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Upper Hutt Leader : August 31st 2011
43 UPPER HUTT LEADER, AUGUST 31, 2011 NEWS SENIOR Hairstylist required, hours include Weds, Thurs late night, & Saturdays. A clientelle is a bonus, ph Sharon 233 8442 CLEANER, Mon-Fri 8.30am - 11.30am well presented 021421830 Find a home that suits you perfectly Check out the Real Estate section of your Community Newspaper Phone 5289 654 4000401 Part Time Vacancies John Key campaigned for National on four key promises in 2008: closing New Zealand's pay gap with Australia; tax cuts; education progress standards and pruning the public service. Circumstances were somewhat against Mr Key. He inherited an economy that had been in recession for a year and it stayed that way for another six months, then came the Christchurch earthquakes, the loss of life and drain on the national coffers. Central Community Newspapers' regional reporter Jim Chipp assesses how those goals worked out for Mr Key. Key findings: report card on three years in power Reason to smile? Prime Minister John Key, pictured last week with MP Nathan Guy in Levin as they presented a $700,000 cheque for an urgent community care service. But measured on wages, tax, education standards and pruning the public service, it's a mixed bag for the PM's first three years. Photo: LEILANI HATCH/FAIRFAX VOTE 2011 Closing the pay gap This one didn t go so well -- defi- nitely a standard-not-achieved grade. In fact the gap has grown since the election, and in April this year Finance Minister Bill English attempted to put a posi- tive spin on the situation, describing New Zealand s lower wages as a strategic advantage. The figures aren t easy to com- pare because the two countries respective statistics depart- ments measure income differently and at different times, but it is still clear the gap is widening rather than closing. Australia s average weekly wage in November 2008 was A$911 (NZ$1127) and in Febru- ary this year A$1004 ($1243). New Zealand s average wage was $759 in the year to June 2008 and $769 in the year to June 2010, but fewer people were earning wages. Our unemployment at election time in 2008 was 4.6 per cent and this March it was 6.8 per cent. Business and Economic Research Limited chief econom- ist Ganesh Nana said the wage gap has not changed in the past three years and is unlikely to in the next decade. It s still significant and nothing has happened to it. Some would argue that it has got wider. The risk is that we continue to lose skilled people over the Tasman. Yes, it is sig- nificant, but I would argue that there are more important things we should be concerned about. Tax cuts Mr Key and Mr English came through with their promised tax cuts. The top marginal rate of 38c in the dollar on incomes over $70,000 a year fell to 33c with lesser cuts to every bracket below and company tax was cut from 30 per cent to 28 per cent. On the flip side of the coin, goods and services tax increased 20 per cent, from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent. Dr Nana said the cuts did not benefit New Zealanders: I don t think it made a significant dif- ference to the average New Zea- lander s ability to balance their budget. The big difference was for those on high incomes. The tax cuts were structured to benefit those at the top of the income scale the most, he said. What was needed was income at the bottom end of the scale to enable New Zealanders to con- tinue . . . spending and keep the economy going. National standards This one is a standard definitely not-achieved, not because they didn t do what the Government hoped they would achieve, but because it has so far failed to successfully introduce them across the country. Education Minister Ann Tolley has struggled to get pro- fessional educationists on board. As we went to press, Ms Tolley was beginning a fresh battle with integrated Rudolf Steiner schools, which run on a totally different timetable geared to the developmental progress of indi- vidual pupils, rather than to any state-ordered one. The head of Victoria Univer- sity s school of education policy and implementation, Professor Robert Strathdee, said identifying some students inability to progress was a good thing, but there were other, possibly better, ways to do so. There are plenty of good diag- nostic standards available to schools, he said. The official response would be sure, they might be there but schools haven t been using them . It s hard to get away from the feeling that there is an element of trying to enforce [standards] on some schools that haven t been identifying [students who are not progressing]. Have national standards been successfully implemented? The fact that such a high pro- portion of schools didn t submit the information is pretty tell- ing, he said. I think the Government is struggling to get traction with the teachers. A large part of national standards for the Gov- ernment is to provide clearer evi- dence for parents about their child s progress. It s difficult because of course parents want better information -- the debate is how best to pro- vide this. Pruning the public service Achieved with merit. The public service was capped at 38,895 staff in March 2009 and fell by 4.85 per cent to 36,973 by March.
August 24th 2011
September 7th 2011