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ACT Leader David Seymour on how slashing tax and government spending will get New Zealand through the economic crisis

ACT Leader David Seymour on how slashing tax and government spending will get New Zealand through the economic crisis

The only political party in New Zealand that sees major cuts to government spending as the way out of the Covid-19 economic crisis says it wants “efficiency” not “austerity”.

ACT would like to see the Government’s books returned to surplus by 2024, all the while cutting GST from 15% to 10% in 2021, and permanently cutting the tax rate on income between $48,001 and $70,000 from 30% to 17.5%.

To achieve its goal, ACT would need to cut core Crown expenditure by about $8 billion in 2024. Treasury forecasts expenditure being $113 billion in 2024.

ACT’s year-long GST cut would be worth $6.6 billion, and the income tax cut, about $3 billion a year.

ACT wants the country’s top civil servants’ incomes cut by 20%, interest put back on student loans, benefits cut to pre-Covid levels, and Working for Families and Families Package increases abolished. It also wants to scrap the Winter Energy Payment, fees-free tertiary study, Callaghan Innovation, research and development tax credits, film subsidies, KiwiBuild and government KiwiSaver contributions.

Speaking to, ACT Leader David Seymour assured he wouldn’t slash health and education spending. Most of what he wanted gone was schemes introduced and boosted since the Helen Clark era.

“Here’s the real danger: By the end of this decade, if we keep borrowing the way we are, we are going to find that the interest on our debt is greater than the cost of the education budget,” Seymour said.

“The only way that you get prosperous is that if people actually work, save and invest and create products and services that people want to buy at prices they can afford. If we don’t do that, then there’s no path to prosperity. All you’re doing is circling money around, and the process of taxing and transferring actually has dead weight losses that make us poorer.”

Seymour said the country’s success hinged on how “efficiently” it used its scarce resources. He maintained individuals were best placed to decide how they spent the money they earned.

As for the GST cut, Seymour said: “If you want to do some stimulus in the short-term, just to keep things ticking over, I think that’s much better than the Prime Minister going to AJ Hackett and giving, effectively, $10 million for a photo op.”

See the video for more on ACT's policies to:

  • require councils to make more land available for development once land price inflation hits a certain level
  • allow more investment, including in residential property, by people in OECD countries
  • introduce an income insurance regime 
  • monitor some beneficiaries' expenditure

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Let the ad hominems begin lol



Let the contradictions begin. Act is appealing to naive-younger-voters. Act is happy to let Boomers keep purchasing additional houses at the expense of younger voters. Act sounds like they want to reverse the foreign-buyers-ban?

Act wants to slash KiwiSaver incentives for young people starting out .. but David says saving is a good thing? Act want to add interest to student loans .. claiming degrees are often useless - yet Boomers got a free education and Act was part of the government that gave rise to the overseas-student-education-sector.

Act claim that they don't want austerity, yet seem to revere Margaret Thatcher's policies. Yet Act don't understand that Deep-Sea-Oil-Drilling saved the British economy (BP) in spite of her poor policies.

David says he's for personal responsibility and people are best able to manage their money - but David want's young welfare recipients to have their benefits micromanaged by the government? Yet boomers wont suffer this economic-over-sight.

David runs his economic policies as if the world was backed by gold, which it currently is NOT. His party is totally pernicious. Though he did do great work with charter schools.


What is it with you and your anti "boomer" sloganeering. If you don't want to contribute to Kiwisaver - don't, if a measly $500 bucks is your reason for contributing then you're in it for the wrong reasons.
Seymours right about some degrees - completely useless. Why should the tax payer subsidise them?
As for the long term layabouts on Jobseeker benefits, great idea to electronically monitor their spending. They're lucky they don't get a voucher system. If you actually absorbed what he said about the benefits he was talking a last resort mechanism, hardly valid for your young recipients. NS recipients have paid their dues over many decades, something I doubt you have achieved yet.


"NS recipients have paid their dues over many decades ..". That's a blatant lie! Their tax paying years don't nearly cover their benefits - NOT EVEN CLOSE !! You're entitled to your opinions, BUT not to MAKE UP FACTS~!!

You call the government contribution a "measly $500 bucks" - that's a 50% return on minimum investment. How much are u getting on your cash in the bank?

If you think $500 is measly, what about Job Seeker? That's $250 per week (correct me if I'm wrong). That wouldn't even cover my rent, and I live in Christchurch.

Reality - Grip It.

Just pointing out Act's contradictions. Notice you didn't have ANYTHING to say about Act's ZERO understanding of Modern Monetary Theory.

You really need to go do some basic maths lad, 45 yrs of paying tax more than makes up for the 20 -25 yrs of NS. As I said , if you're that self entitled that your're only putting in the minimum contribution to get the 50% return it pretty much proves my point.
As for MMT if you think that's a relevant policy to pursue.. again it proves my point - you have no idea
Jobseeker is not a right, nor is it designed to be lived on.. something you would do well to understand
Some reading for you -


"You really need to go do some basic maths lad, 45 yrs of paying tax more than makes up for the 20 -25 yrs of NS."

Please provide ONE STUDY that supports your assertion. Sounds like magical, unicorn thinking to me.

"As for MMT if you think that's a relevant policy to pursue.. again it proves my point - you have no idea"

The world operates on MMT, Fractional Reserve Banking, Fiat backed by 'men-with-guns', ever devaluing currencies, petrol dollar etc - If you can't even agree on the reality of the financial system and it's implications .. you really can't hold a candle to anyone in a financial debate.

Not interested in your LINK, WE LIVE IN A WORLD BASED ON MMT.

Again, you don't have to like it, I don't - I say buy Bitcoin!
Again - Reality, grip it!

You're the one shouting that it doesn't - you prove it. I've been a tax payer for over 35yrs and I can guarantee you I've paid a sh!tload more tax than I'll ever receive in NS. Trouble is you make these ridiculous sweeping statements with no experience to back them up

"ridiculous sweeping statements"

Yet to have you point out one.

You're sounding a bit ageist tbh.

Reread your posts.. even you will see them. You could start with the one about NS

Haha, out of the mouth of a bleating self entitled Gen X baby. Your MMT theories have been discredited around the globe by people with more experience, qualifications and maturity in their little finger than you're displaying currently. The mere fact you think BC is viable national currency says it all.
Do some research before you jump on your soapbox

I'm not supporting MMT. What I'm saying is austerity doesn't work in a world run on MMT. But it's ok because the financial system (MMT) which benefited the Boomers is seemingly falling apart. Good luck.

Me and my mates are enjoying our record high gold prices, and ever increasing Bitcoin valuations. Enjoy your negative-interest-fiat .. we're laughing all the way to the blockchain.

Good for you

Brando, Brando.. wherefor art thou? This was just getting entertaining.

Might want to read this Brando.. Inland Revenue’s conclusion was that a disposal of gold would be taxable under Section CB 4 of the Income Tax Act 2007 if the gold was acquired for the dominant purpose of disposal.

Was busy counting my profits.

Stop, he's already dead!

Stop, he's already dead!

That 500$ is still coming from taxes,

emotional response. From one who is looking with green eyes at people who have worked and saved for forty or more years. Their is no free lunch. Boomers have paid for their lunch such it up and earn yours


Hook. You are wrong.

Yes, our last look at it was in 2011, but it won't be any 'better' now if we updated the data.

There is no question most on National Super get more in benefits that they ever pay in. That is why it survives as a pay-as-you-go scheme. Boomers vote for it. Otherwise they would support a funded, acturial pension. But they never do.

It impossible to conclude that it is not distotionary. It penalises the young.

And that is why Cullen moved to KiwiSaver and the NZ Super Fund. The current PAYG system is indefensible, except for the weakest in society (and for them it must stay).

David your study used some quite generalised assumptions. Did the school leaver go on to gaining a trade or start a business, or did he/she stay in a relatively low income job? That study is also 9 yrs out of date. For a start the minimum wage has risen by about 200% at least. You also failed in that study to identify what the benefits received are/were. Most studies I've seen rely on a pretty flat GDP but with population growth and technology that assumption is arguably challengeable. Cullen moved to KiwiSaver to address the nations abysmal savings rate (among other things)
There have been studies released more recently that show NS in it's current form is easily affordable out to 2060.. beyond if NZs productivity increases.

Your study also assumed an average earn of about $28K/annum of the 50yr work life. I would submit that even those on minimum wage earn vastly more than that and have done for at least the last 5 yrs. When I qualified as a tradesman in '87 I was paying 20K+ in tax so my comments to Mr Brando stand. Sorry but that's my personal experience and that of pretty much most people in skilled employment. Another somewhat glaring flaw in your study - the average life expectancy in NZ (as at 2019) is about 82 yrs, so almost (on average) 1/3 of the average tax paying working life will be spent drawing NS.

So post all the studies that disprove the ones David linked or shut up.

You could start with these snippets but first have a think - if the average life expectancy in NZ is about 17 yrs after retirement at age 65 won't the perceived problem solve itself in about 25 yrs?, remember too the NS is taxed as is the Superfund dividends.
That pdf is really good reading and highlights what I was saying about DCs study.

David linked his own study which is flawed and doesn't really stand up well to even cursory analysis

Even if you can prove that you personally will contribute more than the amount of super you will receive, it doesn't win your argument. Taxes are paid for a lot of different services that you have used and got a lot of value out of. They are not just your own personal super fund. It is such an ignorant argument to push.

It may be ignorant to you Joneses but when I look at what I receive in services from the State it makes perfect sense to me. I've spent my entire working life paying for services I've mostly never actually used so now it's my turn to claw some "use" back.

Yes David good political answer. too again blame Boomers. Yes and look at KiwiAaver and the NZ Super Fund the Politicians JUST cannot keep their hands OFF.

He wouldn't get the retiree vote with slashing the Winter Energy benefit also the tax break is higher than retires standalone income. He would have to do some more Twerking if he wants to impress this group as GST reduction wouldn't cut it, either.


I take it that you agree with his policies. I don't need ad hominem attacks to want to bury such discredited neo-liberal nonsense. I am surprised he didn't give us the Laffer Curve as 'proof' that cutting taxes works. Spoiler alert-it doesn't.

This is a slightly softer version of 'trickle down' economics coupled with a magical increase in NZ's productivity per head. It is simply not credible. However, if you really want an ad hominem attack, then I can only assume that his embrace of the gun lobby is out and out naked politics. Ok?


Seymour is making a lot of sense in many areas. I saw him speak a few weeks back. He is the only politician I have heard talk seriously about QE and the inequality caused central banking. ACT has my party vote this year and many of my peers are thinking the same.

But what difference would that vote make? If they get in the only party they would form a coalition with is National and they will do what ever it takes to maintain status quo or make the divide even worse.

Same with the Greens. The amount of vote that either ACT or the Greens get is an indicator to the main parties what the fringes are thinking. I’m sick of voting National and getting Labour lite.

At least they may push the government to maintain some type of moral compass when it comes to the environment, if nothing else.

Interet on student loans? Nah. Give us some repayment reform first.


Got my vote long ago

Mine too, but only long ago when I was young and dumb and misinformed and practically anarcho capitalist. Then I grew up and learned how the world and economies really worked. Monopoly was meant to be a cautionary tale not an economic plan.

The YES voters are only swinging away from National because of the immense uncertainty about retaining those constitutes occupying seats and lets be honest there isn't a lot of them with the current number of resignations. I am in Muller's electorate and I carn't believe the number of hoardings are erected.
I couldn't see myself voting for the Twerker. Hopeless policy agenda. Any one who votes for him and Peters is a waste of time in this election.


I can't understand why Act would want to burden the young with increased debt (student loan debt). They're already up against significantly higher financial barriers due to the excessive costs of accommodation in NZ, battling interest from education is just another cruel blow for people who are trying to better themselves.


The conversation should be more about why universities are pumping out thousands of students each year with useless degrees. Most degrees are practically useless with few job prospects on graduation. We should be disinsentivising kids from doing such courses. Interest on loans would go some way to achieving this.


I agree to an extent but think the bigger issue in education are the institutes that popped up for the sole purpose of helping foreign students enrol to obtain a visa and eventual residency in NZ.

Yes, but which party are addressing this issue? Good opportunity right now to do something concrete such as no Covid support to keep them going.

No political party has the moral strength to stop all these institutes running qualifications purely designed to recruit 100% international students for the money, with low prospects of grads gaining nz employment in the field of study. Which party wants to give up 5 billion of funding?
Walk around Auckland city - dozens of private providers, & Polytechs out of region, e.g. Southland ITP etc .... if the Govt funded the tertiary sector properly this phenomenon wouldn’t need to happen & have such a huge impact on immigration & the quality of education.


Well, there goes any chance of me voting for ACT, interest back on student loans, kiwibuild canned and kiwisaver neutered. Lets just screw the current generations ability to get anywhere.


So chances went from 1.5% to 0%?

They won't actually be able to implement any of these particular ideas. They will however sway government decision-making in a more free market direction, which I fully support. Their stance on euthanasia, free speech, tax, RMA - all top notch in my opinion. And Seymour actually understands economics and respects private property rights.

Probably 10% to 0%. None of the big parties seem to be offering anything decent, or at least none without bundling in a handful of huge fishhooks.


It's just the same old discredited neo-liberal nonsense from Act.
It's funny, many years ago I fell for it and voted for them.
Then saw the error of my ways.
I quite like Seymour, though.


Likewise, when I was young and stupid/ignorant the libertarian philosophy sounded good. But "f you, i got mine" doesn't really work on a society scale. I support the euthanasia bill, watching an extended family member get struck down with dementia, I sure would like to be able to sign out if I end up there.


There's still elements of libertarian philosophy that strongly appeal to me.
But on a society-wide level, their policies would just enrich the rich and widen inequality. Trickle down is nonsense.


The only stuff that trickles down is warm and yellow

You know we've tried this experiment hundreds of times throughout history? The evidence is in. Ask the likes of Venezuela, Maoist China, East Germany, Russia, North Korea, UK after WWII, Laos, much of Africa how the experiment worked out for them.


Of course, there is nothing between libertarianism and full blown communism, despite the fact you've been living in it your entire bloody life. Ffs.

You seem to think that maximising the free market based on the evidence that this maximises human prosperity, supported by a modest social safety net equates to"f you, i got mine"

Neither ACT (who support public healthcare and education, sickness and disability benefit, regulated unemployment benefit etc), nor National are anarcho-capitalist parties.

Modest safety net, lol, like that would last longer than it took to run the red pen through the legislation if libertarians ever got in power.

ACT are proposing a modest social safety net. Look at their policies. They aren’t an ancap party. Their goal is to reduce poverty and maximise human wellbeing, not screw the poor. They care about the poor and disadvantaged just as much, if not more, than Labour and the Greens. They just understand economics and therefore realise that the free market system is the best tool to deliver this outcome.


Ever hear of the overton window? They aren't stupid enough to publically step outside the overton window, same as the greens left wing faction aren't. They might claim to care, but their philosophy is antithesis to a decent social structure, they will not acheive anything in reducing wealth inequality. And no, a totally free market never acheives good outcomes, the profit motive drive excesses including exploitation. Lovely example of human behaviour today on the front page of stuff.

ACT aren't proposing a totally free market. They aren't an ancap party. Don't try read their minds about what their inner motivations are. Instead, look at the past 200 years of practical evidence regarding what delivers greatest human prosperity.

What has delivered this notion of human "prosperity" has relied very much on expansion, of growth, mainly in our numbers. It is finally beginning to dawn on us we cannot do that forever, we have done so much damage to the natural world. ACT type policies will not work if we are to put some of this to rights.

The complete lack of free markets in the last 200 years speaks for itself. Society has never gone there, becuase people are well aware of the disaster it would be. Regulations generally keep increasing in response to the results of lack of regulation and the nasty problems that generates.

Again, ACT isn't proposing a totally free market. They recognise that some regulation is required to address market failure (e.g. taxing externalities, mandatory insurance), as well as a social safety net for those who can't provide for themselves for reasons beyond their control. But generally speaking, when you understand basic economics, you come to realise that the free market allocates resources most efficiently and government meddling leads to unintended consequences. E.g. the "deadweight loss" inefficiency associated with higher taxes is disregarded by the economically illiterate left, and those who raise this issue are greedy/uncaring and just don't realise that "tax is love". Nevermind that it doesn't actually improve the wellbeing of the populous in reality.

Well said DD - agree totally


Haven't we just had nearly 40 years of the neoliberal experiment? We know what the outcome of this was. Who said
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."?

Your Labour buddies just gave something different a crack and failed miserably at a huge cost to NZ. That is the norm for Labour.

Tell me about the "failure" and the "huge cost"....

To my mind, one of the most distortionary actions of government in the housing market is the Accommodation Supplement. Why do you think they failed to address that?

So you'd rather there was no supplement and the govt instead used the money to hire out still more Motels for homeless? You can't have it both ways

Freeze the accommodation supplement and build more state houses, then taper the accommodation supplements off to nothing. There is no instant fix.

I don't know about freezing it.. maybe inflation index it. As for building more state housing, this pack of inept ne'erdoanythings haven't built that many in 2 1/2 years, another 2 1/2 won't be much different

You’re right, better get National in there to build another 30k in 9 years..face meet palm

haha, it was an aspirational goal

Aspirational own goal


No, I'd rather they stopped subsidising landlords and let rental costs return to a market price, based on ability (of the market) to pay.

I don't think the current euthanasia bill allows for it in the case of dementia (it rules out mental illnesses as a covered condition), and also you have to have less than 6 months to live in the opinions of two different doctors. Sure with dementia you are more likely to develop other bad health conditions, but people with dementia can also live for decades, unfortunately.

Correct, but its a step in the right direction

Lanthanide: euthanasia was working perfectly well before Seymour's grandstanding intervention. In 1996 my father had had Alzheimer's for at least 12 years, probably longer.
He had deteriorated gradually over that time until he was a complete vegetable. Myself, my mother and the nursing staff all realized that there was no quality of life whatsoever. The nursing staff phoned one day to say that he had contracted pneumonia and did we want him treated. My mother couldn't make the decision so I made it for her, and it was the right one. We visited him that night and he passed away in the early hours of the morning.
I have just put my mother in a rest home at the age of 96 yrs on the recommendation of the hospital gerontologist and her GP. She has the beginnings of dementia and heart failure. The head nurse the other day asked me if I would want her resuscitated if she had say a heart attack. I made the common sense decision to say no.
To my knowledge these decisions were made without any reference to any euthanasia legislation which I'm not even sure is yet legislated for.
I would recommend that no-one has any authority to comment on euthanasia unless they have had direct experience with it.
What I really detest is the likes of Catholic Maggie Barry sticking her oar in. Catholics should address their own problems like pedophile priests and over- population advocacy.

What you described is not euthanasia.

Well, Pragmatist, what would you call it? My dictionary describes euthanasia as the deliberate killing of a person by any direct human agency or the with-holding of any act of human agency, in order to relieve otherwise untreatable human suffering and with that person deemed not to have the prospect of any remaining quality of life.
I would think my actions would fall within the definition of (my directing) the with-holding of human agency to treat.

One is a DNR order. Neither are voluntary euthanasia decided by the patient.

You're both right, to a degree: generally speaking there are two types of euthanasia, active and passive (passive being withholding treatment knowing a person will likely die). Passive euthanasia has always been legal, simply because you can't force someone to have a medical treatment they don't want. Seymour's bill is specifically active euthanasia (actually killing someone or helping them to kill themselves).

al123 thanks. Yes, you could define euthanasia in terms of active and passive.......well said. I agree that passive euthanasia is 'withholding treatment knowing a person will likely die'. My only quibble would be that in my father's case he had full-blown Alzheimers, a vegetative state, so your definition of passive euthanasia in your second sentence ,"forcing someone to have a medical treatment THEY DON'T WANT"isn't relevant because there is no way he was capable of making any kind of decision as to whether he would want or not-want medical treatment for his pneumonia.
I'll take your word for it that Seymour's bill may address only 'active euthanasia', but surely that would only apply to 'helping them to kill themselves' and not 'actually killing someone' which of course would be murder.
So, I stand corrected if Seymour's bill refers only to 'voluntary euthanasia' involving only compos mentis patients; I was addressing the subject of euthanasia generally (without the 'voluntary' qualification).

It is relevant in cases like your father's, because in cases where a person can't make decisions for themselves, its generally the next of kin whose consent is required. The point is that medical treatment requires the consent of the person themselves or their proxy. So it would still count as passive euthanasia in your father's case.

The bill includes both helping someone to kill themselves (e.g. giving them the means to do so) and killing them (e.g. administering a lethal dose of a drug), but of course only in circumstances where the person wishes it. The latter isn't necessarily murder, morally speaking. Not all killings are murders. A soldier who kills an enemy combatant in battle isn't a murderer, for example. Administering a lethal dose of a drug is currently murder, legally speaking. The aim of the bill is to change that in a particular set of circumstances.

al123 Yes, I sort of agree with your first paragraph, and I do consider that a form of passive euthanasia. My only hesitation would be in the pre-appointment of a proxy; Alzheimers is completely different from a state, of say, terminal cancer where the person is usually fully compos mentis but in excruciating pain, and can convey his request to say his or her spouse,etc (fully considered consent); however, Alzheimers strikes randomly (according to current research and my observation) and unexpectedly, and by the time it is diagnosed it is too late for the person to make a rational decision on how and when they would wish to end it.
The case with my 96 yr old mother is different again: she has recently gone into a rest home and for some time over the last year has acquired a little dementia not full-blown Alzheimers. The rest-home nurse mentioned to me the other day that they had noticed this and asked me if I would want my mother resuscitated if she had something serious like a heart attack (she has been diagnosed with mild heart failure) but in less serious cases (eg a laceration caused by say a fall) they would admit her to hospital. I had to make a judgement call on the spot and say not to resuscitate her in the case of the serious scenario. Fortunately, I do have a Power of Attorney but it can only be activated
by a gerontologist which the nurse said she would arrange. Now this is something my mother is of sound enough mind (probably) to discuss this 'heart attack' scenario with....but I'm not entirely confident that I should......she is on the cusp of being unable to fully understand the implications of this decision I have already made. There are other complicated family matters that I am tip-toeing brother is a practised con-man and gambler ( yes a real one!) and would have 'cleaned my mother out' of her sizable savings if I had drawn him into the decision-making process, and my sister is slightly backward and incapable of such decisions.
Neither in my father's nor my mother's case is there any rule-book only my common sense. I would venture to say that these are the types of cases most families are going to have to face in the future......and not that minority that are of full mental capacity but wish to die to avoid excruciating pain.
So, the DNR (do not resuscitate) that Pragmatist so glibly presents as a 'catch-all bag' for all euthanasia cases that are not voluntary, would only apply to a very few real-life situations.

My wife and I made that decision with two parents. Legalized euthanasia will be a minefield. The legal bills alone will drive many to seek it. My opinion of Seymour is that he’s a clever button pusher being controlled by a very powerful, very wealthy idealogue. Many of us know who that person is. His basic philosophy, espoused by Reagan and Thatcher, is that only the rich have rights. The rest are cannon fodder.

Interesting to see a few days ago a breakdown of how important climate change is for voters of various parties. ACT showed about 70% not concerned or something for a later time. The problem with the sort of thinking that gives us policies like those of ACT is that you cannot factor in things like that or the whole damned thing falls over like a house of cards.
Yeah, Seymour is okay, he does seem to be genuine in what he believes, but I do not agree with him, especially as you can count me among those who very much believe the environment is A#1 as without a healthy environment, we will soon have nothing, anthropogenic climate change and the limits to growth, all of which need to be ignored in order for policies of the likes of ACT to work.

So you'll be voting Green then? You seem to miss the point that you can't by green until you're in the black financially. While NZ only produces < 0.2% of global GHGs maybe people are rightly more focussed on more pressing problems - like paying their bills

In which case we will never do it and a far as I'm concerned it's no longer a matter of choice

Well put it this way. I don't like the prospect of the rest of the world saying "gee look at that quaint little country down in the South Pacific. 100% renewable, 100% sustainable but 100% BROKE!!"

Way to keep kicking the can down the road.

I prefer to call it pragmatism. If you don't agree you can always move to a high emitting country and attempt change there. NZ needs to quit the virtue signalling, especially when it's profoundly expensive.

No, if you want to carry on, business as usual, you can move to the high emitting country

ACT are only interested in empowering and enriching the rich. Let's be serious here. And this year it looks like they've adopted a number of the gun lobby into their party.

And notice as well, that they didn't mention Accommodation Supplement. The cynic would say that they don't want to risk losing the landlord class.

David Seymour is a renter himself and wants to deliver affordable housing through the best mechanism possible - the free market. That said, I’m sure he sees noting wrong with landlords, unlike the irrational left that have demonised them due to a combination of economic ineptitude and envy.

Knowing ACT’s position on welfare and government spending, are you really suggesting that they support the accomodation supplement?

New Zealand delivered affordable housing during most of the 20th century, through the government. The government could do this again. Build up a surplus of houses, and the accomodation supplement won't be needed.

How's that lovely idea working out for us these days? Need I mention the K word?

What I'm suggesting is government acquiring land, by compulsory purchase if necessary, and doing the developments themselves.

Great idea until you're the one subject to the compulsory purchase for less than market value. Present Govt couldn't develop a decent cup of coffee, let alone housing - they tried that and failed dismally.

I don't hoard land (or any of the other "investments" those here obsess over), and nor do most of my fellow citizens.

Why are you on a financial site then? Did you suddenly develop an interest three months ago, old bloke?

I used to just read what was posted here, for interest, you might say, but I thought I'd join so that I could keep up with new posts on each article. I also like to poke the bear, occasionally.

Another arrogant comment Ex Expat. You act like this is your exclusive domain. Do you think the rest of us don't have a right to comment?

I get more out of the comments section than many of the articles - economics is surely a study of psychology over mathematics.
overtly projecting ones status or privilege reeks of ...

Knowing ACT’s position on welfare and government spending, are you really suggesting that they support the accomodation supplement?

I'm not saying it - they are!!!!!

Yes, I'd like to see a free market approach to housing from them as well. But, no, they're running on the basis of the rent subsidy continuing.

I think they stand for fairness and equality. Why subsidise one group with income related rents and not another. AS was a national policy under Richardson and Bolger (aka bludger) in the 90s and every govt since has continued and extended it so I think its here to stay.

I haven’t actually seen them mention the accomodation supplement. If asked, I can’t imagine Seymour saying he thinks the accomodation supplement is a good idea. But if they have said they support it I stand corrected.

One could suggest that Labour canned Kiwibuild through their incompetence, while giving interest free year one university education as a political vote buying policy that didn't achieve anything other than increase dropout rates without increasing education participation. I don't vote Act, but at least he addresses thorny issues about failed policies, with alternative solutions.
The likelihood that he ever gets to fully implement his policies is Nil, so it's a good platform for differentiating; much like the Greens Envy Taxes, again unlikely to be implemented unless they play hardball if Labour can't get 50% this election. Mind you, some of the Labour hard left would be able to implement their desires and blame the Greens.

Agreed AKL, the 1st yr free was blatant vote buying as was the Kiwibuild promise. Look for more undeliverable promises, although as Roger Kerr mentioned in his article Labour may think they're home and hosed and won't need to promise much of anything (aspirational or not)

Time to Act

What does "working out how to provide infrastructure" actually mean
Freeing up land ... yay but that comes with a huge cost.
David Seymour does not have answers, he makes sweeping statements that sound good with little substance. Jenee asked him a good question about private insurers needing assurance through rigorous inspections which he could not answer. Making comparisons to aircraft to justify lowered house prices that are of better quality by either doing away with inspections or telling the inspector to turn a blind eye is a joke.

Under the private insurance regime new builds would still be inspected throughout the process, but it would be done by the insurance company's inspectors, not the council. As is usually the case with the private sector, they would be more efficient and the insurer would be highly incentivised to catch any problems during their inspections because if the building has defects they are the ones that will be footing the bill.

Didn't we try this in the 1990s? What happened to the inspection service companies when the "leaky building" problem popped up?


Act's policies sound great in theory but many of them are full of practical flaws.

Did we? Please explain. You know that leaky buildings were built right through the 2000s. If an insurance based system like ACT is proposing has been tried, please provide links to the details.

The leaky building disaster was due to a combination allowing untreated timber, monolithic cladding that is water-tight in theory but not in practice, not requiring cavity systems for cladding, and the popularity of Mediterranean style houses with flat roofs/no eaves/balconies on top of rooms.

And you missed out another large contributing factor, perhaps you weren't aware of it?

Building consent sign-off was opened up to private companies, in exactly the same way that Seymour is proposing. These companies signed off houses as per the code that allowed all the things you spoke of. Then when the leaky buildings became evident, the consenting companies all went out of business and hid behind their limited liability protection of being a company to get out of being liable for the dodgy consents.

What in Seymour's proposal would prevent a similar situation occurring again?

The private sector effed up and the councils were left to foot the bills as others either disappeared and wound up the company or carked it.

My take was he proposed mandatory building insurance with the inspections undertaken by the insurance companies or their nominees. That sort of structure would certainly have prevented the Bella Vista debacle.

Prevented bella vista.. if prevents bad buildings then why the need for insurance. I think the opposite, more bella vistas.

I think it's more about shifting financial accountability to large organisations. Having said that it doesn't seem to have worked well in ChCh so obviously some work to be done on the process, but the idea has merit IMV. Bella Vista was directly attributable to poor council processes and oversight. IMO the council CEO should have been fired, and the Planning manager and the Consents manager.

Council inspectors were told to go easy because Cancian was taking council to court. Even the builders on site were not happy but did nothing about it, as it would have affected their jobs/contracts. Cancian effectively manipulated them to his objectives. That is still just an isolated case?

They were going easy and misinspecting well before any threat of legal action. I can give you other examples but there isn't the space here, it definitely isn't isolated, just higher profile.

Why would the insurance companies want to take on the liability?

They'd only do it if they can profit off it. That means it'll be more expensive than the councils doing it, since they work on a cost recovery basis only.

And if an insurance company managed to preside over a monumental fuckup, they'd either shut up shop or be bailed out anyway, so nothing really has been achieved (see AMI post CHCH earthquakes).

When do you think building code sign-off went from private contractors to councils? Was this an insurance based system similar to what ACT is proposing? Links would be much appreciated.

"companies signed off houses as per the code" just shows that the code is the issue, not the approval method.
Anybody inspecting poor practice condoned under the building code would have had the same outcomes. As the councils implement the standards, bad practice gets approved, when many of us could see years before the big debacle, that monolithic cladding was something to steer clear of. I was buying a home in the early 2000's in Auckland, and even then you were a mug to buy one of those houses, they were already an issue, yet council continued to allow those building standards for years afterwards.

Making the insurer responsible for the later outcomes of the work of the inspectors means that they will be much more aggressive in terms of standards, and rorts like dodgy builders removing insulation or concrete reinforcing after the pre-inspection will be less likely to happen.

"You know that leaky buildings were built right through the 2000s."
Please fact check yourself DD not right through 2000s. Yes the causes of leaky buildings you're right, but there were others, completely shoddy workmanship around roofs/flashing, cowboys in the industry. New systems have since been introduced, Licenced builders, construction techniques, healthy homes. DS is at least 10 years too late, it makes no sense at all. I think he is jumping on the bandwagon with populist criticism that sounds good in theory in election season.

You should read ‘Rottenomics’ by Peter Dyer. He did about a decade’s worth of research. His view is that they were being built well past 2004, even saying there were some being built when he published the book in 2019. But it is true that the number drastically reduced after the Building Act was reformed in 2004.

All buildings leak. The question is what happens once the water is inside. And how easy it is to get there in the first place.

Read rottenomics. It's a very factual read.

Yes, but the term “leaky building” is used pretty much exclusively to refer to buildings where water ingress is or is likely to cause problems.

"inspected throughout the process, but it would be done by the insurance company's inspectors, not the council. As is usually the case with the private sector, they would be more efficient and the insurer would be highly incentivised to catch any problems during their inspections because if the building has defects they are the ones that will be footing the bill."
How does this differ from what we have, so what's the point of insurance. How would it more efficient, they would have to employ trained inspectors. Have you ever dealt with council inspectors, they are good because they keep builders on their game. Builders can be devious, no offence kezza. Also more potential for corruption to come in

" Have you ever dealt with council inspectors, they are good because they keep builders on their game." In my years of home ownership and builds I'm yet to meet an Inspector who actually knew what he was doing. Most inspections have been cursory, rushed and mostly a "box ticking" exercise. I had an inspector the other day turn up to inspect footings for a two storey block and tile home.. he admitted he was actually a plumbing inspector, the footings "looked right" (no measuring or consulting of plans), signed them off and went his merry way. This isn't an isolated occurrence either.

The inspectors we've had are thorough, checking the plans, taking photos and keeping records, and a little nit-picky, I think that's what you want.

Definitely HW, I guess it's a resourcing problem, but it's not acceptable. If you give them a windup then suddenly you face inexplicable "processing delays". If ACT pledged to to give the Local Govt gravy train a good shakeup and introduce some KPIs and accountability, that wouldn't go astray either

"If you give them a windup then suddenly you face inexplicable "processing delays"
That is the same for all organisations, try it at your local cafe. Give them an unreasonable windup and the staff will point you out to each other or worse. Council staff are by and large excellent and focused on their jobs which have expanded due to legislation that's been put on them. The new NPS policy statement is going to push them to be more balanced and allow more development. It's a good move in the right direction, I like it.

Well that maybe true HW, regarding the local cafe but you can always take your business elsewhere. Not so with the council and they know it

What would you need to give council staff a windup over. If its that they're slow, I find other service businesses even worse. The council ladies I speak to are nice and helpful so I try and make their day a little better, doesnt move me up the list but oh well.

Firstly disclaimer that I don’t work for council
I have had quite challenging experience with businesses and no recourse to any intervention
On the other hand when I had an issue with council there was a clear path to escalate the issue

I like much of what he says although his time scale is too optimistic. Not sure of the GST cut. 5 or 6 MPs will have little influence on the Nats and it seems that ACT will pull disgruntled Nat voters so overall a wasted vote as Nats plus ACT combined at the moment won't cut a majority

If ACT displaces NZF it'll be more than worth it. Nats won't be the only ones losing votes

Let me counter. This will be my 10th election in which I will be voting. In that time, the parties that I have voted for have without exception failed to deliver on the lies they foisted on a gullible electorate in the vote buying year leading up to the ballot. ACT will be getting both my votes this year and I have no prior expectation of what they can achieve. If they achieve anything other than countering Bullsh*t First and the Green Party then my vote will NOT be wasted. Call it a protest vote if you will, but standby to be surprised this year, there will be tens of thousands of ex National voters (and ex Labour voters) who have come to the same exasperated decision as me.

So you want to attempt to inflict a punitive and unsophisticated regime on the country, which, judging from past performance, will increase inequality, for the benefit of a few, just for your own egostistical satisfaction? You're an ACT supporter, all right...

Beats the cr@p out of voting NZF oldfella

I admire Winnie, as a survivor, and as an irritant to the hapless right - but I wouldn't vote for him.

What is your definition of punitive old fella? That the weak should be supported but only to a level at which they have become accustomed? We as a poorly performing economy suffering from high costs and low wages at the arse end of the world cannot go on pretending that we are first world. Green policies are for countries that can afford them (Germany) socialist policies are for countries that can afford them (Netherlands) equality is for countries that can afford it (Scandinavia) We should be aiming to keep our children's heads above the level of India and Brazil (but we are not really). My ego doesn't enter into this, I fear for the future of my children and will happily throw your children under the bus to ensure their future if that is what it takes. I am an ACT supporter this time all right... but that's because EVERY previous government in my lifetime (we're going back to Holyoake here) has been a failure.

"My ego doesn't enter into this, I fear for the future of my children and will happily throw your children under the bus to ensure their future if that is what it takes. I am an ACT supporter this time all right.". Sounds about right for an ACT voter

Well you certainly can't fault Wazim's honesty

Like you would do different? Really? Do you lie to yourself as well or just to us?

We are in a society, not a war. Take your attitude and it will be just as likely, maybe more, that it is someone else throwing your kids under the bus in order to save theirs.

That is the nature of a competitive capitalist culture. "I will lie about my address to get my kids into the better school" or "I will lie about my income to cheat the taxman" etc. etc. If you are not aware of this in our society, then I suggest my kids will DEFINITELY get ahead of yours simply because their dad is more aware than you are.


$200K should be the top salary in the Wellingon civil service. So CEOs - everybody else less.
The old saying of "pay peanuts and you get monkeys" is demonstrated to be wrong. We pay enormous salaries now, there are still plenty of monkeys there.

You will get absolute monkeys at that salary level. Why would anybody competent step up to that level of responsibility and public scrutiny when they can earn the same as a decent project manager, several rungs down the ladder in stress and responsibility.

That’s right. NZ public sector organisations have to pay more partly because these entities are larger and more complex than most private businesses in the country. Barring a few management positions higher up in the ranks, most multinationals simply have sales and back office presence in NZ, so the salaries offered are lower than what the state sector offers.

Might work if there's a private sector pay ratio/cap in place as well (tho of course that's not going to jive with Act's philosophy).

I can't see a massive brain drain problem developing when NZ's social contract has never looked so good relative to the rest of the world.

No idea if this would work but fun to think outside the box.

There are million dollar salaries in the private sector pragmatist. Many of them are disaster CEOs all the same.

So limiting your self to only hiring the ones that can't demand a $400k+ salary in the private sector is going to improve the quality of those in the public service? lmao.

Given that less than 8 hours ago AFP reported the WHO suggesting a " lengthy" epidemic, which implies a decades long contraction, I wonder if Seymours ideas have any credibility

"a decades long contraction" will see 95% of New Zealand workers paying max 17.5% tax then, as competition for what work is available will see wage rates plunge. What did I read not that long ago; that the average wage in Greece is €500 per month? That's probably coming here under that circumstance....

You can also buy a perfectly nice house in Greece for under 100K euros.

What flavour of Government is responsible for that? Socialists?

European Union

Some interesting ideas from David. Under the current regime (and previous regimes), ever more inefficient government spending seems the order of the day. A great example is JA's enthusiasm for "free" school lunches. My kids go to a low decile school so I'll be first on the list. Why should I (and every other parent) pay $5 in tax to get $2:50 lunch for my kids? My kids are quite capable of making marmite sandwiches.


Disappointing you're looking at it through the "what's in it for me" lens. What about the kids who aren't given lunch or breakfast at all? Do you begrudge them a feed?

Give a man a fish and you will be feeding him everyday. A good parent feeds their kids well but also teaches them to do it for themselves.

That's the whole crux of the problem HW.. there aren't enough "good " parents in low decile areas so the state has to intervene, not just with lunches either unfortunately

Any child who turns up to school hungry having not had breakfast and without lunch should have their name referred to the Mobile Mongrel Mob to check out the parents. Supplying lunch and breakfast by the State sweeps the problem under the carpet. How does the State determine who is hungry or not. All parents in such a condition receive enough welfare to feed their children. Where is the money going? Why spend the money when the school will feed them?

Maybe getting your kids fed is a perk for parents who do work and pay tax, as opposed to a get-out-of-jail free card for parents who can't be stuffed. At some point you are arguing for kids to go hungry and reframing it as a benefit for those who effective parents makes it far more palatable than getting out of your tree about those who aren't going to feed their kids either way.

I'm not looking at it through a "what's in it for me" lens. I'm a believer in parents (even the low income ones) know best how to spend their money. My kids school (and most low decide schools) has free breakfast provided for those who need it sponsored by sanatarium and fonterra. My concern is that like so many well-meaning government initiatives once they are implemented they become "sacred-cows" and can never be removed regardless of their severe inefficiencies.

Ok Kauri, I'll accept your first point. Your second point about parents knowledge I do take issue with however. As I said that's the crux of the problem. Not all parents in low decile areas are poor parents but there is a high enough percentage from which the majority of our social ills stem from. The entire Welfare system stemmed from well meaning initiatives. By their very nature most of the initiatives are highly inefficient but as they are deemed a social good they will continue. If there was an expectation to gain meaningful qualifications and thus employment in return for the Welfare it could increase the efficiency of some payments.

I mean sure if you're simply looking at it in dollar terms then school lunches may not be a particularly good up-front cost if it costs $5 to deliver a meal 'worth' $2.50 (your figures are completely dubious anyway).

But that would be typical right-wing short-sighted accounting, that doesn't consider the education and welfare of the future workforce. Literally in this case, as people who have poor educational outcomes for example from being starving due to not having any food to eat, are more likely to go onto welfare in the future and cost far more over their lifetimes than that extra $5 in tax to provide them lunch would have cost.

Where do you get the $5 from?

I pulled it out of my #### :) But my point is not "free"lunches but pointing out that their is no free lunch and government spending will always have inefficiencies. For health and education i think most agree that the inefficiencies are worth the public good but around the edges we should give people more freedom.

I find this right wing talking point amusing. When a govt does it, there are "inefficiencies", when its a private company it becomes "economies of scale".

When private companies do it they get more for less, hence "economy of scale". When Govt does it they get less for more, hence "inefficiencies".. pretty simple really

Amazing how it only ever happens that way.. or maybe it doesn't?

Private companies have to make a profit and public services don't. Supposedly public services don't have any genuine accountability, so they're more likely to waste money, but it seems to me it is unlikely that any waste in a public service would be substantially more than the waste that occurs in a private company + private company's profit margin.

yes, having watched last month about $4m of never used (in production) automation gear I helped design get sent to scrap by a certain large NZ company, I laugh at this idea.

There must have been a pretty compelling reason it got scrapped.. sure it actually worked?? lol

Yeah it worked just fine, it was fully commissioned and tested with dummy product. We've since done several $m more of sales to the same company, for similar gear, including what is effectively the replacement for that system, part of a decade long relationship with the company.

The problem was some executive had some big dreams of a mega distribution system and they didn't bother checking the reality of their business case with the guys on the ground (when we got asked to design it the engineers asked questions, it didn't make sense to us*, but my boss wasn't saying no to a $x million sale, and a six figure per annum ongoing revenue stream for the next 20 years or so).

I hear that manager is no longer with the company for some reason, I guess being responsible for >$20m of losses isn't a good career move. (our project wasn't the only complete balls-up in the larger scheme)

*adding 60 truck movements per day up Aucklands southern motorway was the first red flag.

yeah, I hear what you're saying about inept managers. The company I contract to spends vast amounts of money trying to save chump change. It's all short termism.

It was my observation that competence is inversely proportional to salary.

Try telling Tesla or Uber that..

Precisely - heaps of other countries have school lunches. It seems massively inefficient to me that in a school of (say) 500 kids, you have 500 parents spending time shopping for, preparing, and cleaning up after lunches. Surely it's way more efficient in terms of time and would probably work out cheaper overall to do it in bulk.

Depends, you can chase the $ like they do in some American schools and provide utterly crap food because it's cheap or subsidised by local businesses.

It ends up being cheap but not necessarily good or sufficient.

I’ll give an example. A relative of mine living in another country was bragging to me not too long ago how they had won a contract to provide food for a state prison. He sourced cheap food, cheap labour to cook it etc and creamed the profits. Now good for him, but too often we get the worst of both worlds; Government inefficiency and private enterprise taking a profit for that inefficiency.

So now parenting has fallen victim to the "efficiency equation" It'd be more efficient to breed and put the kid in a hostel then? Or maybe pay people not to breed - that's an idea!

Slippery slope fallacy. I'm just suggesting that one task parents perform could be more efficiently performed if done by others. That's true of a lot of things - my Grandma used to sew and knit all my mothers clothes. By the time I came along it was way more efficient and cost effective to just buy kids clothes. That shift didn't lead to the dystopian nightmare you are suggesting, and there's no reason to suspect school lunches - which lots of countries have - would either.

I was taking a poke at your "efficiency" argument. Incidentally, the clothing your Grandma made was probably better quality and made from NZ materials, unlike the cheap imported cr@p people buy now. Back in your Grandma's day we had a working and viable clothing industry.. now well gone, so maybe that dystopian future has come about after all, you just aren't seeing it

I know you were taking a poke at the efficiency argument. That's why I took the time to explain why your 'poke' wasn't very good as you committed the slippery slope fallacy.

I don't know, I thought paying people not to breed instead of the other way around has merit.

If you either can't afford to feed your own kids or cant be bothered to cook then dont have them in the first place. We are becoming a weak heavily dependent nation. My wife and I waited before we had children and it hasn't been plain sailing but is definitely worth it. The oldest one is excited to have got a well paying first job.

Too right Houseworks, so true. These lazy bludging socialists really don’t get it. The free market has created the most prosperous society we’ve ever seen, and frankly, if you haven’t got any cash it’s your own fault. Get some bloody bootstraps and pull yourself up!!! Now, some bloody pinko might say that the world is a bit more nuanced than that, and perhaps if you’re born into a dysfunctional family in a low socioeconomic area with few opportunities, life might be harder for you than for a kid born into a stable family in a safe, warm house in grey lynn with educated parents. Loser lefties might say, hey that kid exists regardless of my moralising and perhaps, since they’re hungry, we ought to feed them - if only because it’ll help create a better worker in future to ensure the gears of capitalism can continue to grind along. But they’re raving loony lefties let’s be honest. Frankly, if you can’t afford to feed your kids then you should do the honourable thing - a burlap sack into the nearest river.

I don’t consider myself right wing, but rather enjoy debating both sides. I’m surprised how much debate a query about “free” lunches has generated. I’m off to plant trees. Ka kite.

Kauri's trees?

ACT certainly speak a lot of sense. Many of the policies are workable and probably overdue. Have been a long term Nat voter but maybe time to rethink. There is a considerable amount of wasteful Govt spending going on eg. interest free SLs, paying people to have children they otherwise can't really afford (WfF,FS packages) fees free study on spurious degrees and the list goes on.Removing council inspection services is also a winner. Capping Kiwisaver admin fees should be implemented if they're talking about removing the Govt contribution. Good idea about the Tax rate too

Wouldn't be my cup of tea but Seymour has been very good for ACT. Hopefully he can pick up a few votes from National to keep parliament balanced.

David Seymour should study Sectoral Balances and learn what happens to the private sector when the government cuts its spending and runs surpluses, i.e poverty and household debt rise. He should also study MMT and then he would understand that the government creates new currency when it spends and the taxation and borrowing do not fund it.

In the end, the (M)agic (M)oney (T)ree isn't going to save anyone. We are all going to be hung from one of its boughs.
(NB: The Romans belatedly figured that our 2,000 years ago when they started cutting bits off their own currency, coinage, to melt down to make 'new' money)

haha true. MMT is an unproven esoteric theory.

Do you have a better theory for where money comes from? Maybe it is dug up out of the ground or it comes from outer space, maybe the Chinese have a factory where they can manufacture NZ dollars.
Money creation is in fact a function of the state, it is either created by the Reserve Bank to finance the governments spending or it is created by the banks under the authority and control of the reserve Bank.

The only magic money tree is the one that orthodox economists believe in, they in fact have no idea where money comes from if you ask them.

MMT is a joke, monetary debasement is more like prehistoric monetary theory.

It is how our monetary system operates whether you believe it or not. Beardsley Ruml director of the New York Federal Reserve Bank (1937–1947), and its chairman from 1941 until 1946; had this to say in 1945, since the end of the gold standard "Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete". The real purposes of taxes were: to "stabilize the purchasing power of the dollar", to "express public policy in the distribution of wealth and of income", "in subsidizing or in penalizing various industries and economic groups" and to "isolate and assess directly the costs of certain national benefits, such as highways and social security"
Economist Wynne Godley who wrote the theory of sectoral balances was an economist at the British Treasury and he also would have understood how government finances operate.

Japan Acted Like the Virus Had Gone. Now It’s Spread Everywhere. [""]

ACT were a primary driver behind what happened in NZ from 1984-99.
In a recent book on Waitangi, I read that GDP growth in that period was 0.5% pa.
Quite an achievement. Also, 1978-2003, non house-owning wealth declined by 50%.
Theory is one thing and reality another.
When Equabb was asked on Q and A last week, what he thought would be needed for National plan to cut $10b off the public expenditure over next 10 years he said "magic" and said it was impossible.

ACT Party was founded in 1993

ooops, puts paid to mike's theory

Sure, if you ignore who the founders and leaders were.. otherwise you just look a bit silly.

The David Lange government is regarded by some as the First Act Government of New Zealand.

Act's policies can only work if we have a true free market. Allowing central banks to centrally plan the economy create the major problems for Act's policies...

Act's policies are pie in the sky, then.

NZ has been going round the dance floor for 200 years. The 1st NZ Parliament was a term of the Parliament of New Zealand. It opened on 24 May 1854, following NZ's first general election. We've had elections ever since. Parliamentary Parties have come and gone. And still they can't get it right.

A good system of anything should be capable of meeting all conditions. There should be automatic stabilisers.which can expand and contract and are capable of accommodating the good times and dealing with the bad times

NZ has absorbed 500,000 migrants in the last 5 years. Population increased by 1,200,000 in the last 20 years. In that time poverty has increased. The gap between rich and poor has increased. So that hasn't worked. The burghers with their hands on the levers of power can't see that. So they won't do anything about it. Is the poorest segment of NZ society growing faster than the richest segment ? or is it shrinking ?. It's growing.

If Seymour's tax of 17% was implemented that gap would expand even more. More Motels.
Hang about, he's not providing for more Motels

One of the few parties to actually push their policies this election.

NZs productivity is dismal, the public service especially so. The OECD average labour prod growth over the last 20 years was 2% NZ's, 1.4%. The public health sector was 0.8% and education -1.4%. Seymour proposes a clumsy cap to public service salaries policy but at least has the courage to be the only political leader willing to begin confronting the sacred cow of an underperforming public service which is a significant drag on our economic performance.

Our public service management is a bloated tumour that needs lancing, excising and amalgamated. Some externally set and monitored KPIs by a commercial 3rd party would bring some much needed performance enhancement and accountability. I'm talking about non-elected bureaucrats here not elected community reps. We could start with DHBs, then Regional Councils and then Local Councils. Plow the associated wage savings back into the respective entities operating budgets.

Union power in government sectors such as health and education makes the type of specific KPIs you advocate not possible. The CoL has abandoned specific output performance measures for many key services, replacing them with meaningless generic input orientated indicators . Through various relationships I'm tapped into I regularly hear the frustrations of some quality senior public servants about their inability to performance manage people who are only semi functional in their roles and who would never foot it in the real world. The waste of resource is appalling.

So what are you trying to measure, with these KPIs? Why don't these "frustrated managers" of yours hie themselves off to private industry? I believe that the managerialising of society has done nothing for human happiness, although it seems to have produced inflated salaries for those who reach the exalted heights.

Your abstruse comments about 'managerialising of society' reveal an ignorance of the prosperity and excellent public services great managers deliver. Without effective KPIs to which employees are held accountable we get the mediocrity and inefficiencies which typifies too much of NZs public service. Official productivity data reveals a compelling story.

Effective KPIs? no such thing unless you job is one dimensional they dont work because managers don't know how to set or measure effective KPIs and employees will game the KPIs and disincentivises teamwork as the only value of a KPI is your relative performance to your peers.

OK, sounds like that has been your personal experience. I suspect because you've not been exposed to meaningful KPI processes. I managed large people groups for decades and my experience is they are one of the most effective management tools if done well. Some staff do try to game the system where objectives are too generic and don't conform to SMART principles or are not properly aligned to quality strategic and action plans. Government department inefficiencies are caused by wider systemic and attitudinal issues than just poor KPIs and Seymours plan to cap senior salaries is hopelessly unsophisticated but he is a lone political voice in calling out public sector wastage and for that is to be commended.

Well I do not doubt managers think they are an effective management tool, mostly an effort to simplify their own jobs to barking at graphs. Unless your job itself is not very specfic no KPI will be meaningful, the goal usually is not performance but just to slap something on a report for the next layer of middlemanagement to say hey look at our "performance" with no context.

Government department inefficiencies are caused by the goals we give them, the difference between public and private is not efficiency but the ability to choose to do only what is profitable.

Seeing as we are on about politics, here's an American, casual view of what we might be in for. (as relevant today as a few weeks back when it was written). Maybe David Seymour is trying to 'hit the brakes'?

As I’ve said on numerous occasions, through many posts, Tweets and comments over the years, we are staring, with jaws agape, at the greatest, most horrific confluence of policy mistakes in the history of economic theory, financial management, and National Security…none of the data above tells me that there is any possibility whatsoever of a “V shape” recovery on the way, or for that matter anywhere on the horizon…..I’ve been writing about this for years, hoping and praying that I’ve been totally and completely dead wrong. I’ve even penned a “Geezzz….I was so stupid. Our leadership had a handle on this all along and I just didn’t get it!” piece all ready to publish. Unfortunately, every day that goes by provides more data and another series of unfortunate events, which, sadly, tells me I’m on the right track and my mea culpa will likely never see the light of day…. because I’ve always hoped that our leadership would get on the train, understand that the bridge is indeed out, and hit the brakes well before it’s too late….Moreover, if we don’t change course, the political fall-out from this will be enormous. If the “asset support” to “jobs, food and shelter” ratio doesn’t improve soon, the good, patient, middle-America supporters might just figure out what old Larry Kudlow has done to them. When they finally figure out that very little of Larry’s $9 Trillion, is actually making its way into their pockets, and worse the lion’s share of it is finding its way offshore to the waiting arms and clenched fists of Chinese, Russian, Saudi, etc. bankers, Committee members and oligarchs, I would guess that there’s going to be, as we say….” Hell to pay”.

some i agree with, cut GST to 10% its a poor mans tax ie those that can least afford it pay more of their disposable income into it.
cut WFF thats just middle income welfare,
be more direct, change to a tax free threshold for the first 15K, if you do that then you can stop welfare increases
get rid of Accommodation Supplement, thats just corporate welfare, let the market set the rate for rents, put that money into social housing and help for people to get into their first home

"The market" seems to ensure that there aren't enough rental houses, so rents can be kept high - so how will that fix anything?

It's the Govt constantly meddling in the rental industry that is restricting some of the supply. Removal of depreciation, ring fencing losses and the onerous protection of "vulnerable" tenants that has driven many providers out of the market.

Are there any examples of true capitalism/free markets in any country ever in history ?

Are there any examples of true capitalism/free markets in any country ever in history ?

Most developing countries have free markets in their 'real economies'. Most NZers are connected to and rely on the state compared to individuals in developing countries globally. Cambodia is a good example. It's little more than a fight for survival with zero govt support.

Dear Lord .. please let this news thread end, Amen. lol =)

Great headline. Efficiency rather than austerity.

The reality is that most earn enough, but the extra unnecessary costs in the system (waste) suck it all up, and more, and the system is designed to do that. Most people are just hard-working fools.

From 1/3 to 1/2 of our housing costs (mainly land) are non-value-added costs, ie an invention of the system and could easily be removed without diminishing the amenity value. This equates to 50 to 75% of your mortgage costs being an invention of the system.

Imagine if that cost did not exist. How much more of your present earnings you would have for saving for retirement, health and education costs, build a warmer, drier, healthier home, or work less and spend more time with your children.

Or even be in a better position to weather a crisis as many find themselves in now.

One of the reasons we have had to lock down the country so hard is that our health system has been struggling to handle the status quo and has very little capacity to handle a crisis.

I'm not sure that ACT is the party to make us more efficient, but I know which parties aren't.

Dale. Michael Retells excoriating criticism of the productivity commissions' work - "dreamland stuff, deliberately choosing to avoid hard questions, while flattering the egos of ministers and officials in Treasury or MBIE" - aligns with your point about the lack of political commitment to address our continuing slide in NZs per cap productivity. Public service and local body wastage is a significant issue yet are only a sub set of the widespread wastage in this country. Your example of housing costs is another. Both the nats and the CoL tinker with settings and disguise the problem by flooding the country with low quality migration but that our relative prosperity continues to decline is not in doubt and Seymour seems to be the only pollie willing to take the issue seriously.

Agree, but I am in two minds about ACT. 1) It's always easier to make promises in opposition that actually deliver once in power, either because they have no intention of keeping them, or MMP waters down the policy so much it useless or even worse than what preceded it. Or, 2) ACT is in there because of the Epsom voter, who has done well because of more National type policies and won't vote for any true housing reform.

I suspect the Epsom voter could be persuaded if the land under their house could be bought for its development value. Epsom is already quite dense as an electorate but is limited by viewshafts and other urban planning regulations. They would probably find themselves substantially better off.

GV27. Interesting perspective. I assumed the leafy set would unanimously oppose the coming densification but hadn't properly thought through the value appreciating effect on land. I guess the 'special character' provisos will spare the villa dominated suburban blocks.

That depends if they are considered to be availed of Rapid Transit (e.g. most train lines etc). The recent policy statement change by the Government means that Councils will need to allow those areas to go up to six stories by default - that's your Kingslands, Mt Eden, Mt Alberts, etc. I believe this will override character and heritage overlays but I'm not 100% on that. And honestly - it's about time. You can't effectively gate off a suburb from intensification yet continue to receive the sort of transport services those in the outer burbs could only dream of.

Like I say - let the market set a value for the land and see how many of the old NIMBYs (now closer to retirement) choose to sell their land at a lower value on principle.

Anyone can apply a restrictive covenant to their property to 'lock-in; its present use permanently. And if enough neighbours did it, then this would naturally preserve areas of what was import to them.

But the reason they don't is they want to enjoy all the benefits of a 'leafy suburb' when they are using it, but when they sell to move on they want the inherent inbuild potential value a higher density zoning would give them. Hypocrisy is a word that comes to mind.

Dale. Yep, and your point about promises is illustrated by Collin's infrastructure fantasies. But with the Nats drifting ever close to what passes for the centre in NZ and the likelihood of a lab/greens coalition holding power, the need for a credible rightist challenger is now pressing. We face the spectre of the hard left faction in the greens having muscled the party's agenda away from environmentalism to an economic and social focus and who in an obviously underpowered labour cabinet will exercise disproportionate policy influence. I am wary of excessively liberal economic and social polices but fear the bolshevik influence so much that a clear eyed Seymour who will challenge them is looking attractive.

The Greens are now really the city greens, ie everyone should move into an apartment in the city, catch public transport, and the countryside should be saved and should be left to revert back to its natural state. VS the country exurb greens who want to decentralize and move away from the CBD for self-sufficiency.

Both National and Labour are hollow vessels.

It's not that I would even vote for ACT, but I can't see myself voting for any of the others.

If someone started a party called the 'Vote of no confidence in the others' party, it would fly in.

haha... Don't you remember the McGillicuddy Serious Party? Where are they when we need them the most

one became a leader of the greens,

haha - I went to one of their parties - a bit feral for me but at least they were civil and trustworthy around kids.

Ouch! Getting 'Materia'd' should be a saying in NZ's snout in the trough society I think...

Snout. Trough. Again, tired old right wing tropes, displaying no fact.

Not right wing. Not a trope. It's a fact pal, just look at where your taxes are spent and ponder. If that ain't a trough with hundreds of thousands of snouts in it then my name is Norm Kirk.

Just imagine if ACT didn't get into Parliament at all! And this is a very possible outcome based on recent polls because:

1. Paul Goldsmith is not safe on the list, on current numbers he could be out
2. Therefore he might have to fight for Epsom to survive.

Goldsmith winning Epsom and ACT on 4.8% = Act goneburgers.

The question is - if it is really is dire as the polls current suggest on election night - will party HQ request Goldsmith falls on the sword (probably in return for some plum future diplomatic posting next time they're in govt) to save the Act Party or do they fight for every seat?

It would be pretty embarrassing after all if the party's vote % is so low that their finance spokesman ends up being out. I dont think they could actually stand to lose any more talent. My guess is if it came for it they would send a message out to Epsom voters - two ticks blue. No cup of tea this year.

Seymour definitely has the mind meld technique going on - ACTing party indeed - just don't let him near Grandma's house.