have to.

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I hope someone doesnt ask him about his tax returns. 

I mean I’m sure he didn’t negatively gear any of his houses and not pay tax. Just saying cause that would be damn embarrassing if it came out.

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Having worked in other countries and owned a business in NZ I am not convinced that we are inherently "worse" than elsewhere - but thats not to say we couldnt be better

and we dont have corruption to deal with as do many other countries which can hide issues

In my view if we want to improve, competition would be a good place to start. Monopoly service providers can be rent seekers and price gougers while also ignoring the rule book   

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We have corruption, and it is a much more insidious sort.

NZ doesn't pay cash receive benefit sort of corruption. We have the use your contacts to receive benefits sort of corruption.

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Yes. Institutional corruption. PwC, EY, McKinsey, management consultants from Queenstown. 

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.

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100%.

The country operates like a massive Old Boys' (and Girls', to a lesser extent) network.

Much harder to measure than cash exchanging hands for services/benefits rendered.

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Yeah it’s just well organised and open. Anyone that has paid for all the consultants after paying for a resource consent feels like they have just had their wallet raided by a third world country cop.

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Totally agree.....NZ has this lovely culture of employing or giving out contracts to known people or people who come through an inner circle....often the reason cited is a great working relation in the past........ with quid pro quo usually behind the scenes (in most cases).

The sad part is that this stifles capable people with no contacts and resulting in an un-competitive NZ on the world stage.

As for Chris, hopes he discusses making capital available for start ups, small and medium companies rather than casting this rosy red tape in the name of hardening NZ businesses.

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We don't have corruption.  But we have some very dodgy political appointments of late.

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Simon bridges on the chamber?

 

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I thought that was Mahout and nepotism I'd say is a form of corruption.

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Noticed that Nicola Willis spent at least 4 years at Fonterra and was able to be a GM with relatively little experience and zero experience in sales, marketing, or production. Not sure why Fonterra would have needed her. It is not a SOE. More than a few Fonterra-ites end up at NZTE. It's always unclear what value they bring outside glossy brochure production. 

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Fonterra is where future Nats go to get 'real world' experience on their CV,Todd Muller was another.

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How are you expected to understand what the lobbyists for the rent seeking oligarchs want if you haven't worked for a  rent seeking oligarch ?

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Where did Ardern get her ‘comrade’ training?

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Sounded like uncle Arthur there Rex…the jokes a bit tired.

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Political placement…. Bugger if your are a shareholder or farmer carrying the can so to speak

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It was that failed Nat party leader Todd Miller who also worked at Fonterra who got her the job there.

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NZ Business is Soft......For the love of God, now that the Housing Ponzi is showing its true colours....... can we please put in money into Start Ups and Enterprises to become successful in the real world....... or should we come up with some new red tape in the name of hardening businesses .......... ?

Now that  Labour have outrun their time, let's trust the head of a large NZ corporate who proclaims he's holier than thou...........

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It’s a damn shame our youth have to start from scratch. There aren’t many opportunities to go work at Asian offices are there…someone tell me how many NZ companies are on Asian sharemarkets indices?

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I would only believe 7-house-Luxon and his 'business is soft' speeches 'if' he and his merry band of wanna be cabinet members (read each-with-several-investment-properties) ditch their investment properties and invest their own money in NZ start ups and other NZ businesses via a third party investment vehicle(s) - to avoid corruption. Right now they have no skin in the 'change our economy' game. Ditto for their approach to climate change - give us some policies to vote for and get some skin in the game by investing in climate change oriented businessesas an added bonus.

Right now National party MPs own more houses than Labour ones. And the last national government did nothing about the duopolies or the bent toward housing in NZ. So why to believe they wont just get in and line their own pockets by reigniting the housing ponzi, or supporting their mates supermarkets etc, which given their own investment is the only thing to believe.

When Luxon gives us a good strategy, direction, outlines some serious policies and insists his members arent all the same old investment property owners and their sponsors arent the same people that own the duopolies..  we can all get on board and vote them in. Right now I am all the safest outocme being  Labour but shackling them with Winston (and maybe chloe if shaw goes)

 

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Old skool...labour with a handbrake certainly sounds better than the Nats with ACT as an accelerant.

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Spot on Rebecca. The old boy's network look after themselves very well.

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Business is many faceted. From micro through to international corporate, there are also many iterations in between. Big business (which I take from the article is the target here) is almost as bad as big govt, or big tech, or big anything. When you're big, you act big, you think big & you do big. Small, on the other hand can't do that. Why? Because they're small, & vulnerable, & only just making it through in many cases (like as in covid) & are easy targets for a bureaucracy overweight in human capital & with regulations coming out of their ears. 

Big should take on big, or at least that's what I thought the article was inferring. Big bad govt versus big bad business. Well, we've seen the supermarkets in their sights recently & for what's it worth, the big finance boys & girls have volumes of new regulation to adhere to, recently, even though, as the article states, that that very same regulation could kill off any new competition in many cases. Deary me. Such is the life of a Twenty First Century politician, & regulator, & the billionaire families who own most of the big businesses & have to labour for a living day in & day out.

Welcome to the manic world that is today.

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+1 absolutely brilliant article

But our politicians are too gutless to make most of the hard changes needed.

Ardern - wont spend political capital even with an absolute majority.

Luxon can only parrot the tired old line of "tax cuts".

We need sophisticated and radical change.

We need governments to be forced through legislation to make decisions that improve the net wellbeing per capita (economic + social + environmental) of New Zealanders including future generations (via social cost benefit assessment). 

The wellbeing approach is already being used and championed by Treasury but is not enforced and the results of the assessments seldomly made available in a simple publicly digestible manner.  This would force government to act in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

Our democracy needs to change too - it has major issues and is part of the reason we dont get the changes we need.
a) The young dont get a vote
b) Future generations dont get to vote
c) Votes below the 5% threshold are wasted
d) The skewed age profile of the population means that it is political suicide to campaign on changing the age of entitlement to superannuation even if it improved the net wellbeing of New Zealanders
e) Voters dont get to vote by issue, only by party.  No voter agrees with every policy of a party.

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e) is a fascinating point about our democracy, that I'd never really thought about before. 

It's a bit aligned to California's referendum-type voting on initiatives.

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2022/california-ballot-measures-propositions-guide-2022/

And agree on all the other points.

 

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NZ workers

"work smart, not work hard"

NZ retail businesses

Increasingly taken over by corporations. 

Suggested reply to "NZ business is soft - so what is he going to do about it?"

He can talk about it, in the end nothing changes, after the first 90 days it'll be like the JK years.

 

 

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You are right, given our economic mess this should be the easiest win in history for National. Instead for some reason they are stuck with 15 year old policies and totally out of touch with the majority of voters. Labour have read the room and know housing market is cooked now - so they are already pushing policies that should belong to National (getting migrants to put money into productive and start up business and pushing policies away from house investment).

All Jacinda needs to do then is to paint National with the 'house investment party' and 'more money and less taxes for the wealthy' brushes, tar Luxon with the '7houseLuxon' brush and Mid and lower class NZ will all vote Labour. National are already playing right into the story.

I am already sold.

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Putting money into start-up business is a gamble only the very wealthy can afford. Very high risk and very high reward. 

NZ does not have a strong business case for anything of economic substance, this is why property is the only game in town. It is the only game left (with all the negative consequences associated with it, unaffordable houses and social issues associated with it) as nothing else even have a glimmer of hope associated with it. 

Find me any country in the world, including the ones that are run by monkeys, where you do not hear leaders talking about startup, innovation, high-tech industries etc. Both Labor and National have used the same language over the past couple of decades, and I am sure as far in time as you can look back. It is obvious, that these are desirable outcomes. The objective is to achieve them, not to describe them. 

It is like a rugby coach keep saying that rugby is about scoring tries and converting penalties and not conceding them to opposition, and that all he says. His team continues losing all the matched they play, they keep saying the same non-sense, self-evident crap as if they somehow on the magical path to get there. Labor party has been in Power more than National, it has nothing to show for it. National also has nothing to show for their time. 

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Well written and bang on the mark.

Perhaps now our traditional exports are falling and our house market is collapsing.. is the time for change. We dont really have an alternative but to address the real issues?

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Could easily effect a massive more focus on productive business simply by dropping company income tax precipitously and raising an LVT on the unimproved value of land. Would hit multiple birds with one stone, also incentivising more intensification and effective use of urban land.

All that's missing is some politicians with a genuine interest in and intent for productivity rather than property speculation.

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Great and very professional interview tonight, Rebecca. Congrats, you made your points very clear and with a sense of humour at the end.👏

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Wow, this article is convoluted.. and very unclear as to what the objective is here....

Luxon telling businesses they are soft is somewhat a misnomer. How many other businesses can get bailed out repeatedly by the government? Air NZ has had two massive bailouts to the tune of $1.8b in the last 20 years alone? $885m (2002) and $900m (2020), he had the helm of a ship that is by all accounts invulnerable

Monopolies are what cause the most damage as we are seeing now, as competition provides alternative supply chains and lower costs to consumers, The issue is we've unwittingly weaved regulations that favour certain suppliers rather than a wider spread of suppliers i.e. GIB, traditional building materials over prefab or other methods used overseas in similar climates..

That is the point of a free market, competition drives variety, supply chain resilience, innovation and lower costs to end consumers

Some of these regulations have gone to the point of creating new industries, i.e. H&S, temporary fencing and work platforms etc

We restrict ourselves due to the fear of making a mistake (i.e. leaky building) - this in itself a mistake - we need functional product specifications and a thorough testing procedure to approve new building products and procedures to entice other suppliers into the market, then competition will do the rest for us .

How many alternative 'core' building products are actually 'acceptable' by councils?

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Bring back the live in Sunday markets, music in the parks and cottage industries.

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