The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
Monday’s Chorus: Richie Poulton's lament

Monday’s Chorus: Richie Poulton's lament

With his dying comments, our greatest-ever social scientist wonders why Election 2023 is ignoring poverty reduction; NZ farmers face UK-style CBAM hit; Why not index NZ Super to CPI too, Nicola?
“You can't really undo what happens during childhood”, said the director of the Dunedin longitudinal study. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The Kākā

TL;DR: Richie Poulton, the director of the world-leading Dunedin longitudinal study showing how devastating poverty in early life is, died yesterday. With his final words, he lamented the lack of debate about solving child poverty in this year’s election debate.

Elsewhere in the news today:

  • Winston Peters promised to sack Jack Tame in an interview with Jack Tame;

  • Chris Hipkins is likely to have to dial in his election campaign appearances this week because he caught covid;

  • New Zealand’s farmers face massive Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) import taxes from the EU if a National-ACT Government fails to push up the carbon price over NZ$100/tonne; and,

  • National is planning to switch indexation of benefits back to price inflation from wage inflation to save $2b, but is ignoring potential savings of $12b if NZ Superannuation was also switched to price indexation.

Paying subscribers can see more detail below the paywall fold and more of my analysis in the podcast above.

Top five in our political economy this morning

‘What do we need to address most importantly? Poverty.’

Richie Poulton, the researcher behind the world-famous Dunedin longitudinal study, died yesterday at the age of 61. He is inarguably the most-qualified person to comment on the causes and effects of poverty in Aotearoa. John Campbell wrote an obituary via 1News that included Poulton’s final comments on poverty, and how it’s viewed in this election.

I asked Richie whether the study has shown if there’s one thing in childhood, perhaps above all others, that steepens the climb to a healthy and happy adult life.

“Poverty,” he said.

“What was most important about that original finding,” Richie Poulton told me, “was that you can't really undo what happens during childhood. So the experience of intense or regular poverty is long-lasting.”

Anyone familiar with Richie Poulton knows his capacity to describe the science of Dunedin’s longitudinal study in terms that are richly human. But on that August afternoon he was making it political, too.

“This is where my research enters the personal fray,” he said. “This election is not going to be focused on children in poverty, because we're bored of that. We're tired of that. We're sick of that. We've tried that, haven't we? Have we tried that?”

“Yet, what do we need to address really importantly, really importantly?” he asked, as if out beyond the waves now, looking back to a fading shore. And he answered his own question with a single word. “Poverty.” John Campbell’s obituary of Poulton via 1News

Here’s the longer piece aired last night on TVNZ’s Sunday programme.

The one where Winston Peters promises to get rid of Jack Tame

This is just plain ugly. It’s a trainwreck of an interview that piles into a car-crash in slow motion, with a bad imitation of a mafia don thrown in for bad measure as Winston Peters threatens to sack Jack Tame mid-interview.

‘Bugger’: ‘Chippy’ loses his ‘chipper’ to covid on the day voting starts

PM Chris Hipkins summed up how he felt about testing positive for covid yesterday in a social media post — “Bugger.” He’ll now isolate for five days or as soon as he tests negative, his office says. That means he’ll probably miss tomorrow night’s leaders’ debate in Christchurch hosted by The Press, the editor of which said they were looking at the logistics of possibly having Hipkins zoom in.

This was his second-to-last chance to land blows on National Leader Christopher Luxon before the election on the 14th (!). And voting starts today.

What failing to meet Paris targets and a low ETS carbon price means

Be careful what you wish for, is a lesson the likely incoming National-ACT Government should take seriously. It is going out of its way to promise fewer measures to reduce emissions and has been vague about how Aotearoa will meet its Paris Target Agreements. It has dismissed Labour’s suggestion that allowing the ETS to do all the heavy lifting by ramping up the carbon price.

But Christopher Luxon and Trade spokesman Todd McClay should have a look at what’s happening in Britain. It’s now dawning on Britain’s businesses that last week’s abandonment by UK PM Rishi Sunak of various emissions reductions measures and the nation’s zero carbon target will actually hurt them badly.

That’s because the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which New Zealand’s exporters are also subject to through our FTA with the EU, works by taxing imports through the difference between Europe’s carbon price and the original destination of the imports.

Here’s the detail in these article, and there’s a chart below. British exporters face hefty EU carbon tax bill after Sunak weakens climate policies - FT-free

Europe’s War on Carbon Goes Global as Border Tax Comes Into Play Bloomberg-free

By the way, New Zealand’s carbon price is NZ$65/tonne (€37/tonne), which is less than half the European price currently of €85/tonne. ACT, in particular, wants to dump our adherence to Paris. Perhaps it will need to check with its farmer supporters first. RNZ


Why not apply the indexation change to all receiving benefits?

One of the features of National’s fiscal plan on Friday was the confirmation of a return to inflation indexation from wage indexation for people on the main benefits, but not New Zealand Superannuation. The measure saves $2 billion over four years. NZ Super at $19 billion per year is a vastly larger expense than benefits at $3.5 billion.

National could easily pay for its tax cuts by indexing NZ Super to inflation…just saying.

The unfairness could not be more obvious. Here’s what happened before benefits were indexed to wages, rather than inflation. It shows what happened to benefits for families with children.

Just briefly in news and deep-dives elsewhere

Top five news in Aotearoa’s political economy

Wealth tax, street level rail: Green Party unveils policy priorities, independent fiscal review 1News

Labour Govt to add 100 new public EV chargers across the country 1News

National releases 100-day action plan if elected. Labour says repealing Three Waters would drive up ratepayers' bills. 1News

ACT promises to remove the January 2 public holiday, abolish Fair Pay Agreements, and stop future increases to the minimum wage. 1News

Te Pāti Māori candidate's home invaded in 'politically motivated attack' The party said Hana Maipi-Clarke's home had been targeted three times this week, her father later confirming a fourth incident happening tonight. 1News

Top five scoops, deep-dives and interviews in Aotearoa

John Campbell: Poulton, poverty and the real way to get tough on crime. Sanction beneficiaries now and watch their children’s troubled lives unfold for decades. 1News

NZ First, ACT candidates face scrutiny over Nuremberg trials, New World Order content Newshub

Inside the election trenches, by Kevin Norquay in The Sunday Star Times-$$$

Court Theatre staff blow whistle on ‘toxic’ culture. More than 30 staff have quit since chief executive Barbara George started five years ago - the equivalent of 100% turnover. The Press-$$$ Shannon Redstall

John Key’s warning for Luxon: ‘You’re always one crying baby away from a negative story’. Fifteen years after he took his own first shot at being PM, Sir John Key has some top tips for his protege Christopher Luxon. Sunday Star Times-$$$ Adam Dudding

Housing, transport, water and infrastructure

Residents fight to stop social houses in a wealthy Auckland enclave. Homeowners of The Gardens in Manurewa say a social housing project will bring in crime from surrounding suburbs, ruining their "lifestyle". Stuff Jonathan Killick

Kainga Ora’s shared ownership scheme stops taking applications amid surge in first-home buyers Newshub Zane Small

As drought and water restrictions loom, a scrap over water meters is ramping up. Wellington’s water issues are well-publicised – uncontrollable leaks and serious questions about how the costly fix will be funded. But can the councils find common ground? The Post-$$$ Nicholas Boyack

Meters still reducing water use for Kāpiti, 10 years on When water meters were first suggested in 2012, like Wellington, the district was staring down the barrel of serious water shortages. A decade on, high water users have reduced their consumption by 70%. The Post-$$$ Janet Holborow

The woman trying to solve the ‘gnarly problem’ of council housing. Angelique Jackson almost lived in council housing, now she’s the chief executive of a new entity responsible for its 3000 tenants. The Post-$$$ Ethan Te Ora

Top five in poverty, inequality, health, wealth and income

Food Industry lobby pulling the strings? We don’t know what we don’t measure. NZ Herald-$$$ Sasha Borissenko

More Kiwis working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Kiwis are hustling harder than ever, with more than 216,000 people now working a second job to supplement their nine-to-five. Stuff Esther Taunton

Inside the front door to New Zealand’s injecting drug users. After 35 years of preventing infection, New Zealand’s globally pioneering needle exchange network is having a shake-up, after a critical review. Sunday Star Times-$$$ Nikki Macdonald

‘They feed off each other’: Fluoride politics come roaring back with a post-Covid flavour. Fluoridation has convulsed local politics for decades. But a new law and post-Covid mistrust in public health measures are likely to bring the issue back to a town near you. The Press-$$$ Charlie Mitchell

If that’s the solution, was there ever a crisis? National released its fiscal plan on Friday, and its rescue recipe was mild, to say the least. Sunday Star Times-$$$ Vernon Small

Top five climate news

Home solar systems or big solar farms, which make most sense? The Post-$$$ Tom Pullar-Strecker

Time to sound the managed retreat? Whoever forms the next government will receive a poisoned chalice in view of the increasing impacts and public awareness of climate change. The Post-$$$ K Gurunathan

Hawke's Bay, Gisborne fishing industry faces challenge as debris renders areas unfishable Newshub

Why this Australian seaweed farmer is setting his sights on Europe AFR-$$$

The shifting flows of our overheated oceans WSJ-free

Top five in geopolitics

House Speaker McCarthy faces ouster threat for avoiding shutdown Reuters

Anti-Ukraine populist, Robert Fico, wins election in Slovakia Reuters

AUKUS pact ‘is doomed to failure’ The Australian-$$$

Crackdown on shonky colleges and education agents in Australia The Australian-$$$

Top five in politics, economics, markets and business

China new home prices tick up in September, ending four-month decline, survey shows Reuters

Apple to address iPhone 15 overheating issues win iOs 17 software update WSJ-free

China Stock Investors Say Worst Yet to Come in Property Crisis Bloomberg-$$$

Weekend profile: Lina Khan, America’s top trustbuster The Economist-$$$

Does China face a lost decade? from The Economist-$$$

Top scoops and deep dives globally

Adam Tooze: Germany must invest to neutralise the far right threat FT-free

The debt-fuelled bet on US Treasuries that’s scaring regulators FT-free

The Star Witness at Sam Bankman-Fried’s Trial: His Top Deputy and Ex-Girlfriend. Caroline Ellison’s testimony has the potential to be particularly personal and raw WSJ-free

Artificial sweeteners: the health controversy that will not go away FT-free

Wolff claims credit for Rupert Murdoch’s sudden retirement AFR-$$$

Limits to Growth reports vindicated as Earth faces overshoot and collapse. The critical lesson of the Limits to Growth reports – that there is no such thing as infinite growth on a tiny, fragile, finite planet – has escaped our consciousness The Irish Times Sadhbh O'Neill

Cartoon of the day

‘We’ll only cut the benefits of parents by half. OK?’

Sharon Murdoch via The Post-$$$ and X

Ka kite ano


The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
The latest daily snapshot of the news, detail, insight and analysis on geo-politics, the global economy, business, markets and the local political economy for citizens and decision-makers of Aotearoa-NZ.