• In my year of living fabulously, the year I had off while I waited for this role to become vacant, I did lots of things that I suddenly found I had time for and one of those was jury duty.
    I would have done it before but I'd never received the call up. Now all of a sudden, my name had come up on the electoral roll and I was being called to fulfil my civic responsibility and I was thrilled to the boots.
    Having been a court reporter for a number of years, I found jury trials fascinating. Of course, I only covered the newsworthy ones. There are undoubtedly jury trials that don't make headlines - but even when it’s all points of law, and contracts and signatures, surely if the fate of a person's freedom or reputation depends on your decision making, it's not going to be boring.
    However, the courts are struggling to find enough Kiwis willing and able to do their duty. Fewer than one in five people called for Jury Service in Palmerston North are turning up to court - across New Zealand 17 per cent of people summoned actually turned up for duty.
    Former Attorney General Chris Finlayson on the Mike Hosking Breakfast gave New Zealanders a blast for failing to fulfil the obligations of being a citizen of this country.
    Yeah, nah, not sure that's going to do the trick, Chris. Shaking a big stick at people for failing to turn up and telling them that they're very lucky to live in this country and this is the least they can do, the ungrateful wretches probably won't work. Nor will fining people who fail to show - not that we actually do that.
    Listen to the full editorial above

  • Kiwi kids' science skills are suffering.
    The Education Review Office has released a report into improving science studies.
    Only 20 per cent of Year Eight students are achieving at the desired level, and the performance of Year Nine students has declined.
    The ERO says this is concerning, and indicates an urgent need to strengthen science teaching in New Zealand.
    "Covid-19 has showed us how important science is and with science-related issues such as climate change and vaccines increasingly impacting on society, it is essential that we have high quality science education", they said in a statement.
    To discuss the importance of science education, Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson joins Kerre McIvor.

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  • Most of us have debt - anyone with a mortgage has an eye watering amount of debt but when push comes to shove, that's good debt. You are investing in an asset - hopefully - and you know that the payments you are making are putting a roof over your family's head.
    Even student loans, which is the first big debt that many young people incur, can be seen as an asset if you've chosen your courses wisely. But drowning in debt because you simply don't have enough money coming in to cover your living costs would be a terrible, terrible way to exist.
    According to One News last night, more than half a million Kiwis now owe $1.9 billion to the Ministry of Social Development. Interest free loans are available for those on benefits to pay for school uniforms, urgent dentist bills, electricity, washing machine and car repairs. They must be paid back and although the payments are only $30 to $40 a week, if the only income you have is a benefit then that's quite the chunk.
    One of the beneficiaries interviewed has to repay $46 out of her $386 benefit every week, and given that she has four children, it’s a struggle to keep her head above water.
    Now, the Green Party wants the debts to be wiped to enable a reset for all those beneficiaries to get back on their feet.
    Carmel Sepuloni said having a system whereby beneficiaries can get interest free loans was far better than families having to go to loan sharks to cover some of the basics and that wiping the debt was simply not up for consideration.
    David Seymour says the loan scheme is creating a culture of entitlement - which shows David Seymour has never been on the bones of his bum.
    If the sums don't add up, if the benefits aren't enough for people to survive then it is a pointless exercise lending them money that they can't pay back - or that they can pay back, but only if they get food parcels and emergency grants.
    It is a futile exercise - a bit like spending a million dollars a day on emergency housing. It keeps people trapped in a hopeless situation - and taxpayers are spending millions and millions of dollars to keep people there.
    Would it make more economic sense to raise benefits rather than putting people into a vicious cycle of lending and repayments? Or would that mean people would choose a beneficiary lifestyle over a low paid job.

  • US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is making the case for a global minimum corporate tax rate, saying it's important to make sure the ‘global economy thrives based on a more levelled playing field.'
    Yellen has called on OECD countries to agree on a global corporate minimum tax rate.
    They've proposed 21 percent - and surprisingly, some big players are on board like Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
    NZ Herald Business Editor at Large Liam Dann joined Kerre McIvor to discuss the idea and what it might mean for New Zealand.

  • Disappointment there's still no announcement from the government on international students.
    CEO from Aspire2 International Claire Bradley says they thought the trans Tasman bubble would free up more space in MIQ for students.
    But she told Chris Lynch the Government's looking to disestablish some facilities.
    Bradley says the sector desperately need a plan from the Government

  • The public housing waiting list has hit new highs.
    At the end of January, more than 22,803 households were waiting for a place to live, that figure is thousands higher than it was the previous year.
    Meanwhile, more than a million dollars a day is being spent on motels to use as emergency housing.
    More and more families are struggling to afford to washing and are accessing a mobile laundry service for homeless people.
    Orange Sky New Zealand's services and support for the community has doubled in the last 12 months.
    Currently the charity provides free access to laundry and shower services in Wellington and Auckland and are looking to expand this across the country to help the 41,600 Kiwis experiencing homelessness.
    Orange Sky's Operation Manager Eddie Uini joined Kerre McIvor to talk about the issue.

  • The Government has been praised for spending it up and providing a fairer New Zealand, but who is paying for it in these post-Covid times?
    Back in February 2020, Alison Brook from Massey's Knowledge Exchange Hub wrote in a piece for interest.co.nz that while many advanced countries have suffered from falling productivity growth since the global financial crisis, New Zealand’s productivity performance has been lacklustre since the mid-1990s.
    According to the New Zealand Productivity Commission in a recent report, if productivity stays at the current level of growth, then real GDP will be 18 percent lower in forty years’ time.
    New Zealand’s GDP per capita is 30 percent below the OECD average, and similar to that of Mexico, Greece, Portugal, Israel, and Japan – and this was pre-Covid)
    Professor of Economics and Innovation at Massey University, Christoph Schumacher joined Kerre McIvor to discuss how productivity can be improved - and why New Zealand needs to rethink what sectors it invests in.

  • Yesterday the Prime Minister confirmed another rise in the minimum wage.
    The minimum wage went up last year to $18.90. On Thursday, it will rise to $20 per hour. Benefits will also increase this Thursday - and the PM says the changes represent real and long overdue changes. She says that the level that the previous benefit rates were set at were far too low for people to survive.
    She's not wrong. Wages have gone backwards - thirty years ago, I was earning $25 an hour as a maître de at a Wellington restaurant, and that combined with my tips and a few telly jobs was enough for me, and indeed my daughter, to live on.
    It wasn't a lavish lifestyle, but I was able to earn my own keep. The fact that wages have gone backwards while the price of basics have risen exponentially makes it really tough on low income earners.
    Without a doubt this government is a Labour government, through and through. At times the Labour party and Labour governments have been in danger of being run over because they’ve been so middle of the road.
    Not with this one. This one is doing what Labour does best and that's spend up large.
    If you look through Labour’s achievement on the website, it’s all about spending:
    The minimum wage rising, the extended paid parental leave from 18-26 weeks and an extra 20 bucks a week as the cherry on top, the extra $75 dollars per week for 384,000 families through the Families Package, the expanded free lunches in schools, the extra $60 per week in the Best Start payment for a child's first three years and that’s for 65,000 families, the introduction of a winter energy payment, and then the doubling of it for 2020, free period products in schools, widening the WFF eligibility to include 26,000 more families, given every state school a one off capital injection of up to 400,000 and increased benefits by $25 per week during Covid with more to come.
    It's exhaustive. Without a doubt its very necessary spending for the most part. Widows huddled under duvets at 6pm in the South Island during winter. Kids unable to learn because they're so hungry. the minimum wage.
    But who's paying for it? Some of the money will come through higher income tax rates on higher earners. And as one who will be affected by that, I'm OK with that.
    If I agree with the extra energy payments for pensioners and free lunches in schools I have to be willing to pay for that. I don't agree with WFF because that is the taxpayer topping up low wages - and surely that's where we need to see an adjustment in the market.
    Back in February 2020, Alison Brook from Massey's Knowledge Exchange Hub wrote in a piece for interest.co.nz that: “While many advanced countries have suffered from falling productivity growth since the global financial crisis, New Zealand’s productivity performance has been lacklustre since the mid-1990s.
    “The productivity discussion in New Zealand has become even more urgent in recent years because of fears that the slow adoption of new technologies will leave our local firms even further behind the rest of the world.”
    This was pre-Covid so all bets are off as the we along with the rest of the world resets. But we have an issue with productivity and you can bet your bippy Covid and the reaction to it won't have helped.
    So sure - we need to invest in our DHBs and our schools and our kids and our families, but all of that comes at a cost. So how are we going to pay for the sort of country we want to live in?

  • Does the housing market need a price correction to get New Zealand through the crisis?
    That's the argument made by NZ Herald business writer Liam Dan.
    He wrote yesterday: "Markets where prices never fall are unhealthy and almost always artificially distorted by bad policy."
    At some point there needs to be a correction as "corrections lessen the risk of more damaging, uncontrolled crashes."
    Dann joined Kerre McIvor to discuss his argument.

  • A tax adviser thinks the Government's housing policy will push up new home prices.
    New investors will be stung under the bright line test if they sell an existing home within 10 years.
    They also won't be able to claim home loan interest repayments as a business expense.
    Greenmount Advisory managing director Bruce Bernacchi told Kerre McIvor those things won't apply to new houses.
    "A lot of new builds are going to be targeted at first home buyers, or lower income buyers.
    "I think it will have the unintended consequences of forcing the prices up."

  • Mega-moves to halt a housing bubble.
    Almost $4 billion is going into a fund for housing infrastructure, and the Government's doubling the bright line test to 10 years.
    It's also lifting the ceilings for income and regional house price caps for first-home buyers.
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson says we can't afford to allow spiralling house prices to put our economic recovery at risk.
    One Roof property commentator Ashley Church told Kerre McIvor if the Government wanted to , it's already failed.
    "Nothing in this package actually reduces house prices, including things like the bright-line test measures, which will make absolutely no difference."

  • The Government's moving to curb speculation and close tax loopholes in the housing market.
    It's announced a suite of measures, including a $3.8 billion housing acceleration fund, and lifting the First Home Grant caps to tackle the red hot market.
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson says they're also doubling the bright-line test from five years to ten years to reduce the attractiveness of flipping residential homes to speculators.
    He says the average house in New Zealand is owned for seven to eight years - so extending the brightline test to just beyond this mark, will capture more speculative investment.
    The Government will also remove the ability for property investors to offset their interest expenses against their rental income when they're calculating their tax.
    Political editor Barry Soper told Kerre McIvor Finance Minister Grant Robertson has broken a promise, by increasing the bright line test.
    "He said on Newstalk ZB last September that he won't increase the brightline test, but that's exactly what he's done today."
    Soper says the package doesn't provide any immediate solutions to cool the housing market.

  • A former Finance Minister has offered his thoughts on how the country can bounce back from a GDP slump.
    Figures released last week showed a one percent decline in the last quarter, contributing to a largest ever annual fall of 2.9 percent.
    Steven Joyce, who served as Minister for Finance under Bill English, told Kerre McIvor that as the financial support dries up, the true cost of lockdown will be revealed.
    He says that keeping the borders closed has been a big factor in this decline.
    "For the first time ever, we've done this unintentional experiment where we've worked out what happens when we close [New Zealand]. And at the bare minimum, it's five percent of the collective New Zealand income for the year."
    Joyce says that reopening the borders and letting people in is not just about tourists, but letting key workers and international students in as well.
    "This suggestion we should be able to find all the people we need to do the work we want from internal sources is unrealistic."

  • Former Police Ten 7 host Graham Bell has spoken out in defence of the show after calls were made for it to be scrapped and argued that critics should examine the causes of crime instead.
    Bell spoke to Kerre McIvor this morning after Auckland councillor Efeso Collins made a public call for TVNZ to stop broadcasting the highly rating reality show.
    Collins says it feeds on racial stereotypes of young brown men being brutish and described it as a "chewing gum TV show".
    "Crime and all its uncomfortable and unfortunate truths are not going to disappear if they get rid of Ten 7, are they?" Bell told McIvor.
    "We need to face and accept there is a problem instead of looking for ways to hide from it, that's my approach."
    Asked by McIvor how the show decided on which criminals to feature, Bell replied: "The police don't select who they are looking for. The people who commit the crimes are the ones that select themselves to be sought."
    "There is no bias towards any colour, race, creed or any other type of person. It's whoever is wanted today is who goes on the show. It's as simple as that.
    Asked, based on his experience in the police, whether there was an inherent mistrust towards Māori and Pasifika, Bell replied: "It's very difficult not to develop a slight attitude to a group of people that are constantly offending."
    "It's an unfortunate fact that certain sectors of our society are grossly over-represented in the crime statistics," he added.
    "I don't have the answer for that but cancelling a show like Police Ten 7 is not going to help."
    Bell, who hosted the show for more than 12 years, told McIvor: "Police work is tough. It requires courage and persistence in the face of a lot of criticism. This sort of criticism that is floating around at the moment is far from helpful, you have to say."
    "I would argue that Mr Collins is approaching this from the wrong end. Perhaps he should be looking at why we've got this problem in our society.
    "Does he want police to ignore crime if it is committed by brown people?"
    Bell said New Zealand needs to focus on the social drivers of crime and ignoring the over-representation of Māori and Pasifika in crime statistics is "just ignoring cold, hard uncomfortable truths".
    "There have been generations of familial inadequacies by sectors of our society that have created a lack of aspiration, a lack of self-worth, a lack of self-respect and we see it everywhere," Bell said.
    "It's not only in crime, we see it right through society. There are sectors of our society who are over-represented in our statistics and everybody in society would be better off if that were not the case".
    Police Ten 7 producers Screentime have also hit back at the suggestions.
    Screentime Chief Executive Officer Philly de Lacey told NewstalkZB the criticism is unfair.
    "It plays a really important function in society. It's a crime solving. useful for the public, and it's also an education tool."
    NZME has approached TVNZ for comment on this story.
    Earlier today, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon added his voice to calls to end Police Ten 7, saying that the show reflects racist policing in New Zealand.
    Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Foon said the show did "target more brown people than white people so therefore it is racist".
    Foon cited evidence that Māori and Pasifika were overwhelmingly more likely to be subject to force from the police, such as use of dogs and Tasers.
    Asked by Hosking if the statistics he cited reflected more on the actions of those being arrested, Foon held firm.
    "The police are racist," he said.
    He also defended the show, saying Ten 7 was a "good programme" that helped communities to solve crime but argued that they need to "proportionalise the filming of brown people".
    Asked if a quota system would work, Foon agreed.

  • A producer's speechless The Lion King musical has an immigration exemption, when local shows need support.
    126 border passes have been granted under the "other critical worker" category - for a limited run of the stage production from June.
    The production will employ more than 300 local workers, but only put five young Kiwis on stage.
    G&T Productions Terry O'Connor says he's gobsmacked.
    He told Kerre McIvor the Government should be supporting Kiwi talent and productions.
    "We're just asking for a level playing field while our borders remain closed. We just want a hand up or just fair deal."
    He says the amount of talent we've already got in the country's immense - and there's more people here waiting for opportunities than normal.
    "Due to Covid, most of our young people who went overseas to make careers have had to come back to New Zealand."
    Sole Mio's Pene Pati backs those calls. He told Kerre McIvor so many Kiwis are hungry to get on stage.
    "They're bringing in a massive production and only five of us go on stage? That's so sad, because I know some of the talent that's sprinkled around New Zealand."
    Promoters Live Nation say the Lion King needs international talent for continuity, and because it's a difficult show to learn.

  • Dumping landline surveys won't stop Colmar Brunton's poll capturing all of New Zealand.
    The company's latest poll has ditched house phone calls, and now makes contact through mobile phones and online polling.
    Concerns have been raised about whether older generations are able to be contacted.
    But Kantar head of analytics Jason Shoebridge told Kerre McIvor they have a harder time getting young people to respond.
    "Older generations are a little bit easier, but in terms of doing this poll, we make sure we quota so we are getting a representative sample of New Zealanders which we tie back to the Census."
    He says they are ensuring that young and older people can take part.
    "We have maintained calling in respect of the political poll, and we are even now calling mobiles, because it does give us a robust methodology."

  • An Auckland bar owner who was forced to sell his home to keep his businesses afloat is angry the move to Alert Level One has taken so long.
    Mat Jorgensen told Kerre McIvor his blood boil is boiling, as he has been burning through $10,000 a week to keep his business alive from the Government's crippling Covid-19 restrictions.
    He says they were never able to make money under Level Two.

  • The Government's investigation into a pumped hydroelectric scheme to make New Zealand become totally powered by renewable energy resources will take at least a year longer than anticipated
    Labour's promise that 100 percent of New Zealand's electricity will be renewably generated by 2030 could be jeopardised by delays to its flagship NZ Battery project.
    Dr Jim Hinkley is a Senior Lecturer in Renewable Energy Systems, and he joined Kerre McIvor to talk about the issue.

  • A confronting topic is being brought to the forefront in a moving new series.
    A New Zealand Herald series "The Brains Trust" is looking at dementia, a terminal disease that can last up to eight to 10 years, and has no cure.
    The cruel disease is growing rapidly in our ever-ageing population.
    Deborah Pead, who's mum suffers from dementia, told Kerre McIvor it's hard to watch someone go through it.
    "There are many different ways it manifests itself. And it's hard when your mum is so dynamic and powerful and everything in your life, to see that decline."

  • This tricky virus seems to be playing very hard to get, doesn't it?
    I know that Covid 19 exists and that if you get it bad, it's a very nasty virus to get.
    But given that we've had a young man sweating it out in an enclosed space with other gym goers and a previously undisclosed dodgy lodger going door to door and STILL nobody has it - surely even the most hysterical Covid alarmist would have to concede that perhaps the threat to civilisation has been somewhat overstated.
    Surely the government is going to have to temper the safety first, abundantly cautious approach with a bit of common sense. You might have heard Aysha Verrall - the deputy health minister - this morning with Mike.
    So surely that means region wide lockdowns in the future simply can't be justified. If the chain of transmission is so confined, keep the lockdown confined. And when we come out of lockdowns, we need to come out of them immediately.
    If the government decides at 4pm we all come down to Level 1, then we should be in Level 1 at 4.01. It is unconscionable to keep people constrained against their will for a second longer. And between now and the next outbreak, the Ministry of Health needs to lift its game.
    We went into a lockdown because there seemed to be no known contact for the young man who went to the gym - and that's because two of the families didn't disclose to contact tracers that there'd been contact between them.
    Once that contact was established, the young man became part of a tightly contained cluster. There was no need for the lockdown. One of the families also failed to disclose they had a lodger at home. If you were contact tracing, how could you not know this? Their methods need to improve, they need to have more people available to man the phones in the immediate aftermath of an announcement that there has been an outbreak, and those people manning the phones need to have the correct information.
    As has been typical from the start, messaging from the Ministry has been inconsistent, confusing and just plain wrong at times. We have had countless examples of that over the week. They simply have to do better.