Hive News Wednesday: King jumps; Wheeler on Trump; English attacked on jobless and drugs; Auckland house values fall

Jacinda Ardern. Copyright Lynn Grieveson / Hive News

Bill English is taking plenty of flak over his comments on Monday that he was hearing from employers two or three times a week about how drug use was a reason why they could not employ local unemployed people and were having to import workers.

He was accused of using 'anecdata' to make policy and of downplaying the displacement of local workers by foreign workers.

Reporters and drug policy campaigners also challenged the prevalence of drug use among beneficiaries.

Benedict Collins reported that MSD figures showed that just 150 people a year either failed or refuse to take a drug test out of the 30,000 people a year who were tested.

CTU President Richard Wagstaff described English's comments as "disgraceful" and a gross exaggeration of the issue.

Meanwhile, some employers supported English's views. Horticulture NZ CEO Mike Chapman said 50% of Kiwi workers were telling orchardists they weren't willing to give up their drugs.

Drug Foundation Director Ross Bell said English was scapegoating New Zealanders.

King goes

The pressure on Labour to install Jacinda Ardern as Deputy Leader told this morning.

Annette King announced late this morning she would step down and retire at the end of the current term.

"This is totally my decision. I have always acted in the best interests of the party and at the forefront of my mind is ensuring Labour is in the best possible position to change the Government in September," she said.

Earlier in the week she had staunchly defended her position and lauded her experience relative to Ardern's.

Wheeler speech coming

Graeme Wheeler is scheduled to give a speech tomorrow that reinforces his Monetary Policy Statement views on the dangers of Trump-like protectionism.

"The speech is titled ‘Some thoughts on the balance of risks around the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy setting," the Reserve Bank said, noting it would be published at 9 am on the Reserve Bank website.

Some of the speech was reported this morning by Richard Harman after an interview with the Governor.

Wheeler will say in the speech that Trump's America First platform is the greatest source of uncertainty for the global economic outlook.

"Although a substantial US fiscal stimulus could be positive for growth in the global economy, the prospect of a marked increase in protectionism – coming at a time when global trade is growing slowly, and trade disputes are increasing – would have sizeable impacts on the global economy," he is reported as preparing to say.

He warned that new US tariff barriers could increase trading costs and lead to higher external funding costs.

"In such a situation portfolio flows may shift to larger more liquid financial markets and our exchange rate could fall, placing upward pressure on domestic prices and eroding real incomes," he is reported to be about to say.

QV sees lower Auckland values

Quotable Value reported this morning that Auckland house values fell 0.7% over the last three months to the end of February, while Hamilton values fell 0.8% and Christchurch values fell 0.5%.

However, nationwide values were still up 1.1% over the last three months and up 13.5% over the last year. Wellington rose 4.3% in the last three months and was up 21% from a year ago.

QV's Andrea Rush cited the Reserve Bank's 40% deposit requirement for landlords nationally for the fall and suggested the impact could be shortlived, just as it was the previous year after the 30% deposit rule was applied to Auckland landlords.

"It’s possible the latest quarterly decrease seen in parts of the Auckland will be relatively short-lived as the market drivers of relatively low interest rates, strong net migration and a high number of sales to investors remain," she said.

Quote of the day:

CTU President Richard Wagstaff on Bill English's comments about employers saying jobless Kiwis on drugs:

"I don't think we should run the country using anecdotes"

While you were sleeping...

Donald Trump unveiled a Budget plan that included US$54 billion worth of cuts to environmental spending and foreign aid to pay for an extra US$54 billion of military spending. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham declared it "dead on arrival" because of the cuts to State Department spending. (The Hill) US military officials warned the foreign aid cuts could worsen security. (NY Times)

Have a great day. My apologies for the delay. We were affected by the Amazon outage.

Kind regards

Bernard