You have to remember sometimes that Steven Joyce’s introduction to politics was as a campaign strategist. That explains why he is still obsessed with style over substance. He’s released the second of six glossy publications from his new Mobie super-ministry. Like the previous one – like the decision to form the super-ministry – there’s no meat behind it: the point is merely to appear busy.
I’m not going to go into a detailed critique of the Building Innovation paper because that would be like going into a detailed critique of the latest Top 40 pop-pap. But let’s look at a few facts:
Joyce lists 56 action points in his plan for boosting innovation. But not a one of them is actual new policy.
9 of them are listed as “complete” – they’re stuff the Government isn’t even doing anymore!
14 of them are listed as “new” but each and every one of these is about “exploring” or “investigating” doing something. So, there’s no new actua’ policy. There’s just signalling intent to look at possible policies. Remember how your mum used to say ‘if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything?’
After four years, we expect a bit more than a glossy report which could be summed up as “we know there’s a problem, we’ll look into it, promise”.
And what is one of the things that Joyce’s Mobie will explore? The tax treatment of R&D. Who canceled R&D tax credits? Who campaigned against the re-introduction of R&D tax credits in 2011? Joyce and his gang. So, the summary’s actually worse than I said before it’s more like “we know there’s a problem, we’ve just realised that we made it worse, we’ll look into it, promise”.
The report manages to set another of Joyce’s famous ‘goals’ – 1% of GDP spent on private R&D. There’s no timeline for achieving this, no policy either. As the New Zealand Institute once famously said of this government’s ’50 by 50′ greenhouse emissions reduction target: a goal is not a strategy.
Joyce’s reputation as the most over-rated minister just got stronger.