I’m the last person who’d criticise freezing the pay of our MPs but John Key’s cynical opportunism is at best a piece of pointless and time wasting PR and at worst a signal to attack Kiwi wages.
Now before any of our regular right-wingers claim I’m reading too much into this it might pay to look at a couple of headlines this cheap imitation of Obama has produced:
These are both predictable media responses and, as they are both gallery pieces, I doubt very much that they weren’t helped along with a quiet off the record chat yesterday.
Now let’s get this straight, when you “freeze” wages in an inflationary environment (which is what we’ve got) then you are reducing them. That’s what National did last time it was in power during a recession and the result was a deepened recession and that famous wage gap John was so fond of talking about prior to the election (which reminds me, has anyone heard anything from this government about closing the wage gap? Or has that gone down the memory hole?). What the government needs to do now is send signals that wages should continue to increase because if they stagnate then we might as well flush all of that stimulus money down the toilet because lowering wages would have a massive dampening effect on the economy that no government-provided stimulation could turn around.
I’m hoping that Key’s announcement was simply an unpremeditated, if cynical, PR sugar fix and the fact his much touted letter to the remuneration authority hasn’t been received yet lends weight to that analysis but there is a chance that the game plan is to back-channel and foster the “wage restraint” argument until it becomes a meme the government is able to talk about itself without sounding like it’s leading the charge to see wages drop.
We’ll just have to wait and see.