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A rolling maul or treading water?

Written By: - Date published: 5:58 am, June 30th, 2009 - 33 comments
Categories: economy, john key, national/act government - Tags:

In the face of widespread criticism that his government is asleep at the wheel, John Key has boldly relaunched some tired old spin. See, we’re meant to believe the reason why our government, alone amongst the developed countries, has done bugger-all to save and create jobs is that, rather than a ‘big-bang’, Key has adopted for a ‘rolling maul’ of initiatives.

Would it be impertinent of me to ask just where this wonderful rolling maul is and what it consists of?

Key said there were ’40-50′ ideas from the Job Summit sent t0 ministers for development (you can see the list of ideas and the ministers assigned here) but they nearly all seem to have sunk without trace, and are mostly small beer anyway. We’re meant to believe that there’s all kinds of work going on ‘behind the scenes’ that will (eventually) lead to policy. Bollocks.

The ministries are focused on trying to carry out their existing responsibilities with less money and fewer staff. And they’re leaking like sieves. At the moment, there’s not the capacity to develop these supposed wonder ideas and if it were happening, we would have heard about it. Far from developing exciting new policies, Ministers aren’t getting the basics done. Chopper Tolley, for example, hasn’t even replaced the new ECE regulations due for July 1, which she binned back in November, and hasn’t announced the new ECE funding rates, also due on July 1.

The truth, the scary truth, is the reason the government has lost control of the political agenda and shows no signs of regaining it, is that they’re out of ideas on the economy. They came into power with a smattering of policies – tax cuts, some anti-PC populism, and some gifts for their mates but have found themselves tasked with confronting the challenge of a generation.

It’s clear that they’re just not up to it. Key is way out of his depth. English is an ideologue, more obsessed with slashing government like in the 90s than doing what works. Smith and Hide are liabilities. Bennett, Wong, Collins, Coleman, Heatley, Tolley, Brownlee etc are empty suits with no ideas. Sharples and Turia are in dreamland. The good ministers – Finlayson, Power, Groser – are sidelined.

It’s not going to change. Incompetent ministers aren’t suddenly going to become competent. Key, who always just wanted PM on his CV, isn’t suddenly going to develop the vision and drive to lead us out of this economic mire. This is a government treading water, and slowly running out of energy for even that.

33 comments on “A rolling maul or treading water?”

  1. infused 1

    I’m quite happy for them to do nothing. A lot of the jobs created during the last 7 or so years were only here because of a booming artificial economy. Look at the countries that are pumping billions in to their economy, nothing is happening. I’m glad the National govt is not wasting our money.

    • Bill 1.1

      Maybe if those unspecified countries you are referring to pumped money into the real economy instead of throwing taxpayer billions at the banks in the forlorn hope of some trickle down?

      Which is surely the argument. Not ‘to stimulate or not to stimulate’, but ‘to stimulate at the bottom and wait for a percolator effect, or to stimulate at the top and wait for a trickle down’.

      If the government is not going to attempt governance at all ( as seems to be becoming the case) then maybe it’s time we gave it a crack ourselves? Except I suspect you’re not keen on that idea either.

      So government devoid of governance it is then.

  2. tsmithfield 2

    Our unemployment rate is actually quite good compared to a lot of countries. Therefore, it could be argued that there has not been the same need to mortgage our futures on dubious stimulus packages.

    However, the government has done some quite good things that are not as spectacular but never-the-less quite effective.

    An example is the movement of the GST threshold for going onto the payments basis. This has been lifted from 1.2m to 2m. For us this has meant an input into cashflow of about 10k through the adjustment that occurs when changing the GST calculation method. This is approx 1/5 a salary. So, when multiplied across the country, this move in itself has probably saved quite a few jobs

    • felix 2.1

      Bill and John have been telling us for eight months that they’re spending more on their stimulus package, by population, than just about any country in the world.

      You don’t believe them I see.

      • jarbury 2.1.1

        Was that before or after they canned the tax cuts?

        Australia has probably had one of the largest stimulus packages – and (surprise surprise) they’re one of the countries least adversely affected by the recession.

        • gingercrush

          They were also not in recession before the world-wide recession hit. They’re also heavily involved in mining which will always cushion them. Not to mention much of what they export are going to countries who themselves are not facing large recessionary pressure.

          • Draco T Bastard

            They’re also heavily involved in mining which will always cushion them.

            Seems that reality disagrees with that statement.

            The Trouble With Energy
            Part 1
            Part 2
            Part 3
            Part 4

      • gingercrush 2.1.2

        That is because New Zealand stimulatory practice isn’t through constant borrowing unlike nearly every other country. Our stimulus on the whole is fast-tracking existing programs. Its still a stimulus hence why the OCED and the World Bank have both said New Zealand has reached its limit of what they can do to provide stimulus to the economy.

        • jarbury

          What has been fast-tracked? A few roading projects, a couple of schools…. and a very small number of state houses?

  3. I think the fact that unemployment hasn’t hit 8% (yet) has only meant there hasn’t been quite the same political pressure for the government to do more.

    It’s not much consolation for the 1000 people a week losing their jobs though, or the tens of thousands more who are worried about losing their jobs.

  4. gingercrush 4

    I do find it hilarious that there is always constant talk of the National Party being arrogant. Yet anyone reading this can smell the arrogance of those on the left. But you go on thinking what you believe. We’ll be laughing back at you in 2011.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.1

      Coming from the guy that reckons Krugman, Stiglitz, Keynes et al are wrongity wrong wrong about economics, but won’t explain why.

      Any way, this arrogance you see. Is it more or less than the arrogance in this:

      We’ll be laughing back at you in 2011.

      Perhaps you could give me an example.

      • gingercrush 4.1.1


        I never said they were wrong about economics. I just simply do not agree with borrowing millions of debt on stimulus.

        As for why this post is arrogant. That is obvious. When you believe just three people in National are talented. You clearly don’t even know what you’re talking about. I don’t think you’ll see DPF rolling out a post declaring everyone in Labour talentless. Even though if you’re going to talk about talent. You should be looking at Labour. Because while they have some good members. Many on their side have clearly been politicians for simply too long.

        • Pascal's bookie

          I never said they were wrong about economics. I just simply do not agree with borrowing millions of debt on stimulus.

          So you disagree with them, but think they are right? Surely not.

          Surely you disagree with them because you think they are wrong? Do you think that those guys, with their fancy degrees and book learning, and prizes from the nobel people are unaware of the debt issue? Just saying you disagree with them is itself arrogant as all hell unless you can show why they are wrong to think the debt is worth incurring.

          As for the rest,. how arrogant you are, just saying that obviously National has a lot of talent and that such an idea just goes without saying, and that I should be talking about the things you think I should be talking about and what have you.

          But anyway, do you think the post is more arrogant, or less arrogant than this:

          We’ll be laughing back at you in 2011.

          • gingercrush

            Do grow up PB. How many neo-liberals have degrees. Indeed how many neo-liberalists teach economics. Would you agree with everything they have to say? Would you agree with them at all? What about bank economists. Do you agree with much of what they say? After all, according to your pathetic analysis. Failure to agree with anyone that has either a Nobel Prize or a University degree wihout an explanation makes you arrogant. You’re pulling at straws PB. I have stated numerous times why I didn’t agree with borrowing millions/billions of debt. Its called an opinion. I guess we’re not allowed opinions anymore.

            • Ari

              Opinions are like assholes- they’re not useful unless they’re connected to some plumbing that makes them work. 😉

              I don’t personally mind you disagreeing about something, but you should at least be willing to put up a reason for everyone and defend it.

            • Pascal's bookie

              hahaha. What a load of straw. You burst in laughing at how arrogant we are and skiting about how National has already got 2011 sewn up, and now you’re crying about the mean old bookie calling you out.

              Heat. Kitchen.

              I don’t agree with some things neoliberals say, and I do state why I disagree with them, I point out where I think they are wrong and I point out who I do agree with.

              You tend to state your opinions as if they are fact. I’ve seen you say as fact that Obama’s plan has already failed, (are you aware that it is hardly even started yet? that most of the money is yet to be spent?), and then claim that this proves Krugman wrong. Are you aware that Krugman predicted Obama’s plan would be too small. Do you actually read the people that you claim are wrong?

              Please point me to where you have said why you think the stimulus plans are a bad idea. All I remember seeing from you is statements about how it will lead to debt. No one disputes that, so it is irrelevant. You need to explain why it is wrong to think that the debt will be a worse problem. ie, you need to explain why Krugman, Stiglitz, et al are wrong. And yes, they know all about the debt.

              You are perfectly entitled to think they are wrong of course, no one has said otherwise.

  5. Bill 5

    Was it Hooten on Radio NZ yesterday arguing that the government should do nothing because if they did something and it didn’t work then that wouldn’t look good?

    Maybe next time somebody should set up the ‘Paper Cut Out Party’?

  6. Jasper 6

    Where’s the boot camps?

    Keys State of the Nation speech from January last year stated that he had a comprehensive outline of how to effect that policy. So far, so dull.

    It’s got merit, but rather than “boot camps” why not take the idea one step further and expand it to include all those who are not in work, training or study and aged between 17 – 30, and send them off to a training camp for 6 months.

    Training camp will cover all the physical requirements for the police, army, navy, and airforce. At the end of 6 months, all trainees can choose which path they want to take. If they don’t want to go into the defence force, but look for work, all well and good but they won’t be eligible for the dole (because 6 months at training camp will be paid for.. much like 6 months at police college is paid for at the moment)

    This boosts our defence force, and with an expanded navy we can get a host of smaller boats patrolling our shores, getting rid of illegal trawlers, and poachers.

    The Army can be used to conduct dawn raids and kick out those 12,000 PI overstayers who are bleeding us dry and not giving anything back.

    Leechers and bleeders need to be kicked out and sent back home. Immigration don’t have the power, the army can conduct searches for illegals.

    Our police force will be expanded as in recession crime escalates, as proven on this site, when unemployment rises.

    On joining one of those forces, people sign up for an initial three year contract. One year training, one year overseas doing peacekeeping missions, and one year back in NZ. Upskills our country, and starts clearing out the dreck and muck.

    I acknowledge that kicking out overstayers is a contentious issue, but seriously, 12,000 sucking off our teats and giving nothing back is crippling. New Zealand does need to crack down.

    • Bill 6.1

      How many teats you got there Jasper? Might I suggest cabbage leafs for the sake of relief? Perhaps after your nipples have settled your comments will be less painful too!. I honestly thought your comment was misfiring satire until the penny dropped.

      • Jasper 6.1.1

        Last time I looked I had three teats.

        One for the SO, one for the kid and one for the government.

    • I’ll leave your disgusting bigotry for others (maybe you could train up some special soldiers to deal with those darn overstaying darkies, SS has a nice catchy ring to it?) to deal with, but how exactly do you expect someone to survive if you cut off their payments once you kick them out of your training camp, where they have been locked up unable to go look for work.

      Thats the thing about you tories who have never even been close to living in a situation like that. You have no conception of no money. You may know what its like to have “no money” for a new car or fridge, but you’ll likely to have never been anywhere near, no money for food and shelter. And for all you’re sides talk about “the real world”, it really is quite a laugh.

      • Jasper 6.2.1

        What? Me Tory?

        Kitno, you didn’t read the point I made where those in training camps are getting paid to be there. As it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever get a chance to spend that money while at camp, as food, and shelter is provided free, they will have more than enough to survive off while looking for work.

        If they can’t find work, the option is still there to get into one of the forces as long as its within a set time period – say three months. Didn’t put that in there.

        Assuming we pay a going rate of $30,000 a year, after 6 months at camp that’s still a good 10K to live off for a couple of months.

        But unlike sitting at home sending off multiple CVs for jobs that have hundreds of applicants, they’re getting some value out of exercise.

        As for the teat suckers, why are they here? Seriously, Labour forgot that it’s a party that was created by workers, for workers. When it’s attentions focused inwards and on the lower rung of society it succeeded in alienating a large bloc of middle class workers.

        Riddle me this: You didn’t say anything against my points, except to say I’m a bigot on ridding the country of overstayers.
        When was the last time any overstaying PI set up a business, hired locals to work for them? None. When was the last time an overstaying asian set up a business and hired locals to work for them? None, cos they’re not overstayers when they have a business.

        There’s logic in there somewhere to my flu addled brain.

        • Bill

          Since I’m over 30 jasper, can I join your version of the Home Guard? And as you will no doubt be Captain Mainwaring, can I be Private Frazer?

          Just send me your measurements and we’ll get you all fixed up.

          • Jasper

            So why is it good to have 12,000 overstayers contributing nothing to our society?

        • “When was the last time any overstaying PI set up a business, hired locals to work for them? None. ”

          Maybe that is because it is illegal, and it is in their self interest to stay here, and starting a business is a pretty quick way to get caught.

          • Jasper

            Ok, now turn it around into a legal PI

            Any of those legal immigrants set up their own businesses? I know ONE. Just one, and they hire white kids cos they admit privately they wouldn’t hire any PI teens as they’re “too lazy”

            So whats really the biggest drain on our society? Maori or PI?

            • felix


              Are you seriously saying that of all the Polynesian immigrants legally in NZ only one has started a business that you know of?

              Are you further suggesting that this shows anything apart from your lack of contact with Polynesians?

              Is this a serious statement that you expect rational people to engage with?

  7. Ari 7

    I think you do the Maori Party a bit of disservice by saying they’re asleep.

    More like they’re trying to figure out how to challenge National to give them more when they can’t threaten to paddle their waka alongside Labour instead.

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    Arguing about who has talent, who knows what they are talking about etc etc is pointless. In the end all you get is one lot saying our beliefs are better than theirs.

    The questions should be- Is who has the better ideas to brand and position NZ for sustainable economic, ecological and social progress? Who has the creative talent to foster new ideas?

    We know what is coming ie world wide food, energy and water shortages, The ability to envisage new ideas or at least attempts to think outside the square will be the most important factor determining our future.

    Labour weren’t great at responding to changes going on around them, It is painfully obvious that this government has a lot of catching up to do to reverse the decline of our research, environmental, social and educational capital. Cutting back in these areas will set us years back.

  9. Bill 9

    Sorry. Replied in wrong place

  10. Tom Semmens 10

    Jasper, Jasper! Nice of you to conveniently package all the Shibboleths of the teh interweb right in one post!

    First of all, if everyone between the ages of 17-30 is going to be employed by the various organs of state repression, how do you propose to uphold the libertarian ideal of freedom? All those armed soldiers, sailors and airmen with nothing to do…
    And I hope you don’t mind the tax increase to pay their wages whilst they idle about in their barracks doing nothing. Actually you probably won’t get a say, because shortly after you employ the army to routinely engage in internal policing, they’ll probably just take over running the whole place. Nice blow for freedom, you fuckwit.

    And if we are going to pay all these young people a considerable wage whilst training to become permanently employed on the state payroll, would it not be better to just train them to be teachers, nurses, firefighters, you know, useful things that don’t involve miltarism? Or are you attracted by the idea of all those hunky men in uniform? It is O.K. to admit that here. You are amongst liberals now.

    Honestly. As i said, you’ve displayed all the shibboleths of right wing posters. Kneejerk, unfocussed and inchoate anger over something – anything! – Racism (how many whites are overstaying here, have you ever wondered?), an apparent yearning for an authoritarian hierarchy (how DID your potty training go anyway?) – except for yourself – and a desperate desire to punish people to, presumably, make yourself feel a better and more superior person.

    Go away and don’t come back until you’ve grown up and matured into a real adult.

    • Jasper 10.1

      Tom Tom! Calm down fucks sake.

      Surely you know by now I just like to rark up members amongst the left simply as I don’t believe that the left should be all cushy and molly coddle those who choose to live here at the expense of others who already do. I’m sorry but that’s exactly what’s happened over the past 4 years.
      Labour was a party founded by workers, for the workers, which has been forgotten by them. Too focussed on washing out the swill from the pig bucket to make it pristine and clean without realising it’s just going to get dirty again in a matter of minutes.

      It’s not everyone as you believe, just those who aren’t already in school, work or training. I.e. those on a benefit.

      They won’t be sitting around doing nothing either.. If New Zealand can actually get peace keepers overseas, it’ll heightens our standing in the world.

      Sure, my targets the PI’s for now as they’re in my community and I see first hand the effects the overstayers have in my community. Thats not to say my beliefs dont extend to asian, australian, filipino, brazilian, american, african, british, and european overstayers. They’re all tarred with the same brush if they aren’t contributing to our society.

      Felix – I work with Polynesians in community groups and at the churches so it’s a bit off for you to suggest I have a lack of contact with them. When the news broke about Otimis Hapu scam, many in my area wanted to see him until it was explained it wouldn’t help their family members, many of whom claim benefits as it’s too easy for them to do so.
      Rankles against my beliefs. If they were here legally, it wouldn’t be an issue, but to be an ii, and claim benefits that’s fucking pathetic.
      As for those who set up businesses, yes, only ONE I know of actually has a business that employs other people outside of themselves or their immediate family (who may or may not be ii). If there are others, then sure, I’ll update my listings, but the fact remains, I don’t know any other PIs who’ve set up a business and hired external staff. Do you?
      This is disregarding all those who get into franchises as to my mind, that’s not starting your own business. You’re simply taking the IP from someone who’s set up the company and applying their methodologies to call yourself “Jims Mowing Ltd”

      Of course the other alternative is to set the benefit (any benefit) claimant age from 25 and be done with it. At least then that gets those between 18 – 25 off welfare, and into the real world instead of putting their hand out at the age of 18 in the expectation of being looked after by WINZ.

      Believe me, I know this is whats happening having worked at WINZ, and perversely, being on the other side of the counter at WINZ a couple of years apart.

      The current cradle to the grave situation doesn’t work, and is far more damaging to NZ’s economical and societal interests in the long term, so it’s time to get real and think radically.

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