Written By: - Date published: 2:41 pm, May 21st, 2008 - 9 comments
Categories: bill english, economy, john key, kremlinology, same old national, workers' rights, youtube - Tags: bill english, kiwisaver, policy, wayne mapp
Seemingly content to coast along on the “time for a change” sentiment, the National Party are still refusing to offer any substantive details in major policy areas: government debt, work rights and retirement savings.
English ended up sounding like a broken record on Agenda a few days back. His stock answer was ‘I can’t tell you that until we’re closer to the election’ which is really just a continuation of National’s “small target” election strategy. They’re aiming to minimise risk until the last moment, and having the public know what their policy is in areas like industrial relations is a real risk. There are some rats that Key’s big business backers just won’t allow him to swallow.
In the interview below, English refuses to say what their target is on government debt. What we do know is that National wants to borrow more. If they lift debt from 18.5 per cent (where it is currently) to the 25 per cent they’re talking about, that’s an increase of $10.2 billion. Kiwi taxpayers will have to find another $600 million or so per year just to cover the interest. There seems little doubt that National means ‘increased debt’.
Nor would English come clean on his party’s industrial relations policy. Espiner questions him on National’s plans for “more flexible” employment law, alluding of course to Wayne Mapp’s now infamous ’90 day bill’ which would have allowed the most vulnerable workers to be fired without recourse after three months in a job. English wouldn’t say but presumably that proposal’s still on the table. It looks like National still means ‘less rights at work’.
He wouldn’t give any details on retirement savings either but English tellingly revealed that while KiwiSaver would be retained it may not be retained “in the same form”. It’s no secret that the Nats are under pressure from businees to water down KiwiSaver by reducing or scrapping employer contributions. So despite the fact they won’t say what their intentions are, it looks like National also means ‘crippling KiwiSaver’.
Contrary to Key’s pitch that a change to National means “all of the stuff you like but none of the stuff you don’t” it looks like what might actually be in store is a renewed assault on workers’ rights, a crippled KiwiSaver and increased National debt. It’s a pity they won’t just follow ACT’s example: come clean and let the public decide for themselves.