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Jason Walls says NZ business leaders should take a look at what’s going on with our allies before filling in their confidence surveys as political turbulence engulfs Australia & the US

Jason Walls says NZ business leaders should take a look at what’s going on with our allies before filling in their confidence surveys as political turbulence engulfs Australia & the US

By Jason Walls

Don’t tell my editor, but I have spent much of my working week glued to the TV.

Just inches from my desk, I have been watching the Australian Government crumble and the US President’s Administration fall (even further) into chaos.

At 5pm on Thursday, my thumb was throbbing from switching between Sky News Australia and CNN.

It was thrilling TV and there was not much of anything going on in New Zealand’s Parliament.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here is a quick overview of what has been going on.

Australia: Then- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull backtracked on key energy policies – this frustrated some of his MPs.

On Tuesday, Turnbull called for a Liberal Party leadership ballot. He won, winning 45 votes to challenger Peter Dutton’s 38.

But Dutton was not done. On Thursday, he called for another vote believing he now had the numbers. Turnbull told media if another leadership vote was called, he would resign as leader.

A vote was triggered on Friday, Scott Morrison won and Turnbull resigned.

US: Boy, where to start.

It has been called the most turbulent week in Donald Trump’s Presidency so far – and that is truly saying something.

This week, two of Trump’s closest former advisors (Michael Cohen, the President’s former personal lawyer and Paul Manafort, his campaign manager until August 2016) were both convicted in separate court cases within minutes of each other.

Manafort was found guilty of tax fraud and Cohen admitted to paying off two women claiming to have had affairs with Trump, and he implicated Trump in the process.

It has been a huge week for two of New Zealand’s closest allies.

By contrast, it has been boring here. And I used the phrase “boring” through the lens of a journalist covering Parliament.

Others, including investors, would call it “stable.”

NZ’s political system is boringly stable, right now

At times like these, it is important to take a closer look at New Zealand’s political system.

Sure, the Coalition Government is having the odd issue here and there (see Waka jumping bill), but broadly everything is fine.

From a financial standpoint, that’s a good thing.

Markets crave stability and certainty – New Zealand’s political environment delivers both and then some.

In its assessment of New Zealand’s economy in April, Moody’s pointed out the country’s stable political environment was one of the major factors in its Aaa credit rating.

S&P has a similar outlook.

It’s at times like these, where the rest of the world looks so volatile and New Zealand looks so calm, it’s worth reflecting on business confidence.

There is no question this has been a thorn in the side of this Government, with Finance Minister Grant Robertson continually having to defend the Coalition every month when a new survey is released.

It is important to note that the plummeting confidence levels are not solely due to the Labour-led Government.

We’re coming to the end of an economic cycle and international issues continue to keep markets on edge.

Sure, some businesses are worried about some of the Government’s policies around industrial relations and the like.

But compare what’s going on in New Zealand to Aussie and the US, and the political environment couldn’t be more boringly stable.

On Thursday, ANZ will release its monthly business confidence index.

How much overseas political noise will be picked up in the survey is unclear.

But my advice to those filling out the forms is pretty simple; keep your eyes glued to the TV because we have it a hell of a lot better than most of our closest friends.

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

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I note the ridiculous comments made by Ports of (death and dismemberment) Tauranga CEO that he is uneasy about the changes to industrial legislation. Coming from the head of a company that makes its money off of a near monopoly and has an eye wateringly high workplace fatality record it shows just how far the playing field is tilted for a lot of big business in NZ. Incidentally, the claims of high productivity at POT come, I suspect at the expense of many of the stevedores who are on casual work at very low rates....while those who are unionised are on a significantly better wicket.

Addendnem...I don't infer that the unionised cohort of POT employees and subcontractors are less productive, I infer that because of their collective mindset this cohort enjoys a better standard of living ahead of the long suffering casualised worker...

But surely it’s a pillar of capitalism that people are paid by supply and demand. If there are a lot of people prepared to do the job cheaper, they should get the work. Otherwise you end up with a situation where a lucky few get a high wage not because they are good, but because they happened to get a cushy job at the port.

That's a pretty long-winded way to say "It's a race to the bottom".

I would say capitalism is the race to the top. Check out how well non capitalist countries are going.

Thanks Jimbo for my morning laugh, nice comeback. Societies that pay on feelings not value created never fair too well in the long run.

And let's just forget NZ's history of achieving a middle class too. The way forward is backward - back to low wages and long hours and a wealthy few only! Dickens was actually writing instruction manuals, not novels.

The problem with that comment Jimbo, is that it's actually the owners who have scored themselves the cushy position. While 'supply and demand' is preached, owners put vast effort into ensuring they are not subject to it. What do you think when you read in the financial commentaries that company X has a market dominance, and at times you will even see the honest words. 'a natural monopoly'.
Last thing these capitalists want is to be paid by supply and demand. That's the big con in what they say.

I'd say our business folk are very much aware that ructions elsewhere inevitably impact business in NZ as credit and goods supply chains are global. For one example, look how the NZD has weakened due to Trump policy.
The world is increasingly driven by the credit cycle and nz businesses should be very concerned that we are close to the down stage of that cycle. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Hi clone278
Re: " . . . look how the NZD has weakened due to Trump policy."

I would have thought that the NZD has been purposely weakened through RBNZ decision to keep our OCR low (unusually currently lower that that of the US) as a means of aiding NZ exporters and so providing stimulus to our economy.

Printer8 you need to look at the events that have been leading up to the RBNZ decision to keep the OCR low, it's not just to help exports but also to help local affordability for property therefore helping to prevent a crash, that would have a negative impact on the wider NZ economy.

Trump has certainly had a dramatic effect on the global economy causing a big down turn for both us and Australia by his flailing attempts to subdue China.

And here’s me thinking they are keeping interest rates low to try and get inflation back to their mandated level. If anything they have been keeping them too high.

"look how the NZD has weakened due to Trump policy." Agree, but may I add:

It's not only the NZD that has weakened, which shows there are much larger forces at work here than RBNZ, NZ government policy, NZ economic activity, etc.

I believe too many of our NZ commentaries are based on the wrong assumption that NZ is the sole captain of its destiny, and thus too quickly laying the blame at the RBNZ, NZ government policy, NZ sentiment, etc.
If only the world was that simple!


To a degree we are the sole captain of our destiny - we talk ourselves into a hole. For so long we have been telling ourselves how great we are when in fact we just mediocre (at best). Reality hurts.

EDIT spelling

“Business” will be waiting a long, long time for economic/political global stability.
Actually there is a school of thought that large corporations make a lot of extra profit from instability e.g. Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”
NZ “Business” aka heads of corporate entities with no country/sovereign loyalty are simply grumpy about a Labour/NZF Government in Power.


NZ “Business” aka heads of corporate entities with no country/sovereign loyalty are simply grumpy about a Labour/NZF Government in Power.

And with a young woman at the helm.

That’s a nice dog whistle you’ve got there Kate. All of the criticism around that young woman has been for her decisions and her decision making methods I.e. oil and gas.

Not all.

There's been plenty of overly emotional drivel and histrionics from election time to today. Shouts of "communist!" ...until handouts are sought, monikers such as "Taxinda" and "COL", and blind insistence that the election was stolen from one's preferred party.

It's not been the case that all grumping and flouncing and throwing of toys has been for sound logical reasons at all.

I was watching the Rugby in a pub with a group on Saturday and unexpectedly Taxinda appeared on the screen at the end. I was surprised to hear braying from more than one person in the Group, who I've never discussed politics with. Like it or not, there is a significant portion of the voting population who don't want her or her COL in power, but have to lump it. Don't expect the monikers or the subtle destabilisation to go until they do.

Geez for a supposedly smart person you say some ridiculously stupid things.

By any chance did anyone else in your group like watching rugby, also?
That must mean that a significant portion of the voting public must also enjoy watching rugby.

The point is that the dislike isn't always expressed publicly, so I was surprised. I'm not as alone as the posters on this site would like to believe.

This is the same woman that quipped in France that she was glad she didn't have to discuss sport. Saturday was a photo op, nothing more. She ruined the game for me. There should be a warning on the screen before she comes on. I have managed to avoid almost every reference to her on free to air TV.

Well your point is baseless if that was it.
Just as bad as the John Key "The other day in the Koru lounge" crap.

I don't like Jacinda, either.
But I at least understand that pathetic, petty, insipid whinging achieves nothing.

What you should really do to make a stand is forego the WFF payments you have been taking while being unemployed, instead of being such a hypocrite.
But alas, for all your ideological fortitude you are, in reality, no better than the system you despise.

"Subtle destabalisation" ...pretty apt description of the emotional state of those braying and whinnying, from the sounds of it.

Why not? It's as valid a strategy as the PM parading the Klingon.

I missed the photo op - do tell, who was the Klingon?

Hi Rick, none of what you said relates to me calling Kate’s comment about Jacinda being a young women a dog whistle. All of those comments would have been the same if Andrew Little won. For those down the thread who are commenting on people not liking seeing her at the bledesloe the same was said about John Key and the AB’s. I was calling out Kate’s make believe sexism, nothing else.

How about this then, if Jacinda wasn’t a young woman would labour have had a 20% swing like they did when they changed leaders? If Andrew Little was replaced by another white man would that have happened? Considering there were no policy changes (that I could note), no change of direction it seems that the only reason for labour’s uptick was a change of gender and age of the leader. If anything, your initial comment would imply that labour should drop further after they changed but it seem your comment was in step with reality.

it seems that the only reason for labour’s uptick was a change of gender and age of the leader.

And therein lies the problem with your analysis - you only seem to want to give credit for the turnaround to Jacinda Ardern based on her age and gender. That's my point, I think many in the business community might suffer the same prejudices.

Please enlighten me to what she changed then to achieve the turnaround then? I followed the election closely and I’m definately not the only one to ask that question.

Back to my point, if we are sexist how did a young female get such a swing? Shouldn’t labour have dropped off further?

Relentlessly positive.

It was her hallmark during the election campaign.

So that’s it? As Gareth Morgan famously said and was pilloried for “that’s like putting lipstick on a pig.” Style over substance. I’m sorry but again reality is Jacinda is now prime minister where her male predecessor didn’t have a chance.

If you are always looking for sexism, racism or any “ism” you will find it.

What grinds my gears about this debate we’ve been having is you dismissed a group of people as sexist who disagree with labour’s ideas as sexist when they would have been saying (and did say) the same about Andrew Little. I’ve seen how destructive identity politics is overseas and I don’t want to see it happen here.

"It has been called the most turbulent week in Donald Trump’s Presidency so far – and that is truly saying something".

Yes agreed, the American's certainly got more then they bargained for with Trump. I know they wanted to shake things up a little to make progress if you take a George Bernard Shaw quote; "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man".

Too bad the Americans end up with a lunatic to contend with rather than just an unreasonable man.


He's the President the Americans have been deserving for decades. After all the havoc his predecessors have wreaked across the globe interferring in other countries economies and political systems, ours included, this is their rough justice. Although I agree he is a lunatic and I dislike him also, I hope he gets the second term, just to ram the lesson home on the American citizenry. The lesson being to covet their democracy and to leave other countries well enough alone.


As an Englishman firmly rooted in the Western sphere Trump has been an astonishing phenomenon, something that I hardly thought possible, like a dream come true.

Here was a leader, an 'everyman', who overthrew the staid, sleazy and impotent "conservative" political establishment. No more weasel words and polite diplomacy, just saying it like it is and calling a spade a spade and getting the job done.

He seemed an unlikely candidate for the role of saviour of the West yet now I realize no one else could have done it. I have often referred to him as a manifestation of a Nietzschean superman and my view hasn't changed. For Trump to be leader of the free world the stars must have been aligned and this is very obviously something of a divine appointment. Americans, being very religious, should understand that Trump being President is an actual miracle. Only by the grace of God does one become President (divine right of kings), and any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act.

Of course many will think I am barmy but it is Sunday after all. Think about what Trump has done, think deeply about it and if you are honest he is truly a champion of freedom and a champion of his people and by extension all Western men.

Trump is the only person standing between us and an Orwellian nightmare world. He sees the world as it is from the perspective of an American with Scottish and German roots. The mass media is corrupt and manipulative and he rightly calls them out. The Russians are not our enemies. The North Korean problem can be solved. ISIS can easily be defeated. Something needs to be done about the plight of the white South African farmers.The Internet needs to remain free. Censorship is not the function of private companies. Trade has to be fair. China must be countered while it remains non democratic. Criminals and invaders must be stopped from penetrating the borders. Laws must be upheld. NATO must carry its fair share of the burden. The home economy must be energized and the citizens protected. I could go on but you get my drift. Everything is about freedom. Freedom for the West.

All these things are reasonable and obvious to the Western everyman.

For the moment it sounds as though you were describing a certain upstart Austrian Corporal who although a failed artist possessed an amazing oratory ability to convince his followers that he too was a divine figure. Of course his wingmen dismembered anyone who thought otherwise....

Something about your insinuation doesn't stack up with the facts. Do you want to make a prediction..?
History tells us that the opposite spectrum of politics is rather more tared and should concern civility far more.

See stuff like this is why the left are being taken less and less seriously. Hitler Nazi Hitler Racist Nazi Hitler... it's the response to almost anything, and what were once serious accusations have been reduced to childish taunts.

This sounds like white privilege myth making. While I have an inkling of what Trump is trying to achieve - I'm more suspicious that he is playing with fire and the only people who will get burnt will be the "Western everyman". Unfortunately all media is biased to a greater or lesser extent - everyone is trying to sell a narrative - what makes you think yours is any better.

Are you Q ?

Englishman?? You give yourself away time after time, - "Of course many will think I am barmy (no, no, no we don't THINK that) but it is Sunday after all. Think about what Trump has done, think deeply about it and if you are honest he is truly a champion of freedom and a champion of his people and by extension all Western (please explain) MEN".

My intention was to lay out my credentials, that being a man who had emerged from the English historical stream and that the comment is an opinion from this perspective. Mostly to counter the 'Trump is a lunatic' commentary. Trump's base is overwhelmingly from this and similar heritages and we view things differently and personally.

Also I wish to point out the fact that the reality is every effort is being made to bolster and ensure the freedom and prosperity that has been won for all individuals in the West. My view is that Trump doesn't want to take away any American's freedom and is challenging any attempts to do so as a great US leader should. Everything he has done as President should inspire confidence in the business community. You may not like him as an individual but his actions have been solid. The turbulence has been deliberately caused by the media and the so called elites taking every opportunity to try and thwart him at the expense of the American people.

Any nonce (and Trump is a special kind of nonce) could do what Trump is doing, however, most of us know the world cannot continue on its polluting ways, and yet Trump and his like just choose to ignore climate change and just barrel on regardless, again, anyone could do that. The harder road is most definitely dealing with the issues that mankind has caused on this planet, starting with our overpopulation of it, the Trump's of the world will NEVER acknowledge that as it might mean they have to accept that infinite growth is impossible and unwise. You are being duped.

Zach do you think Trump could have achieved what he has without being a blatant philanderer, racist and liar?

He is also a coward and bully.

I expect a slightly higher standard of integrity from my chosen leaders.


Totally agree with Z Smith. But not many want to see it like it is. Democracy is hanging by a thread and the biggest threat is coming from within its own borders. The left are socialist democracts. That means they want to dismantle our hierarchical traditions, removing the patriarchs and creating laws that protect the weak and broken from their bad and awful fathers. The rights of the individual is still the most important gift we have. Socialist governments try to get everyone to report to the state. Only problem is, the state is corrupt. And dysfunctional it would appear. If you want to learn more have a listen to Jordan Petersen on Youtube. The academic left are calling him out and for good reason. He's right. And they don't know what to say next.

Unfortunately Jordan Petersen speaks a load of rubbish. I find his analysis is very shallow and generally confused as to what he is actually trying to say - he waffles a lot.

As apposed to who? Karl Marx more your style?

You seem to be making an assumption that I must be the opposite of Jordan Petersen - no I just find his talks confusing and erratic - to me he just doesn't structure his arguments well. At present John Gray (the English philosopher), Nassim Taleb and Jonathan Haidt (mainly because he offers some insight to why people believe what they believe) .

Wow. A site that can mention Jordan Peterson, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux without the poster being scolded by narrow minded editors. Some of what these above pundits think I do not agree with, due I think to having more knowledge of the particular subject than them. On other subjects I have found them extremely informative, especially Professor Peterson. I have become very fond of YouTube and I sincerely hope it will not go the way of Facebook and twitter etc.
I have just spent a few hours entertaining one of my sons with YouTube videos after finding out he had not heard of Tommy Robinson. The videos of the protests in London were a revelation to him. The constant cries of "shame on you" directed at the MET police were particularly telling. There was much anger but no arson or infrastructure damage at all. Very different to the riots of some groups.
My son, like too many kiwis, works too hard so has not had time to find ways of bypassing our lying main stream media.
Also as someone who can not be pidgeon-holed as being a so-called left or right winger, I think Zachary's above comments are at the very least close to the truth. History will prove whom is correct.

Don't you dare in one breath, speak of individual freedom then go on with another to try and defend heirarchical traditions and freedoms for some. There is no individual freedom unless those individual freedoms apply to ALL individuals and it includes the freedom to love who you wish, to marry who you wish, worship what you want or nothing at all, to live your own life! There is NOTHING to say next!
You know what all this stuff is, don't you - future fear and the likes of Peterson, Southern, Molyneux are just cashing in on it, at your and ZS et al expense.


Don't you dare

When all else fails - ascend the high horse!

"The chief tactic of the left is that you're not a good person."

Are you telling me the Democrats are socialists? Compare their policies to our national party and I think you will find they are quite a way right of them. They are only left wing when compared to the extreme right republicans.

But you are using NZ as your barometer for left/right, and applying it to the US. Is that accurate?

NZ barely has a right wing. I don't think national counts - high tax, high immigration, nanny state supporters. About the same as labour really.

I should not be so concerned with Australia or US when NZ still has similar problems like

Hard to take seriously Morgan of all people criticizing anyone
Paul Holmes will be laughing in heaven I’m sure

NZ businesses are interested in our economy and future decisions the govt might make. I don't think CNN and Trump having an affair is relevant to their business decisions and opinions.

The only people in the world having conniptions and driving themselves crazy about Trump are the media.

Business has every reason to be concerned in NZ........this government is nothing better than a dictatorship.
They Oil and gas fiasco, followed by the NAIT scandal is a government demonstrating they will do what they like to private industry/business and its particapants. People should be very afraid of a government that is prepared to breach human rights at every turn.

Business no longer has the confidence to borrow and invest in projects as they know that the dictatorship in Wellington can and does involve itself under the guise of National interest to interfere in private matters.

Every farmer should be worried with the wide reaching powers and their loss of privacy and security and every other industry should be worried as they could be next!
A government that shows contempt for capitalisn while living off the back of capitalism has fooled its voters with propaganda!

CNN and Sky News are the pinnacle of journalism. I'm sure they'd never sensationalise anything for entertainment or political purposes, donate to political parties, switch off guests' mics or tell their well informed viewership it's illegal to look at sources like Wikileaks.

Is ‘certainty’ ever achievable for Business?
Is ‘certainty’ actually a code word for ‘more corporate welfare’ and ‘pro-legal framework to favour large duopolies’?

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Days to the General Election: 35
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.