Monday, August 04, 2008

National's blueprint for a teensy bit of change

OK, now I have come to this with no prejudice, I simply want to judge John Key on what he said, so here we go, and you know my expectations are low, but I’ll judge him on whether he:

a) At least re-implements National policies of the 1990s; and

b) Makes a positive step forward to reduce the role of the state where need be, and

c) Is consistent with National’s stated principles.

As he has 10 points, let’s give each one a maximum of 5. 5 means I couldn’t agree more, 4 is fairly impressive, 3 is right direction but nothing bold, 2 is one small step from Labour, 1 is barely better than Labour. 0 is no better and minus marks mean steps backwards.

  1. There will be an ongoing programme of tax cuts. OK well good, though the first will be Labour’s and there are no details. I’ll be generous and say 3.
  2. National will be disciplined about government spending. Again, sounds good, though as vague as can be. Appreciating the problem is at least something, so I’ll be super generous and say 3 again, though methinks the later points will betray this.
  3. National will stop the growth in the public sector. Hmmm it talks of reprioritisation, so at best it is barely better than Labour. No reversal of past growth means a 1.
  4. National will launch a full-frontal attack on gangs and the "P" trade they support. Um ok, it also includes “Fresh Start” programmes which could be positive. However, I also know this means giving the Police the sort of surveillance powers that are somewhat frightening, and it is about fighting the “war on drugs” which has failed everywhere else in the world. There would be a point for the attitude to youth crime, but one taken away for the attitude to surveillance. I feel generous giving them 0.
  5. Within the first 100 days of our first term, National will introduce to Parliament a bill to reform the Resource Management Act. Well yes, but it is all about making it easier for the state to build things, and very little about you. Yes I fully expect it will make a modest difference, but anything that enables the state to run roughshod over private property rights wont get my support. Again I’m being generous giving it a 1.
  6. National will tap into our communities and our private enterprises to rebuild the ladder of opportunity for every single New Zealander. Get past the waffle it means allowing the private sector to provide services funded by the state, like prisons, maybe even healthcare and education. If I’m optimistic about it, it could be a step forward so gets a 3. If, of course, it means contracting the private sector on a regular basis. It might finally convince the public that the private sector can do health and education rather well.
  7. We will set national standards in literacy and numeracy for all primary school pupil Well ok, but nothing new to see here either. Hardly more accountability for schools, no more choice for parents. What happens if schools and teacher don’t perform? Again a generous 1.
  8. As we cut taxes and grow average after-tax wages, we will progressively increase the amount of super paid to senior citizens. So MORE state dependency, more of a PAYE taxpayer funded burden that is unsustainable. Great. A big leap backwards. Let’s be generous again and say it is only a minus 4. Policy on superannuation since the late 1980s has been about “how can we encourage retirement savings” now the Nats have said “how can we spend more of current taxes on the elderly”.
  9. we will repeal the Electoral Finance Act. And once it's gone from the statute books we will reach out to all the parties in our Parliament to reach a genuine consensus about proper, workable, legislation that can replace it. You know if it was just the first sentence it would be a 5. However, National wants to reach “consensus” in a Parliament full of parties that peddle envy, statism and control. It also wants to ignore parties outside Parliament. I’m generous again in saying it loses only 2 points from the 5 for that, so it’s 3.
  10. a binding referendum on MMP by no later than 2011 You know, frankly I couldn’t care less. If it means this National Party being able to govern alone it means nothing to me. 1 point for being willing to have the debate.

So 12 out of a maximum of 50. Hmmm, not much really is it? So what should National’s blueprint for change be?

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