Essential Information on an Essential Issue
5 November, 1999
Time as currency and healer.
- ELECTION 99 CAMPAIGN
Election Campaign. The jobs agenda has forced its way to the forefront of
election issues. Last month's announcement of the closure of three Bendon factories in Te Aroha,
Te Rapa, and East Tamaki, with the loss of 400 jobs, has catalysed the debate on
employment issues and business development policies. Bendon plans to move its manufacturing
operation overseas, and blames high costs for its decision to close.
- PM Jenny Shipley, in the leaders' debate on TVNZ earlier this week, claimed that
a West Auckland manufacturer, International Lingerie, was going to take over the Bendon
plant in Te Aroha and employ the Bendon machinists. Later media reports revised this claim,
saying that the lingerie company was only "considering" the move. International Lingerie owner,
Ted Sweeney, says he is waiting to hear back on a request for Government financial aid to
cover costs of moving to Te Aroha before making a decision.
Sweeney says he was asked if the Prime Minister could tour his factory while in
West Auckland, and he was surprised that she then announced his plans on television when
discussions with Bendon were only in the early stages.
Sweeney told Kim Hill on Radio NZ that without some form of development finance
he was not sure the firm could afford to move to Te Aroha, and he doubted the company would
be able to take on more than about ten machinists. Kim Hill asked Sweeney to choose whether
he would prefer a tax cut or export incentives from the next government. Sweeney's
preference: export incentives.
Source The New Zealand Herald 3 November 1999 "Shipley caught out at Bendon"; Labour party press release "Shipley's rank opportunism exposed"
- Jenny Shipley hasn't been the only one having to back-pedal on claims relating to
the jobs issue. In the last week, Labour leader Helen Clark has had to "explain" media reports
that her party is promising to deliver a 3% unemployment rate in its first term of office. The
Sunday Star-Times proclaimed last weekend that "Labour aims to halve jobless" and went on
to quote government and employer spokespeople slamming the proposal as an "ignorant"
target, and "an old Labour hoax".
Clark had told National Radio that while Labour had not set absolute targets for its
first term, she would be aiming for a level of unemployment that matches the vacancies in
the labour market. Clark: "That's where the Americans are. It comes in at around 3%"
Later, Clark told reporters that the 3% figure was a long-term objective, and not a
short-term goal for which a Labour government would be held accountable to in the next three years.
Source Sunday Star-Times 31 October 1999 "Labour aims to halve jobless" by Ruth Laugeson; The Daily News 1 November 1999 "Clark forced
to retract vow on unemployment" by Nick Venter
- Meanwhile, the National Party says it has costed out the policies of the Labour,
Alliance and Green parties ... and has found that they will substantially increase employment
costs and cost thousands of job losses each year. Speaking to a business forum in Wellington
last week, PM Jenny Shipley listed the opposition policies which will halt the growing
economy. These included policies to increase personal taxes, reverse ACC changes, remove the
Employment Contracts Act and increase the role of unions and multi-employer negotiations,
charge employers for paid parental leave, introduce four weeks' annual leave and increase the
minimum wage by $20 a week.
Shipley: "These charges will put up the cost of employing people by nearly 3 per
cent. This might not sound like much, but it could result in 20,000 fewer jobs, or a 1 per cent
increase in unemployment. The saddest part is the effect on people, mainly young Maori, whose
self-esteem and sense of participation in our society will suffer as a consequence"
Source "Labour and Alliance policies would cost 20,000 jobs" press release from the National Party.
- LABOUR EMPLOYMENT INITIATIVES
In announcing Labour's employment policies, Steve Maharey outlined plans for
"community employment organisations" which would be set up to boost employment
opportunities, particularly in regions with high unemployment.
Labour says they could be set up by local or central government, or by private
individuals but would not be allowed to make a profit nor be in competition with existing
businesses. The organisations would be eligible for establishment grants the equivalent of the
unemployment benefit for every worker they employed. But they will be required to top up
this subsidy to the level of the minimum wage.
Steve Maharey says that the establishment of these organisations would be the
most expensive part of Labour's employment policies.
Another Labour policy involves a scheme called Workstart that allows an
unemployed person to use their unemployment benefit as a wage subsidy for a specified period.
Employers would be required to top up their wages to market levels.
Source The New Zealand Herald 27 October 1999 "Labour would split Winz functions, keep name" by NZPA; The Dominion 27 October 1999
"Winz would get shakeup under new policy".
- ALLIANCE OVERWORK POLICIES
Meanwhile, the Alliance workplace relations spokesperson Laila Harre says that
workers are experiencing the twin problems of overwork and unemployment. She says that an
extra week of annual leave is a constructive response to both. Harre: "It creates more jobs
because some businesses will hire more staff to cover the holidays of existing staff" Harre also
says that the Alliance will introduce legislation to set maximum allowable hours of work as
part of an overall plan to shorten the working week, without any corresponding reduction in pay.
Source The Dominion 15 October 1999 "Alliance work focus on minimum conditions" by NZPA
- SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT
The Alliance has also announced it will push for a Government Social
Responsibility Act. This Act will require the government to specify and monitor its performance against
social objectives and to prepare social impact reports for any proposed legislation likely to
have significant social effects.
MP Grant Gillon says that in a 1994 report on New Zealand, the United Nations
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights explicitly criticised the lack of social monitoring
by the government. Gillon: "The absence of transparent information about what the
government is trying to achieve and about the social impact of its policies makes it difficult to hold
the government to account for its policies. The Fiscal Responsibility Act specifies the principles
for responsible fiscal management. Similar obligations should exist in law in relation to
social policy "
Source "Jobs through growth and local economic development" press release from The Alliance by Grant Gillon 26 October 1999
- CUT UNEMPLOYMENT PETITION CAMPAIGN
A Wainuiomata scientist has started collecting 250,000 signatures for a petition
calling for the government to cut unemployment to 1% by the year 2004. By doing so, she would
force the government to hold a referendum on the issue.
Julie Waring says she has seen the effects of unemployment on family and friends and
sees very clearly the difficulty and pain that people are going through. She says she is motivated
by what she sees as MPs preoccupation with trivial issues. Waring hopes to "raise public
awareness on the negative effects of unemployment" including crime, depression and youth suicide.
To help collect signatures, write to Julie Waring, P.O.Box 42-009, Wainuiomata, or
ring Wellington's City Voice newspaper at 04-385-6711.
Source City Voice 21 October 1999 "Petition to cut jobless" by Grant Fleming
- STATISTICS THAT MATTER : NORTH SHORE
This electorate contains 21,672 households,
of which 35% have household incomes below $30,000 per year before tax. This is 20% below
the rate for the country as a whole. There are 32,685 adults aged 20-59 in the North Shore
electorate, of whom 66% are in paid, full-time work. Another 14% are in part-time work.
Unemployment in the electorate is 9% below the national average. ( Electorate statistics compiled
by Judy Reinken, and based on 1996 Census).
Source Judy Reinken, statistics based on 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings
- HOUSING POLICIES NOT DELIVERING
Housing policies for the poor have had little effect on upgrading the
substandard living condition of many families in Northland and on the East Cape. The parliamentary
social services select committee reports that many people in these regions are still living in
caravans, sheds, converted garages, derelict houses and cars without running water, sewage,
electricity, laundry or kitchen facilities. The report also says the poor health of many people
in Northland is a reflection of their living conditions.
Less than a quarter of the families targeted by the Low Deposit Rural Lending
scheme have taken out the loans. Of the 1400 families identified as needing assistance when the
scheme was launched in 1995, only 323 loans have been made, averaging $70,000 each. This was
despite over 3,000 people completing a workshop on home ownership as part of the loan scheme.
The select committee acknowledged the complexity of solving the housing problem,
but says the criteria for qualifying for the loan scheme should be expanded and that low,
fixed interest rates and suspensory loans should be considered.
Source New Zealand Herald 14 October 1999 "Housing shame for rural families loan plan `ineffective'" by Ken Lewis
- CHILD HEALTH ALERT
Poor and overcrowded housing continues to effect the health of children in
South Auckland. Middlemore Hospital paediatrics staff have released a report that cites poverty
as the underlying cause of the shocking health statistics of South Auckland children. The
report says that 10% of these children suffer from some sort of disability or chronic disease.
Co-author of the report, Adrain Trenholme, wants their findings to be taken more seriously.
Trenholme: "We are saying, `It's awful. Please recognise it, and if there is anything that can be done
about these socio-economic drivers of poor health, like housing, let's do it.'"
New Zealand Herald 16-17 October 1999 Report a shocker on health of Kiwi kids Catherine Masters
- HIDDEN HUNGER
A report titled `Hidden Hunger' has been released by the NZ Network Against
Food Poverty and shows an alarming number of New Zealanders are suffering the health effects
of food poverty. The report uses 70 bodies of research that link low income to poor diet and
health and social problems.
It says that at least 4% of NZ households nationally, and up to one third of households
in the lowest income areas, do not have the variety of foods they need for a healthy life.
Urban foodbanks estimate that they supply up to 10% of the households in their areas,
including people who are in work.
The report calls for benefits and wages to cover basic living costs. Network
spokesman Kevin Hackwell: "The best budgeting in the world can't solve the problem of not
having enough money. Food poverty cannot be tackled unless there is some increase in the level
of benefits and access to decently waged work"
The NZ Network Against Food Poverty includes foodbanks, public health workers
and social and health agencies. The "Hidden Hunger" report is available from the
Downtown Community Ministry P.O.Box 6133 Marion Square Wellington fax 04-384-7688
Source The New Zealand Herald 22 October 1999 "Poor families dip out on good food" by NZPA;
- VOICES: ON THE 99 ELECTION CAMPAIGN
"Unemployment has been created through government policies. It's not a natural
thing. Since unemployment has been created by government, so can jobs be created. It cost less
to create meaningful, real jobs than it does to build prisons"
Siggy Bauer, after the completion of his 802km, 17 day, Wanganui to Auckland "right
to work" run
"For Labour, full employment means that the amount of paid employment
available matches the numbers of people actively seeking work. It also means that people are able to
get the kinds of jobs that match their needs.
"As we enter the next century, it is time to reassert commitment to full employment.
New Zealanders know that the best economic and social policy is a job with a living wage. We
need to get the government focused on jobs again. Too much time is spent on welfare and on
dead-end schemes like the community wage. We will turn this around."
Steve Maharey, Labour employment spokesman
"Helen Clark's 3% unemployment target shows an appalling ignorance of the core of
the unemployment issue in New Zealand, which is the high rates of unemployment among
Maori and Polynesians. There is no sign of a policy prescription that shows they could work
some miracle on those core high unemployed "
Bill English, Treasurer
"The Prime Minister's claim that an Auckland company is poised to take on the 98
people who will lose their jobs when Bendon closes its Te Aroha factory this month was
exaggerated and self-serving. Mrs Shipley's opportunism is made even starker in that while she
grandstands on television about jobs that don't exist, her Government is at the same time refusing
to provide the kind of backup assistance to exporters like Bendon Ltd that would have helped
the company to prosper in New Zealand"
Helen Clark, Labour leader
"We are losing businesses every week to foreign shores as other countries provide a
better business environment and attractive incentives to relocate. A change of government
would mean a change of focus with regard to tariffs and manufacturing policy. Until this
country starts understanding the harsh realities of global marketing, New Zealand will continue
to struggle economically. We will continue to see exporters, technology, and our brightest
people leave our shores"
Winston Peters, NZ First leader
" What's the use of cheaper goods if you can't afford to buy them because there are
no jobs? Bendon's decision to shift its manufacturing to Asia is the latest in a long line of
factory closures to small towns. Our provincial centres are littered with empty businesses which
have shut their doors because they can't compete with imported goods made in Asian sweatshops.
"National's free trade policies are kicking the guts out of provincial New Zealand.
The truth is that at least 60,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the last decade because
of tariff reductions and other free trade policies. With our trade deficit now standing at $1.8
billion for the year to August it is time for some common sense on trade policy.."
Rod Donald, Green Party co-leader
"For Bendon to now blame tariff removals for their closures is below the belt and
totally untrue. It has exploited the goodwill of its 400 workers and shot overseas to have its
garments made by cheap, slave labour. Bendon has ditched its moral obligation to its New Zealand
and international workforce to pay reasonable and honest wages, preferring to use the excuse
of competition, while perpetuating the beast it is fighting against. Imagine Elle McPherson
promoting lingerie made by child labour in the backstreets of South East Asia. That scenario
will be the reality in the new millenium"
Rev. Ann Batten, Mauri Pacific
" There is no credible regional investment programme that would keep the Bendon
plants open. They are already in the regions and they have been there for 52 years. What would
help to keep the Bendon plant open is a change in tariff policy, and any party that supports
continuing tariff removals in effect supports the closure of the Bendon plants.
" The Alliance is the only party that will protect jobs by maintaining tariffs on
textile imports. If New Zealanders want businesses like Bendon then they need the Alliance in
the new government in strength to advocate for the tariff protection which will keep them here"
Jim Anderton, Alliance leader
"ACT is the only party with a workable solution to the problem of how to create new
jobs and growth. ACT's proposals will increase jobs. Over and above the 117,000 new jobs
forecast by the Treasury, over a four-year period, a flat tax of 20 cents will create 80,000 new
sustainable jobs. These 80,000 jobs will be taxpayers"
Richard Prebble, ACT leader
"The next chapter in the New Zealand story is about succeeding with innovative ideas
and new technology with new and old industries alike. It is also about fair welfare and
modern health and education systems that allow New Zealanders to grasp the opportunities to
"We've shown throughout the 1990s how this can be done. Economic growth generated
by sound policies means the cake gets bigger for everyone, allowing us to invest in quality
social spending, cut taxes and reduce debt. That is our path for the future"
Jenny Shipley, Prime Minister and National Party leader
"Most New Zealand towns and cities have a youth problem. Here, the answer to many
of the social problems created by young males in South Waikato lies down the road at
Waiouru. Twelve weeks training under strict military type discipline would be the making of many
"Most of our young people are good citizens, but unfortunately, too many of them
are lacking in leadership and direction. In many European countries, the system we are
advocating works and is accepted as part of the obligations of adult males"
Winston Peters, NZ First leader, announcing the NZ First policy of compulsory
military training for 18-year old men.
"`Compulsory military training won't create one more job. The $150 million that NZ
First would spend giving people the military training would be far better spent on high-skilled
new technology industries and training young people for jobs"
Jim Anderton, Alliance leader
"If the military is so good for young people and discipline, Winston Peters should sign
up straight away he's the most erratic and ill-disciplined person I know. A stint in the
Army might do him well."
Tau Henare, Mauri Pacific leader
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