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The Speech: Active Government

Written By: - Date published: 1:16 pm, November 18th, 2012 - 25 comments
Categories: activism, david shearer, labour, leadership - Tags: , , ,

David Shearer’s speech to conference was everything that it needed to be – and more. The headlines will be about KiwiBuild, as they should be, it’s a stunning policy. But just as important for the future of the country is the strong commitment to active government.

It’s pretty simple. The “small government”, passive, leave everything to the “invisible hand” approach to government has failed. It has failed globally. It has failed in NZ. The last wasted four years this country has been going backwards on just about every social and economic measure. It’s time for a change. A real change. David Shearer promised to deliver:

I promise that from the day we take office, you will see big change. Right across the economy we will make fundamental changes. We will replace a simplistic hands-off approach with a smart hands-on one.

Monetary policy will change.

So when the high dollar is killing our exporters we will give the Reserve Bank tools to act on the exchange rate. Our manufacturers are our job generators. If they’re doing their bit, we should do ours with intelligent government.

The R&D policy will change.

Most of what New Zealand exports today was known to the world before the industrial revolution. This government treats Research & Development as ‘nice to have’. We will treat it as absolutely vital to grow our smart businesses so they can take their products to the world.

We’ll change our tax system for the better.

We will bring in what this economy desperately needs: a capital gains tax. We want people to invest in houses because they need a place to live, not because they get a tax free investment. To shift investment instead into productive businesses to grow jobs.

The savings policy will change.

We’ll enrol everyone into KiwiSaver. That will support our retirement, but also build an investment pool to power our best businesses. That means companies like F&P Appliances can be owned here, not sold off-shore.

We’ll change the approach to productivity

Kiwis work longer hours than just about anywhere else in the world. But you wouldn’t know it looking at our pay packets. That’s because the hands-off approach says: “pay low wages, cut back on conditions and ramp up casualization”.

That has to end. We’ll be hands-on. The Minimum Wage will go up. A Living Wage must be our goal.

And Labour laws will be reformed to restore decency. We are proud of our unions and our origins. We thank them for what they do in standing up for workers’ rights, but we need to be in government to back you up.

The procurement policy will change.

The government spends $30 billion a year on contracting goods and services. The simplistic hands-off approach says “forget about Hillside Railway workshops, forget about local jobs. Go for the cheapest offshore price.”

The intelligent hands-on approach says: “we get much more from each government dollar by investing in a Kiwi company”. So wherever it’s the smart thing to do, we’ll prioritise the local supplier.

The approach to education will change.

I started my working life as a teacher. So I have an appreciation of the valuable job teachers do. And I know a gimmick when I see one.

Bigger classes, unqualified teachers, charter schools and performance pay will achieve nothing. The intelligent approach, the one I will follow is the one that asks: what will it take to make this education system the best in the world?

That’s a government that I want to see. In 2014 we have our chance.

25 comments on “The Speech: Active Government”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    Is that the speech he prepared, or the speech he actually gave? Did he not mention … something else?

  2. That’s some Rockin policy M8! 😀

  3. prism 3

    Sounding good. And let’s have a committee that looks at innovation in policies that will provide significant advantages where applied. One that we can submit to as I think citzens can submit to the Law Commission for changes there.

    * I want to see the effect of secondary tax on the low income and beneficiaries changed.
    * Wipe the automatic drop in housing assistance when a beneficiary starts paid work.
    * I want parenting to be treated as training on the job for beneficiaries, with opportunities for all beneficiaries to get into the NCEA scheme and then be paid larger benefits while at the same they be encouraged to find a few hours of part-time work oppportunities, working with children, or something that combines with their parenting role.
    * I want help with transport for poorer people where there is poor public transport, who might have free vouchers to get them to the doctor etc.
    * The workers who are on the employer scheme for work experience with option of easy dismissal have this limited to 60 days, the employee to receive a wage subsidy as well as employer payment, and to report on the value of training received from the employer.
    * I want general competence for councils to be severely limited, very close to how it used to be, with a great limitation to borrowing, and that this must be from within the country. Perhaps through local government bonds. Anything else in concert with central government.
    * I want a share of regional GST collected being funnelled to a fund that the region can draw on for advanced infrastructure, stadiums, better water and sewerage for holiday crowd villages for instance.
    * I want a tendering system brought in for the top management roles in the public service.

    And I haven’t said anything about housing. Which is essential to be looked at with a practical scheme devised and started in January 2015 after Labour is re-elected. But everything has to be looked at. Government can’t just ride a hobbyhorse and wave that policy as a PR triumph it must work at improving and tweaking all its policies to make sure they are running effectively and helpfully.

  4. just saying 4

    How was the speech received conference attendees?

    • Hilary 4.1

      From twitter sounds like 2 minute standing ovation and even Patrick Gower called it a ‘powerhouse performance’.

      • just saying 4.1.1

        I’m not feeling very confident about Gower’s appraisals. Can anyone there confirm that it was a “powerhouse performance”. It didn’t read like a powerhouse speech to me

        • Stephen

          I was there. I am on record as being critical of his speaking. Frankly, having heard him speak before, I would not have believed this was the same guy. It was emphatic, natural, and convinced. I don’t know what they put in his cereal this morning but it’s election winning stuff.

  5. Hilary 5

    This comment got a lot of twitter attention and retweeting.

    Shearer: “I say to the people of Chch, we are committed to rebuilding your city from the grassroots up, not the Beehive down”

    • ianmac 5.1

      Great unless the Beehive gets in first and deletes the City Council and cements in its own team led by Steven Joyce.

  6. Cricklewood 6

    I have to say im not a fan of compulsary kiwisaver. As a single income family with 1 child im fighting to make ends meet now, losing $30 a week will really hurt im lucky if I can save that much now and that only covers school fees dentist etc some of that stuff would inevitably end up on plastic instead. Kiwisaver is great and i fully intend to join when my financial situation improves but for now im better off out. Id hate to lose that choice.

    • You_Fool 6.1

      As I remember the Labour Policy it is compulsory enrollment, you can still opt-out if you so desire. So you lose no choice (like ‘compulsory’ student union membership, which was anything but compulsory.)

  7. Hilary 8

    JS – Here is a tweet from someone who was there
    “I have been a harsh critic of Shearer as a speaker up until now but he really delivered the goods just now”

  8. Draco T Bastard 9

    So when the high dollar is killing our exporters we will give the Reserve Bank tools to act on the exchange rate.

    They could just print money rather than selling bonds. That would actually bring the exchange rate down rather than pushing it and interest rates up and keep the country out of debt.

    We will treat it as absolutely vital to grow our smart businesses so they can take their products to the world.

    I assume a tax change that will allow the rich to become even richer but no actual support of people with the ideas.

    We will bring in what this economy desperately needs: a capital gains tax.

    As if it’s the total fix.

    We’ll enrol everyone into KiwiSaver.

    Money is not a resource and so saving it doesn’t change anything. Building the productive facilities and keeping them NZ state owned would be far better.

    The government spends $30 billion a year on contracting goods and services.

    The simple fact of the matter is that government spending is what drives the economy. This is because government spending is (or should be) debt free spending that utilises our resources as needed to keep our society viable. The private sector can then, and only then, provide the stuff that people want that isn’t critical.

    At a guess, I figure that government spending should probably make up about 50% to 60% of the economy. Taxes need to be set so as to prevent over accumulation in the private sector.

    Generally speaking – right ideas, wrong policies.

  9. Craig Glen Eden 10

    I heard it was Shearers best speech yet but not awesome like some want people to believe!

  10. Dr Terry 11

    Well, he covers the ground rather effectively. It is impossible to forecast the practical outcome of a political leader’s rhetoric. Sounds great (just like Obama) but, of course, we have to “wait and see”.
    The Roy Morgan Poll of November 15 reveals that National has increased its lead by 2%, right on top of the unemployment figures and increased debt (not to mention all the rest of its bad news). Labour too has risen, but is 13% behind, not the 10% we keep hearing about. I hear nobody mentioning Shearer’s latest personal polling, but I understand that it is 11%. Maybe the dreadful article today by Matt McCarten will help lift it!! McCarten accuses Cunliffe of being “calculating” in his speeches, as though a leader being calculating is some kind of evil! A leader damn well needs to be calculating, it is a virtue, not some kind of dread liability. I don’t know what is going on with Matt these days.

  11. Olwyn 12

    I would like to remind people that this speech reflects Shearer’s behaviour in last year’s leadership debates. By the time they got to Auckland and it was clear that Cunliffe was in the lead, he began tracking Cunliffe by saying very similar things. Then when he won the contest, he reverted to the implicitly right wing/explicitly bland position he has occupied since. I trust neither him nor his backers. As just saying observed on a different thread, the only people he treats as opponents are those on the left.

  12. irascible 13

    Sheare’s speech was a clear articulation of Labour’s policies and principles delivered unequivocally and with conviction. Gower and the other media seagulls who had already written thier reports of the reception to the speech would be forced to go back and rewrite their stories.
    Certainly, compared to the mangling of English and the brain fades that characterise KeY’s speeches Shearer certainly looked and sounded a leader and PM in waiting.

  13. Populuxe1 14

    Flashes of being on to it will still be insufficient if he continues to bumble around the rest of the time. The caucus needs to get over itself, purge dinosaurs like Mallard, purge all the third-way obsessives, and get back to first principles under a genuine star like, well, Cunliffe.

  14. Shearer can climb another rung or two in the polls ladder after just his first speech and only the first of Labour’s major policy announcements. Well done Shearer, bring it.

  15. rosy 16

    I’m pleased to see a mention of a Living Wage rather than a minimum wage. This is going to require big change in policy direction and strengthening labour and employment laws. It would mean changing contracts for services (I’m thinking especially of catering and cleaning services) to include explicitly stating how much staff performing those contracts would be paid. I hope they have their battle plan worked out because the Nacts will hit them on this. However if Boris Johnson can do it, then there is no reason that Labour can’t.

    Johnson said “some of the most red-blooded capitalist firms you can imagine” were signing up to the living wage because they realised it helped to create productivity and ensured staff enjoyed a decent standard of living….

    “I would like to see Whitehall generally in London, I would like to see Labour councils, Tory councils, Liberal councils, supporting low-paid workers and pay the London living wage. A huge number of public sector workers could benefit from this.”

    Johnson unveiled a trademark that formally recognises and accredits employers who pay the London living wage, courtesy of the Living Wage Foundation, which hopes the mark will become as recognisable as the Fairtrade logo.

  16. Jenny 17

    Ignoring the climate won’t change

    Future generations will curse us

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