Unemployment steady, wages up

It’s Wednesday, November 2 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund – thanks to our members. Want to get in touch?

The agenda

  • Unemployment rate unchanged at 3.3%.
  • Government and Reserve Bank report highlights serious risk of flooding.
  • National’s tax plan would give 10 times as much to wealthiest NZers – CTU.

Unemployment steady, wages up

It’s Wednesday, November 2 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund – thanks to our members. Want to get in touch?

The agenda

  • Unemployment rate unchanged at 3.3%.
  • Government and Reserve Bank report highlights serious risk of flooding.
  • National’s tax plan would give 10 times as much to wealthiest NZers – CTU.
Nov 2 2022

NZ First will not contest Hamilton West byelection, says Winston Peters

Winston Peters after the 2020 election (Photo: Getty Images)

New Zealand First has decided against standing a candidate in the Hamilton West byelection. Party leader Winston Peters said it in a statement it was an “unnecessary byelection that will change very little in parliament” that failed to recognise “the duties of service that come with democracy”. NZ First intended instead “to spend our resources on a comeback in 2023”. The byelection, scheduled for December 10, was triggered by the resignation from parliament of Gaurav Sharma, who has made a series of allegations, strenuously denied, about his treatment by former colleagues in the Labour Party.

Peters said: “When members of parliament stand at elections they promise the electorate to serve them for the next three years. That promise should be kept except when the circumstances mean that the mandate from the previous election no longer exists – not as an individual self-serving convenience for an MP’s changed career plans.”

Peters’ continued: “If a party’s mandate has been removed from a member of parliament, that member is justified in seeking a new mandate in a byelection. In the recent Tauranga byelection none of these above pre-conditions existed. A sitting member decided on a new career, resigned, and caused the taxpayers a million dollars in byelection costs. That again is happening now in Hamilton-West. Had Dr Gaurav Sharma received proper advice from an experienced adviser he would understand that.”

The “waka jumping” law, designed to discourage MPs from switching parties during a parliamentary term, was introduced as a NZ First coalition demand in the previous term. Jacinda Ardern declined to invoke it in the case of Sharma.

National has announced a shortlist of three for its nomination, while Labour’s candidate will be Georgie Dansey. Stuff reported this afternoon that she had taken part in an “ambush protest” this week against a senior minister from her own party, Andrew Little. Dansey said she had done so “in my capacity as an education sector union rep”.


Changes to buy now, pay later schemes on the way

(Image: Tina Tiller)

The government has confirmed it will move to bring buy now, pay later schemes like Afterpay under the same legislation in place for credit cards and other loans.

Providers like Afterpay and Laybuy allow consumers the ability to buy practically anything over a set number of instalments – with no interest. However, late fees incur debts and there is growing concern about the number of people falling into traps.

David Clark, the commerce and consumer affairs minister, said loans of $600 or more will come with the same types of protections offered to borrowers that use credit cards and personal loans.

“As the global cost of living crisis puts pressure on New Zealanders and their families, we are taking action to help them avoid unmanageable debt, especially as the Christmas season looms,” said Clark. “While for many, [buy now, pay later] can be a useful way to spread the cost of large household purchases, we are trying to stop vulnerable people getting into a spiral of debt if lenders allow them to take on more than they can afford.”

Watch: Chris Parker and Eli Matthewson want to talk about porn


It’s time we shake the shame around our porn use. In Chris & Eli’s Porn Revolution, two comedians are on a mission to shed the stigma around pornography and bring some pretty big questions to the party. What is Aotearoa’s porn production history? Is free access to online pornography impacting our rangatahi? And can pornography be artful, ethical, even feminist?

Building up to the launch of their big public awareness campaign, the pair chat with a range of experts, creators and consumers across the country to get their heads around the complex world of porn. But as they learn more, will it even be possible to sum it all up in one snappy slogan? And is it worth risking their high-profile careers for the health of the nation’s sex lives? You’ll have to wait until November 7 to find out. 

Chris & Eli’s Porn Revolution is made with the support of NZ On Air.

Wayne Brown still refusing interview requests

Wayne Brown arrives at work for his first full day (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Auckland’s mayor has still only given a smattering of interviews since being elected last month.

He’s made a couple of press conference appearances and spoken to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking, but beyond that, generally, he’s been turning down requests for comment across the board.

Speaking to RNZ podcast The Detail, Glyn Jones, a former chief press secretary to Auckland mayor Len Brown, called the current mayor’s media tactics unusual. “With any political office there’s a honeymoon period with the media and so you almost have carte blanche if you like to let them know what you intend to do during the three years of your term,” he said.

“It’s certainly very different this time than it has been in the past, in terms of a mayor who hasn’t taken that opportunity.”

TVNZ reporter Katie Bradford – one of those who has managed to secure a brief interview with Brown – said the mayor has used the strategy of saying he’s too busy to front for the media. Instead, he’s been sending out daily press statements.

“Of course it means that we can’t question him which is our job to be able to go and ask questions and expand on what is being said in a statement. A lot of those statements as soon as you read them you have a lot more questions than answers,” Bradford said.

Listen to the full episode here

Big news: McFlurries are now even shitter

Would the real McFlurry® please stand up (Image: Archi Banal/The Spinoff)

This feels personal to me as someone who loves a McFlurry. The Herald has today dropped the bombshell that M&M McFlurries are set to lose the hot chocolate sauce component. Effectively, it will make them soft serve with M&M sprinkles. This had already happened to the Oreo McFlurry, making them dead to me.

This deserves a full inquiry, especially considering Emily Writes has already reported on the fact that McFlurries are no longer flurried. Can they please now be called McSoftserve-with-sprinkles.

Justice for a fully chocolate-y, fully flurried, McFlurry.

Would the real McFlurry® please stand up (Image: Archi Banal/The Spinoff)

Unemployment rate unchanged at 3.3%


New Zealand’s unemployment rate has remained steady at 3.3% in the last quarter and unchanged from the last update.

According to Stats NZ, while the unemployment rate remained level, the underutilisation rate dipped down from 9.2% to 9%.

“Unemployment and underutilisation rates have been sitting at or near record lows for more than a year,” said Stats NZ’s work and wellbeing statistics senior manager Becky Collett.

Over the same three month period, wages grew 2.6%. Economists had predicted unemployment would drop down to record lows, while wage growth was predicted to be up near a record high.

Low unemployment has come with a higher rate of job security, said Stats NZ. Just under 53% of employed people said there was almost no chance they would involuntarily lose their job or business in the next 12 months, compared with 45.6% in the same quarter last year.

The Bulletin: Government and Reserve Bank report highlights serious risk of flooding

new government report has identified 44 communities across 12 regions in New Zealand that are at serious risk of flooding and are totally unprepared for it. Associate minister for local government, Kieran McAnulty said the reality was most areas of New Zealand were at risk of severe weather events.

McAnulty cited the floods in Marlborough in July 2021 saying the government had kicked in 95% of the $85m cost to repair damaged roads and indicated that wasn’t going to be a sustainable approach. Preliminary climate-related “stress-testing” done as part of a wider report that will be released by the Reserve Bank today, has found that in one severe scenario, a quarter of surveyed banks’ current Auckland mortgage lending was on land that could be hit by river or surface flooding.

In weather news, the West Coast is bracing for half a metre of rain in 24 hours.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.  

National’s tax plan would give 10 times as much to wealthiest NZers – CTU

Always useful when you have a new baby.

New calculations have claimed National’s planned tax cuts would see even more money than predicted end up in the pockets of wealthy New Zealanders – while the lowest earners would recoup about $100 a year.

The Council of Trade Unions says the tax package would give 10 times as much money to the wealthiest New Zealanders as it does to middle and low income earners. That works out at about $54,000 over three years for someone on the prime minister’s salary, while a minimum wage earner would get about $2.15 a week – or about $350 over three years.

“When you add it all together top income earners and those who own multiple properties end up with the lion’s share of the income benefits of National’s tax cuts – $5.8 billion or 53% of the gains,” said the CTU’s economist economist Craig Renney. That works out at about half the cost of the tax plan.

“This is a question of priorities. If the government is going to spend $11 billion, it should be focusing that money on public services like health, education and housing or on boosting incomes for families who need it, not a tax package focused on the well-off.”

While National costed its policy of adjusting the tax brackets at $1.7 billion earlier this year, Renney said it would actually cost $200 million more in its first year because of inflation.

But National’s leadership has rejected the new figures from the CTU. Deputy leader Nicola Willis told the Herald the analyst’s immediate previous role was as a political advisor to the finance minister, so she questioned his motives.

“We completely reject these numbers as they are based on a number of false assumptions including about aspects which are not in our tax plan and that the entire plan will be rolled out immediately.”