Mike Hosking: Work for the dole a ‘no-brainer’

I warned you last week about the rise and rise of the union movement.
At the Council of Trade Unions get-together they were addressed by the new Prime Minister, who talked about “them” governing together.

And yet here we are, just four short days later, and already they’ve fallen out.

Shane Jones, on my programme on Friday, talked of the billion dollar regional fund, and part of that could be a work for the dole scheme. What an excellent idea. And another sign that this new government isn’t actually as radical as some might have thought.

How to get the remaining jobless out of bed and doing something has been an issue for years. Unemployment is at very low numbers by anyone’s measure, and we have hit that classic problem of a growing economy. Lots and lots of jobs, but a real issue finding good people.

So what to do with those ones that don’t – or won’t – work?

Geography is one of those issues. In some parts of the country there simply isn’t a lot of work. Enter the regional fund. Despite the fact there might not be a lot of industry, or maybe there is a skill mismatch, the simple reality is that there is always stuff to do.

And why on earth aren’t we taking the people with little to do, but a state cheque in their hand and getting them to contribute?

It’s sensible, it’s logical, it’s practical. It benefits the region. It hopefully benefits the individual, and the state gets something back for its money. Who knows, it might even lead somewhere long term.

But the unions want none of it. Why? Because the unions don’t want much of anything, short of less work for more money and better conditions.

Surely we cannot miss the irony of a Labour government introducing policy that is at odds with the unions.

If the unions, the group who have such influence on the party, who have a massive say on who the leader of the party is, they were the ones behind Andrew Little getting the top job.

If they are out of step with Labour, you really have to ask just who they are in step with, and whether their thinking is a bit 1931.

Working for the dole is quid pro quo. There is no free lunch or there shouldn’t be, state money isn’t a one-way street. If we can get a few people out of bed and making an effort in the regions, the regional fund is off to a good start.

Labour still don’t do maths

by Cameron Slater on October 25, 2017 at 11:30am

Labour party researchers looking for another cause

I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the mathematical proof that Santa isn’t real.  It calculates the distance he has to travel, the tonnage of presents and the number of households he has to get to.  And if you include him drinking the milk, cookies or even whiskey that’s left out for him, he’ll be in an alcoholic coma before the first 20 minutes of the delivery has taken place.

100 million trees a year is actually a sizeable number.  Let’s assume that all of us plant some trees every weekday.  We have weekends off.  Let’s also assume trees can’t be planted effectively by kids under 12 and people over 80.  That leaves us with 3.5 million people to plant a tree every weekday.

Assuming nobody takes any time off for stats or main  holidays and nobody gets sick, that 1,923,076 trees per week.   But we have to allow for people to be sick, or going to a funeral, or going to see the kids at sport and so on.  So on average, let’s set aside a day a week for that.   That leaves us 2,403,846 trees a week to get into the ground – as long as we all do our bit.  That’s a little less than a tree a person per day, allowing for weekends off and one day to go do something else.

Problem is, we can’t just stop the economy.  People need to be in shops.  Service stations need to have staff.  Teachers have to be in school.  Lawyers have to be in court.  Media people have to run around looking important.  Some are overseas.  Others are looking after tourists making their beds and cooking their food.

We also have a housing crisis, so we must exempt any and all builders.  Oh, and the people that transport their raw materials.  And the people that warehouse it, order it from overseas, etc.  We must not hold things up by having building inspectors out planting trees either.

We have a transport crisis, so we need people on the roads driving stuff from A to B.  And when they get there, the other people need to make sure goods are ready to go or to be accepted.

Let’s look at it from a people angle.  Let’s say a tree planter gets in 2 a minute and is productive for 6 hours a day, allowing for toilet stops, meetings and walking to get the next tray of seedlings.  That’s probably still high.  That means this best-case-scenario planter will do about 720 trees a day.   At a need of 273,972 per day (not having weekends off either), we need about 1017 “people” planting trees, every day of the year.

When you factor in weekends, holidays, sick leave and other inefficiencies, that number will need to be a lot higher.  And these people still need to be paid, managed, there is paperwork and a need for infrastructure to be built and maintained.

And all along, we assume that none of these people involved in planting trees are needed in transport or to build houses.  Otherwise, we would be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Let’s say these 1017 people are all paid, on average, $50,000 a year.   And that their overhead costs in terms of needing people to repair their gear, run their computer systems, provide payroll, HR, training, accounts and do on is roughly another $50,000 a year.

Just the operations cost in salaries and wages to get 100,000,000 trees into the ground would be north of 1 billion dollars a year.  Which, at $10 a tree wouldn’t be that expensive really.  But that still ignores the cost of providing the baby trees or any of the capital and operating costs outside of wages and salaries.

But according to Jacinda, Let’s do it.

Headline of the Day – “Kiwis now led by a Commie”

by Cameron Slater on October 25, 2017 at 9:00am

The Australian newspaper wins headline of the day.

The article then outlines her commie credentials:

New Zealand’s new prime minister-designate’s take on capitalism. Jacinda Ardern on New Zealand’s Channel Three, Saturday:

When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes.

Ardern is not heeding this newspaper’s sage advice. The Australian’s editorial, Friday:

Ms Ardern has promised intervention in the housing market. Mr (Winston) Peters will demand a clampdown on migration. But they would be foolish to overturn the direction of recent years.


We can hardly be surprised since Ardern is the former head of the International Union of Socialist Youth … Ardern at the IUSY festival in Hungary, July 21. 2009:

We are losing … I don’t just mean against the neoliberal agenda we are all fighting.

Neoliberalism has been pretty good for Kiwis when you think about it. The Australian’s editorial, Friday:

Unemployment is under 5 per cent and the IMF projects New Zealand is heading for a surplus of 2.8 per cent of GDP in 2022, which would outdo all other 25 advanced countries except oil-rich Norway.

Comrade Ardern continues at the Hungary Socialist Youth Conference:

With everyone discussing the economic crisis, we called it what it was: A neoliberal crisis.

John Key was talking about the economic crisis when he ran against the failing Labor-NZ First government. The then-opposition leader in Auckland, October 13, 2008:

Labour doesn’t have what it takes to get us through this one. They have ignored the evolving economic crisis and they have done so at your peril.

And Key did a bang-up job cleaning up NZ Labour’s economic mess. The Australian, December 5 last year:

New Zealand’s business leaders have praised retiring Prime Minister John Key for restoring pride in his people and for standing for a decade at the forefront of world leaders for his economic and ­social reforms.

Ardern has a slightly different worldview … The Socialist Youth Festival in Hungary, July 21, 2009:

I want to invite the leaders of our delegations on to the stage to join us in The Internationale.

The Australian’s Chris Kenny sums up Ardern’s new regime on Twitter, yesterday:

Political leaders who didn’t know the world before the (Berlin) wall came down. And haven’t been educated about it. A worry.

New Zealand has enough to worry about other than socialism at the moment. The Australian online, Saturday night:

Australia has hung on to defeat New Zealand 23-18 in an epic if untidy Test match at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

And some Kiwis think Ardern may be to blame … NZ Herald, yesterday:

They (the All Blacks) have never won a World Cup while we have had a female politician on the top floor of the Beehive. The ABs have bombed out of World Cups while Dame Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark have been PM.

Sexist hogwash. Though Ardern’s newly introduced national anthem may have put the All Blacks off the game … Eugène Pottier, June 1871:

This is the final struggle / Let us group together, and tomorrow / The Internationale / Will be the human race.

Oh these next three years are going to fun.


-The Australian

The issue of informed consent and police access to a blood database

by SB on October 16, 2017 at 9:00am

The idea of informed consent is a good one but in the latest case in the news, my initial reaction was that the parents (while making a valid point) were nevertheless being a little precious about something that was helpful, not harmful.

Imagine that I agree to give my baseball bat to the Salvation army believing that it will be sold to someone who will use it to play baseball. Many years later I discover that my old baseball bat was used to assault someone and is now evidence in a police locker. I didn’t consent for the bat to be used in that way but should I really be making a fuss about it?

Parents have expressed upset that blood samples taken from their babies soon after birth for a Guthrie test can be accessed by police under “exceptional circumstances”.


Guthrie tests involve blood samples being taken from the baby’s heel.

The mother of murdered teenager Jane Furlong was stunned to learn blood samples taken from her daughter at birth were later used by the police to identify her body.

As a mum, I would be relieved to finally have the closure and the certainty that those blood samples would provide if it was my daughter’s remains that had been found. I really am struggling to see how being able to 100% identify a victim or a criminal is a bad thing.

Police are able to seek access to the blood samples of more than two million New Zealanders under “exceptional circumstances”.

Again I fail to see a serious problem here. By all means from now on inform the parents that the blood will be used by police under ” exceptional circumstances” but I don’t think that they should have the choice to opt out. The blood database is a valuable resource and I do not think that the babies blood samples are the property of the parents.

Officers have used the database to prosecute two homicide cases, including that of Sounds murderer Scott Watson, and to identify the remains of missing persons, and victims of natural disasters.

The data was accessed in the Watson murder trial, when Olivia Hope and Ben Smart’s DNA was retrieved and matched with spots of blood found at the crime scene.

Judith Furlong learned only in the past week that police had used DNA taken from a heel test, also known as a Guthrie test, to identify her daughter Jane, whose body was found buried in sand dunes at Port Waikato in 2012.

Other parents said they were not informed of the possibility that their children’s DNA could be used in criminal investigations.

National screening unit clinical director Dr Jane O’Hallahan said police accessed the Guthrie cards “as a last resort”.

[…] She said every request from police was carefully reviewed and the Health Ministry considered the “individual concerned and the wider public interest in law enforcement and public safety”.

[…] blood spot samples were accessed once in 2010 to identify human remains, 13 times in 2011 to identify victims of the Christchurch earthquake, and in two homicide inquiries – both resulting in convictions – after a judge issued a search warrant.

Parents can apply to have the cards containing the blood returned to them. Otherwise, the information is kept and can be used for research.

For Judith Furlong, it felt like another betrayal to find out that a sample from her only daughter had been used by police without her consent or knowledge.

Without it, she would never have been able to know 100% that her daughter’s remains had been found.

[…] “It’s invasive because they didn’t inform you of anything.

[…] Scott Watson’s father Chris said he considered the cards “a DNA database by stealth”.

I can more readily understand the parents of a criminal being less impressed with the database if it is used to convict their child.


[…] The spokeswoman said information was tightly protected by the Privacy Act, the Official Information Act, the Health Information Privacy Code, the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, and the Human Tissue Act.

Civil rights lawyer Michael Bott said parents had every right to feel aggrieved if they gave consent for the sample to be used for one purpose, only to find out later it had been used for another.

“The police will come back and argue that this is for a very important purpose, we’re identifying a deceased person and something like that.

“The trouble with that is that once you go down that path as a reason for basically over-riding informed-consent provisions, where does it stop?”

This is a problem that is easily fixed. Obtain consent at the start or better still simply inform the parents how the blood will be used on the form. Most won’t even bother to read what they sign.

In Western Australia, the obtaining by police of Guthrie card DNA for investigative purposes led to public outcry and resulted in the samples being destroyed after two years.

All I know is that I would be grateful if a blood database proved that my child was innocent of a crime or proved 100% that a body found was my long lost child. The positives of the blood database in my mind far outweigh any negatives.


– Sunday Star Times