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A meaningless list

Written By: - Date published: 6:53 am, June 26th, 2012 - 69 comments
Categories: accountability, national - Tags:

National’s latest plan to save the country – make another list of targets! Targets that we won’t know have been achieved or not until 2018 – National would need to be a 4 term government to ever be held accountable to these targets. Once again, you can’t help but quote the New Zealand Institute’s critique of National’s promise ‘close the gap with Australia’: a goal is not a strategy.

Funnily enough, closing the gap is not on this list. What is on the list is a curious mix of the utterly unambitious, the impossible, and the deceptive.

I’m just going to look, mainly, at the ones that are billed as ambitious but are actually just extensions of the current trends

Check out the NECA targets:

Isn’t there something odd about those graphs? Isn’t it actually the ‘to reach target’ line that best fits with the trend over the past decade? The ‘current trend’ lines look unreasonably low. By my reckoning, the NCEA goals will more or less be achieved just on current trends. And, if they wouldn’t, well what’s the plan to get there? Where’s the extra, targeted money? There isn’t any plan, there isn’t any resources.

Then, there’s the rheumatic fever target:

I can’t help but notice that RF rates were flat to downward trending before National came to power. They’ve increased by about a third under National. Turning this around would be worthy, RF is just one disease of poverty caused by overcrowding and poor quality housing. But where’s the housing programme to get there? Where are the standards for private landlords?

Then, there’s the crime rate target:

OK. Looks ambitious but, actually … for starters, the ‘start’ point is well above where crime actually is (922 at the end of 2011) and 833 by 2017 is above where the long-term trend is taking us:

Finally, the benefit target. 23,000 fewer people who have been on the benefit for longer than a year by 2017. Does anyone know by how much the number of people who have been on benefits for longer than a year has increased under National? 42,000.

So, this ‘ambitious target’ is to undo half the damage we’ve seen under National. And, there’s no plan to do it. The solution to people being on benefits is jobs. But National says that only the private sector can create jobs (except when they’re promising 170,000 jobs in the next four years). So, how can it be a government target to get people off benefits if they don’t control how many jobs there are for people? Like the NZ Institute said: a goal is not a strategy.

69 comments on “A meaningless list ”

  1. tc 1

    More platitudes for the sheeple to lap up and think ‘by golly those chaps are onto it bravo and tally ho onto surplus’.

    Why shouldn’t shonkey and co think these will not lure the focus off their appalling record of non achievement while they flog off the assets as the media lack the motivation to ever pull them up with facts.

    You’re seeing an orchestrated set of dog whistling to smoke up the joint while they plunder the family assets and education/welfare/crime are proven emotive topics they’ve been consistently using to those ends, oh and screwing them up because they can.

  2. So, how can it be a government target to get people off benefits if they don’t control how many jobs there are for people?

    James, you either ignore or don’t listen to what National says they want to do.

    Governments don’t control how many jobs there are, they can’t force businesses to have specific numbers of employees.

    Building a more competitive economy

    A competitive economy trading successfully with the world is the best way to build sustainable economic growth that creates jobs and grows incomes.

    National’s approach to economic development recognises that competitive and growing businesses create new jobs. We’re working across different industries to remove obstacles to investment, and to provide the right underlying conditions for growth, so our businesses can prosper, trade profitably, and grow.


    National have openly and widely promoted this approach. There’s plenty to debate with it. It’s hard to intelligently criticise something that you don’t know – or ignore.

    • JH 2.1

      I haven’t ignored what National says they want to do.

      The economic development policy doesn’t work. They under-delivered by 16,000 on their job projections for last year.

      Actually read the quote you put in there – none of that is actual policy, it’s platitudes. In fact, wasn’t the economic development policy the one where they had that 120-point list? whatever happened to that list?

      God, I wish you would just go back in your hole, Pete. Everyday you come here and act like a dick and generally destroy any attempt at real conversation. I’m only not banning you because it’s instructive for us to see the way the moronic Right thinks.

      • Pete George 2.1.1

        Everyday you come here and act like a dick and generally destroy any attempt at real conversation.

        Really? Offering different information and views destroys “real conversation”. Or do people and parties not like their prescribed conversations challenged?

        We encourage robust debate and we’re tolerant of dissenting views


        (Yes really. We have an enviable record on robust debate. But it’s not a fuckwits’ charter. JH )

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          Petey: “Offering different information…”

          Information? And then you woke up.

          “Governments don’t control how many jobs there are…”

          And right on cue, Rosy demolishes your assertions with one simple fact: the unemployment rate in Austria.

          Here’s another one: NZ government spending as a percentage of GDP: currently around 35% (32% between 1999 and 2008).

          Responsibility for 35% of GDP = no control over employment rates?

          You can’t even come up with robust idiocy, let alone debate.

          • freedom

            credit where it’s due,
            Pete’s information is generally as different from reality as you can get

    • Government policy has no effect on job creation?  You are such a crack up Petey.  Your failure to understand economics is very apparent.

      Yet you are convinced you are right?  How do you expect us to have a meaningful debate with you when your beliefs are so rigid? 

      • rosy 2.2.1

        Hey Pete, do you know that Austria has an unemployment rate of 3.9% – in the middle of the European financial crisis? Do you know why that is? – the government plans for job creation and to save jobs – like subsidies to allow firms to keep staff on during the recession and a jobs council that analyses all government policy in terms of it’s impact on jobs. The opposite of NZ government policies that are set for ‘market forces’ to control job creation. So yeah, government policy has a direct effect on jobs.

        • TightyRighty

          What’s the unemployment rate in the non mining states versus the mining states rosy? Might paint a different picture of your “government knows best” dichotomy.

          • Pascal's bookie


          • freedom

            Austria tighty, A u s t r i a

            wikipedia note for those who are interested in mining jobs in Austria
            Mining in Austria is an industry on the decline.

            After a period of postwar expansion, mineral production has stagnated in recent decades, and metals mining continues to decline, because of high operating costs, increased foreign competition, low ore grades, and environmental problems. All the metal mines in the country were closed, except an iron ore operation at the Erzberg mine (producing 1.8 million tons of iron ore and concentrate in 2000) and a tungsten operation at the Mittersill mine, which was the West’s largest underground tungsten mine. Most of the growth in the mineral resources area was in the production of industrial minerals, the area in which future mining activities will most likely be concentrated, mostly for domestic consumption.

            • rosy

              Thanks Freedom… It still has a bit of natural gas too…

              Anyway, what can the government do to create jobs? This – Principles of the Austrian labour market policy

              – reduce qualitative imbalances between supply and demand by promoting the creation of new and safeguarding of existing jobs;
              – reduce gender-specific segregation in the labour market;
              – achieve and maintain full employment; this means a sustainable integration in adequately paid jobs on the primary labour market for workers to gain a livelihood;
              – take active measures to improve skills in the widest sense of the term aimed at reducing unemployment, securing employment, helping people take up work, and supplying suitable workers to business and industry;
              – to the fullest possible extent ensure equal opportunities, contribute to eliminating gender segregation on the labour market with a view to reconciling work and family life;
              – enhance transparency on the labour market to accelerate and optimise the matching of supply of and demand for labour;
              – develop human resources by offering early outreach and support to businesses on issues that (might) have an impact on the labour market, by helping resolve questions of staff recruitment, skills training and shifts in working hours, and by devising alternatives to structurally-induced redundancies;
              – altogether, give preference to activation over passive income provision to the unemployed. But the latter’s livelihood must be ensured by the prompt and proper payment of benefits they are entitled to. Conversely, any wrongfully claimed benefits must be claimed back without delay;
              – counteract long-term unemployment induced social marginalisation, especially among older workers, by taking comprehensive measures. Assist individuals thus affected with activating their personal skills and finding access

              Rather more specific that ‘building a competitive economy.’

      • Pete George 2.2.2

        Not surprisingly you totally misunderstand, or deliberately misrepresent.

        How do you expect us to have a meaningful debate with you when your beliefs are so inaccurate?

        • mickysavage

          Question, do I go around in bleeding circles trying to show Petey the justification for my comment or do I just ignore him and enjoy the phenomenon that is the Standard and try to ignore his continuous attempted derailments of threads.

          I think I will have a Petey free day.

          But in the expectation this will be responded to Petey you said “Governments don’t control how many jobs there are”.  You then quoted National Policy suggesting that a free market was the best way to grow employment, that is essentially the Government should do nothing.

          I suggested that this is bollocks and Government action is important.  You just have to look around the world and throughout history to realise this is so.

          Now wait for response in three … two … one 

          • Pete George

            Claiming National has no plan and do nothing and then dissing all their plans and everything they do seems odd and contradictory.

            that is essentially the Government should do nothing.

            It is nothing like that. This government, like any, does many things, some of which affect the economy and the job markets.

            There are plenty of things National does that merits debate and and some deserve criticism. There will always be arguments over the balance between private sector and public sector employment and job creation.

            Of course Government action is important. It’s the aim and methods of that action that’ needs debating.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              PG 7:20: “Governments don’t control how many jobs there are…”

              PG 8:53: “This government, like any, does many things, some of which affect the economy and the job markets.”

              Flippy floppy wishy washy waffle wiffle, from Pete George, the embodiment of meaningless shite.

              • I didn’t think that would be hard to understand. Government obviously affects jobs, but it can’t control how many there are (and not go broke).

                If government could control how many jobs there are shouldn’t we have had zero unemployment during the Clark nine years?

                • Kotahi Tane Huna


                  There are always people in transition between jobs (from getting the sack, for example), and of course there are also unfortunately people who are essentially unemployable.

                  • freedom

                    what does Pete do for a job again?

                    • felix

                      He generates visionary action-items, reinvents mission-critical vortals, and incentivises compelling initiatives to enable world-class deliverables.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      For some reason, I associate Pete with the cane happy teacher in Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Roger Waters describes PG rather well, I think:
                      When we grew up and went to school
                      There were certain teachers who would
                      Hurt the children any way they could
                      By pouring their derision
                      Upon anything we did
                      And exposing every weakness
                      However carefully hidden by the kids
                      But in the town it was well known
                      When they got home at night, their fat and
                      Psychopathic wives would thrash them
                      Within inches of their lives

                    • Te Reo Putake – that sounds self inflicted, you do realise you’re the dunce of derision here? Maybe not.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Ooooh, I think I may have scored a palpable hit on a palpable sh1t.

                    • Funny, you’ve done it again.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Yep, it ain’t hard making you look silly, Pete. After all, you do the bulk of the work yourself.

                • mike e

                  Wasn’t peter dunny apart of that successful Clark govt Propagada pete.

            • mickysavage

              You have just reconfirmed why debating with you is so pointless.  You have no understanding of left right politics or economics or history.
              You also resort to a series of semantic debates and you try and drag everyone else here down to your level so that you can beat us by experience.
              National’s philosophy is laissez faire, that is it thinks the Government should do nothing and leave it all to the market.  You say that this does affect the economy and therefore it is the Government doing something and I guess semantically that you are right.  But we are then in the unusual position where “doing nothing” is “doing something”.
              See the problem?

              • I see your problem.

                “You have no understanding of left right politics or economics or history.”

                “National’s philosophy is laissez faire, that is it thinks the Government should do nothing and leave it all to the market. ”

                You’re confusing right politics theory with National practice, which are very different.

                National practice has mostly overlapped Labour practice over the last quarter of a century, they are both largely centrist, both with a bit of leaning both ways. National has been criticised strongly from the actual right for doing nowhere near enough different to Labour.

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  More bullshit.

                  National’s actions in government are as far to the right as their polling tells them they can get without electoral annihilation.

                  Employment law is “centrist” is it? On the one hand, as a creature of “the centre” it’s nice of you to accept responsibility for our stagnant wages and mass exodus to Oz, but on the other, you’re “not even wrong”.

                  • Not bullshit – as often as I see National called right wing here I see them called left wing elsewhere.

                    Employment law is tweaked a little by both National and Labour, but it’s nowhere near extreme either way. Except that it may seem extreme to those who are more extreme.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      Nowhere near extreme? Is that the new benchmark, Pete?

                      Or is it a strawman? The thesis is that employment law in NZ is more to the right. Not “centrist”.

                      Unless your claim is that the centre is responsible for this, I suggest you rethink your position.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Tweaked? An unfettered right for bad bosses to sack staff for no reason at all is a tweak? That’s very comforting for the newly unemployed, Pete. The removal of bargaining and access rights for unions is a tweak, too? The removal of access to union negotiated employments agreements is a tweak, as well?
                      Or are these things symptomatic of an adherence to the discredited philosophies of the dry right? I’m thinking its the latter.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      PG, the policies of the last 30 years have been far right wing and not even close to centrist. This includes the last Labour led government. This government, with the connivance of the Hair God, is going even further to the right.

              • Jackal


                National’s philosophy is laissez faire, that is it thinks the Government should do nothing and leave it all to the market.

                National has done something, they gave a disproportionate tax cut for higher income earners. Being that a lot of those people are private sector business owners, National blindly expected unemployment to reduce.

                However they fail to understand that the rich have no reason to create jobs while their incomes are increasing and there are other safer investments like unproductive housing to sink their money into. Nact increasing the wealth of the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor was in fact a disincentive to job creation in New Zealand, as the woeful unemployment figures attest to.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Being that a lot of those people are private sector business owners, National blindly expected unemployment to reduce.

                  Considering that John Key did promise to lower wages are you sure they did it blindly? Sure, the people who voted for them may have done so blindly but I’m not sure you can say that about the upper hierarchy within National, the ones that actually set policy. There’s too much history showing the opposite happens under Nationals preferred policies and that hierarchy will know that history.

            • Ed

              What plan was being dissed, Pete?
              Can you give a clear explanation of plans/ methods for meeting any one of the targets?

              I’m not aware of any plans – isn’t that the point of the whole discussion?

          • freedom

            the circles trip would be a long long day
            and at its end you would only be reaching for the kill switch

            Pete lives on a mobius strip where government policy and economic reality inhabit either side, see each other from a distance but remain absurdly ignorant of their coactive reality

    • muzza 2.3

      “National’s approach to economic development recognises that competitive and growing businesses create new jobs. We’re working across different industries to remove obstacles to investment, and to provide the right underlying conditions for growth, so our businesses can prosper, trade profitably, and grow.”

      –Translation, National will alter legislation to ensure that the corporate monopolies are able to to employ more shelf stackers and and check out people…We are not sure who they will be serving at the til, because this policy keeps wages really low, and akshully we never knew how to raise them anyway.
      Those difficult industries such as unions, which keep members wages above what our pay masters are happy about are a bit of a pain, but we are working to get rid of them, so we can fool some people with the word ‘growth & prosper”
      Little Timmy Grosser is working hard to further our trade ties by selling out what is left of NZ, which will tie nicely in with the asset sales, and we can really bee seen as a “global player” by the WTO etc, “perhaps I should check about a job there, or maybe head the IMF, yeah that sounds right”

      Pete, do you ever think that being part of a system where all you do is support the selling out of this country might at sometime come back at you….

      My mistake, of course it already has, sycophant

    • lprent 2.4

      As far as I can tell National have been systematically destroying our ability to start new businesses that earn new income (and jobs) for the country. They have a clear preference for businesses that can loosely be described as crony capitalism – you don’t have to have brains – you just have to have contacts.

      In other words:- selling extractive rights and legal priviledge to overseas interests while taking a cut as bankers, accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, and ‘consans’ on the way through. Now try and show me ANYTHING that National have initiated that doesn’t fall into those two categories. Mind you I rather expect that you will be incapable of telling the difference.

      I usually describe this as the Kings College approach to business. Monumentally dumb people who have the illusion that they are being smart when all they are capable of in business is acting as simple estate agents. It is a negative sum game for the country and National never seem to tire of doing it

      • Pete George 2.4.1

        If Labour and Greens had been able to form a government this term what would they have done differently regarding job creation, and how much better don you think our unemployment and our economy would be doing by now?

        • mickysavage

          Heaps and the economy and the number of employed would be way better.

          • Pete George

            Ok, thanks, I didn’t realise it was that simple and would be so successful. Next election I’ll vote for Labour, or a potential coalition party.

            • felix

              Yes you should, and seeing as you’re closest to the Green Party on policy (as opposed to self-image) you should start there.

            • bbfloyd

              Oh joy,…. yet another potentially useful debate wrecked by lill’ pete’s self promotion… I just wish that it wasn’t his own personal issues he continually foists on everyone…

              I know you don’t possess the wit, or the empathy with humans to follow this pet “little hair”, but inflicting your personal, and intellectual obsessions with yourself on people who aren’t trained psychotherapists is actually an act of abuse…

              Even the myriad opportunities you provide me for developing my lampooning skills aren’t justification for your obnoxious, overbearing lookatmelookatmelookatme noises… once in a while, it would be nice to be able to read these posts without having to wade through your enacting of your personal dramas all over the comments section….

              Yes, we understand that you have set yourself to replace “bad hair”pete when he’s finally worn out his welcome with right thinking people…. word of advice.. if you want a better than snowball in hells chance of being elected, best not to let too many people see you for what you really are….

              Havn’t you learn’t a thing from watching johnny”sparkles” operate? now there’s a piece of work to emulate, wouldn’t you say?

            • mike e

              About time you woke up to hisTory tory govts have always had higher debt and unemployment.
              Pathetic and Gullible

        • tracey

          i thought it was national who had to do better, delivering 2008 promises and all their ranting from the opp benches. Is mr dunne feeling proud right now, and if yes, of whar exactly, give me a list

        • Pascal's bookie

          Well given that it’s well under ayear since the lection Pete, I’m not sure what you’d expect.

          But one policy off the top of my head that might show pretty quick results was the idea of paying subsidies to employers to take on apprentices and what not. The money now spent on the dole for a young person would be going toward their wage. That would help in anumber of ways. Quite obviously it would change the cost of employing someone. Secondly it would help in the medium term with the skills issues in trades. Thirdly it would get young people doing something and help to alleviate the long term problems that can arise when young people don’t get a good start. Fourthly the people employed would be getting more in the hand than they would off the dole, this means they’d be spending more = more demand.

          National seems to think that the reason people aren’t being employed is that there are barriers in the way, put there by the government. They think that if they can remove those barriers, employment will follow.

          I don’t see in your quote what those barriers are. Without that info, there is no policy. What excatly is it that the government is going to do. “creating conditions” is not a policy, is a strategy of policy. So what is the policy?

          It’s like a military commander saying his plan is to degrade the enemies fighting capacity. That’s crap, a plan would be saying we will use cruise missiles to destroy their C&C networks, and then send in armoured battalians with close air support to attack enemy positions.

          I suspect that the main barrier to companies investing in new plant, or hiring, is lack of percieved demand. They won’t invest if they feel that they won’t get a return. If the government isn’t fixing that, or even acknowledging it, then how can they fix it?

      • Murray Olsen 2.4.2

        Crony capitalism is all they know how to do. What amazes me is that so many people don’t recognise this, maybe because they’re busy trying to make the right contacts.

    • tracey 2.5

      i think you have forgotten their 2011 billboards relating to more jobs, and the job summit.

      Aspirational is the word he turns to to make it sound like hes doing something.

    • KJT 2.6

      PG. If you think Governments cannot create jobs you live in cloud cuckoo land. look up the “New Deal”.

      • Colonial Viper 2.6.1

        And the private sector is DEFINITELY not creating jobs.

        This is of course what happens when financial capital is hoarded by wealthy institutions and individuals, as opposed to being put to work in the real economy.

        What a Government can do is to force a fraction of that hoarded capital to be expended into general economic circulation again.

        Its a powerful ability and the right wing are dead scared of it.

    • mike e 2.7

      pompous git Bit late in the day after 4 years in power unemployment rate continues to get worse.
      National are making the figures look better by denying the people who aren’t looking for work as unemployed + the numbers going to Australia each year has continued to rise every year National has been in power.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.8

      A competitive economy will always result in higher unemployment and poverty as capitalists reduce employment to a) reduce immediate costs thus boosting profits and b) over time the higher unemployment will drive wages down and thus boost profits.

      Exactly as we’ve been seeing over the last three decades since the 1st Act 4th Labour government introduced their neo-liberal reforms.

  3. Peter 3

    Thanks for taking the trouble to establish the facts and carry out the analysis in such a short space of time. Where are the MSM on this?

  4. Dv 4

    Can any one list ANY of Nats targets they have met in 4 years?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Reduced taxes for the rich; place their own people in senior positions throughout the public sector; suppressed organisation, wages and working conditions for those still employed.

      Pretty successful so far, although I am sure they wanted to achieve more by now.

    • tracey 4.2

      oh stop being so negative, you need to be aspirational and make a new list

    • Deano 4.3

      Does anyone have a list of all the lists?

  5. tracey 5

    Pete, how are they implementing the policy statemeny you quoted above, and by what measure is success deemed? They have been doing this since late 2008. Remember they knew about recession and gfc when writing their 2008 policy. By the end of this year real construction will blossom in chchch and the excuse of the earthquake becomes the benefit of the earthquake, will they take credit for the positive impacts..?

  6. It all about the Crosby Textor Aspirational politics, National are trying to take control of the media agenda.

    They lost control of the spin months ago and this is their big move to get back on track; watch for some follow announcements Tuesday/Wednesday. Waters might calm then we will see some lollies around the asset sales.

    It is like Mark Textor has got his hand up John Keys ass like a sock puppet.


    • freedom 6.1

      “Mr Textor said voters wanted governments to provide a stable workplace system that allowed for equitable outcomes and individual rewards”
      don’t let PG read that, his brain might explode trying to meld the puppetmasters’ words with his belief that governments don’t influence the employment market.

  7. @Freedom it is ludicrous how easy it appears to manipulate the body politic.

    • freedom 7.1


      Propaganda, Edward Bernays 1928
      for those who never read it

      • Bored 7.1.1

        That prat Freud reckoned women had penis envy and secretly needed nobs, his son in law Bernays reckoned the best way to control the masses was to convince them they did not have enough (of anything) and then to give it to them. Two very sick individuals.

        • freedom

          (possibly being a tad defensive here but i never commented on the book, simply provided a link. As an acknowledged mass media manual, i thought some may find it useful. )

  8. Jackal 8

    Oh dear! One of the first things you learn in motivational courses is to not set unrealistic targets. Nationals list is nothing but propaganda.

    • Te Reo Putake 8.1

      Indeed, Jackal. I don’t think National even get close to the usual SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timebound).

    • ad 8.2

      Coldly, in politics you should set no targets, only aspirational goals.
      You are never completely in control of all the causal factors, let alone the resourcing (like tax income) to achieve them.

      I recall how Helen Clark tried to to get out of the GDP growth commitments when she launched GIF. She knew policy has only limited agency.

      Key is going to regret this, because every quarter we will now get reports from the Departments showing how they are tracking. Each of those will become a news cycle in themselves. Each one of them will mean he or his responsible Minisers will have to explain, which is a spectacularly bad place to be in politics.

      They will likely be repeated endlessly by all Opposition parties in 2014. Just like his promise to reurn to budget surplus in that year.

      Seriously bad mistake from Key and his office – smells like a short term misdiretion launch to smoke “Asset Sale Day”, but with really bad long term rediretion heat-seeking downside.

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