Tuesday, December 01, 2009

John Key aiming low

You know something's wrong with government policy when you can read this:

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Prime Minister John Key speaking from Trinidad yesterday when he said that New Zealand had adopted and implemented a radical set of policies in the 1980s with rapid and far reaching change. Key said Australia had not followed the same path but had made changes incrementally and had done much better as a result. John Key is right.

Of course this comes from John Minto. The Marxist journalist agrees with John Key, of course Key is dead wrong.

There are many reasons why Australia didn't take such a radical course, primarily because Australia wasn't in such a dire fiscal and economic state as New Zealand. On top of that Australia has long ridden on the back of a broader base of commodity exporting (digging minerals out of the ground) that has subsidised a rather profligate multi layer government.

However, what is also ignored is that, until recently, Australia hadn't turned the clock back. The Hawke/Keating governments stayed the course, and the Howard government went further, although in the latter years it was fond of dishing out pork, it did not turn back the clock. The New Zealand parallel would be if David Lange hadn't had a cup of tea, and the Bolger/Richardson government had lasted until a year ago. Australia has had 24 years of steady albeit slow economic liberalisation. New Zealand had 4 fast years, another 2 slower years, another 3 fast years, then 6 glacial years, and since then 9 years of largely going backwards.

Minto of course is an economic imbecile. New Zealand's GDP per capita had fallen behind Australia years before the 1984 election, indeed it fell from being one of the highest in the world to being down with the likes of Spain by the 1980s, lower than any other Western country, unless you counted Portugal and Greece, then the poor members of the EEC.

However, for Key to express the same imbecility is absurd.

I don't expect the government to adopt all of the policies, I do expect it to be interested in some, and in encouraging further debate and discussion. At the very least I expect this term of government to be about some level of reform and turning the opposite direction of the years of Helengrad, and gearing up voters to go much further in three years time.

It isn't about that, it is about National being a Conservative party, the very same party that sat on its hands and did sweet f'all for decades whilst the New Zealand economy slowly stagnated. The same party that allowed Muldoon to inflict nine years of control freak economics, waste and bullying upon the country, whilst they meekly let the likes of Derek Quigley get crucified for standing up against this destructiveness.

Say one thing about the Labour Party, when it gets into power it has the courage of its convictions to act, to do what it believes in, and to make changes quickly and radically. It did so after 1999, after 1984, after 1974, after 1957 and after 1935. National? It's only by sheer luck and dire circumstances that Ruth Richardson was able to drive the agenda so far so fast after 1990, after Bolger lied his way to power having been warned of how unaffordable some of the promises were.

National Party = party of professional "born to rule" conservative politicians
Labour Party = party of professional "chosen to rule" socialist politicians


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Excellent post. In some ways it is more interesting and more important what policies Labour adopts over the next few years in opposition. As you point out, they are the reformers. Barring the emergence of a new, strong third party we will continue to swing between the two existing main parties.

Sally said...

Very good article. Both parties have very little to be proud of.