We should remember to celebrate our victories, and yesterday was a day full of them.
First, there was the announcement of a settlement in the Oceania rest-home dispute – the workers held out and got the additional government funding passed on as they should. This was an example of a scummy employer taking advantage of workers it perceives as weak. Well, they stood up and we saw who was stronger.
Then, the man the Nats selected to drive through ACC privatisation was pushed on to his sword to protect Crushless Collins. John Judge is the sacrificial lamb for a culture of disdain for people in need and people who oppose government policy that has been fostered by ministers. Of course, the replacement, Paula Rebstock, is like replacing a pitbull with a rabid werewolf – at least she’s only temporary.
There was the addition to the Mixed Ownership Model (ie Asset Sales) Bill of a clause for returning the companies to SOE status by Order in Council. That means the coming Labour-Green government can return the remaining assets to public status with the flick of a pen after coming to power. It was also an acknowledgment by National that it may need to cancel the sales itself if the numbers don’t stack up.
Finally, the Nats gave up trying to stop caregivers getting paid for looking after their own family members. The Nats are still whining that there’s not enough money to pay these people fairly because, you know, they’ve blown all the money on tax cuts for the rich.
And, there was what they didn’t do. Bill English admitted that superannuation needs to be fixed – with the best option being Labour’s proposal to raise the main retirement age to 67 while allowing medical retirement from 60. But National still won’t act. They are isolated and, by their own acknowledgment, lacking in the political courage to do the right thing for future generations. (I don’t want to get into a long debate about this, so here’s the short version: when Key says it would save 0.7% of GDP by 2030, that’s $3b a year. Even if you offset a third of that for medical retirements, that’s $2b a year. There’s a lot of things that are higher priorities with $2b a year than supporting 65 and 66 year olds who can work – I would always spend that money on kids, poverty, and education instead).
Yesterday was a day when the Nats showed they have firmly lost control of the political agenda. Everything they did was a back-track, every one of their objectives was frustrated. If they had hoped to close the book on the class size debacle and move forward, they have failed.
Expect an attempt at distraction any day now. But also expect it to be greeted by the media as a attempt at distraction that it is.
PS. And another win was rumored on Twitter yesterday – apparently, Ports of Auckland has abandoned contracting out!