Tertiary Education

At last – some coverage of the New Zealand general election campaign in the UK media! The Guardian highlights the NZ Labour Party’s promise to provide three years free tertiary (university) education from 2024. It would come in stages – one year free from 2018, and two years free from 2021. Student allowances would also rise next year, from $170/week to £220/week.

All very reminiscent of the UK Labour Party at the last UK general election. Indeed the whole drive by NZ Labour to capture the [disenchanted] youth vote, is very reminiscent of the UK Labour.

However, the commentary here is every bit as bad at giving the promises made by the various parties some sense of scale. The free tertiary education promise will cost around NZ$1.2bn per year, when fully implemented. That is a very, very big deal in a country when the governments entire annual expenditure is NZ$75bn. This NZ Labour Party promise is similar in size to the National Party’s income tax promise, to happen next April if National are returned to government, which is expected to cost around NZ$1bn per year.

This all puts a very different gloss on NZ Labour’s plan to charge tourists NZ$25 each, raising about NZ$100m pa.

The same problem arises when both NZ Labour and National offer to build / refurbish Dunedin’s hospital for around NZ$1.5bn, but cannot find the NZ$123m required to complete the funding of the Christchurch Arena rebuild. Populations are:- Dunedin, 120,000 – Christchurch – 390,000. Compared to Bristol, UK with a population of 620,000.

This election campaign started with a focus on the poor in New Zealand, especially child poverty. With government schemes to build social and affordable housing set to consume substantial funds whichever party is in government, it seems that poverty may have to be challenged without being a direct spending priority. Let’s see what finally emerges in the party manifestos!



Pre-Election Fiscal Update

This week the General Election campaign in New Zealand witnessed an eminently sensible ritual, that is completely absent from the UK. The government gave the Pre-Election Fiscal Update (Prefu) as it is required to do by law. This allows all parties to base their spending on the same fiscal outlook, which significantly restricts their ability to rely on their very own growth fairy.

Why would we not have this as a standard feature of a UK general election campaign? What’s not to like?

Incidentally, this gave a [nominal] GDP growth rate of 3.0% over the next four years, with inflation (CPI) currently at 1.7%. You have to go back to 2003 for the last time the UK had a [nominal] GDP growth rate over 3.0% (actually 3.5%), with UK inflation (CPI) at 1.4% that year.

This New Zealand election is being run against a backdrop of government surpluses. New Zealand national debt has risen since the 2008 GFC, when it stood at 5%, but it still stands at just 24% of GDP. And, New Zealand had to fund the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake during this period. New Zealand is not relying on the next generation to bail the country out.

Modified Temperature Data?

I keep an eye on the Lower Troposphere data release month by month by the remss.com website. I missed the June release and have just looked at the June and July figures. I noticed that the figures for Jan, Feb, Mar, Apl and May have all been significantly increased since they were released, by 0.18 degC on average, without any explanation.

Dr Christopher Essex  has shown conclusively that the “scientists” have been fiddling with the surface measurement data so comprehensively that it can no longer be of any use to anyone. Have they started doing the same thing to the satellite data?