Yesterday, Labour leader Phil Goff challenged National to present its plan for getting the economy through the global downturn. Halfway through National/ACT’s much-hyped first 100 days and, Goff pointed out, while Obama and the UK are pushing ahead with a ‘Green New Deal’ we’ve seen nothing from National/ACT except the cancelation of the one Green New Deal programme we did have, the home insulation plan.
While the UK, Aussie, UK, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, and just about every other government in the world have cancelled their usual holiday hiatus to respond to the crisis, ours is still on vacation. John Key was too busy at his holiday home in Hawaii to even respond to Goff’s criticism. That fell to Angry Bill who spat “Given the mess Labour left the economy in, they should be focused on getting their own house in order, rather than telling the new Government what to do.”
That’s the same Bill English who was praising the former government’s economic management just last month, along with various other commentators. And so they should. Labour left government with the government’s finances in the best shape they have ever been in, with record-low unemployment, with tax cuts targeted at low income workers, with rapidly rising wages, with a larger social wage, with Working for Families meaning many families pay no income tax, and with Kiwisaver increasing our private savings. In the face of a series of external shocks – the drought, record-oil prices, the sub-prime crisis, and the credit crisis that has emerged from it – the economy held up as well as it could have. Labour did as well as it could in trying circumstances. Of course, that doesn’t stop Bill resorting to angry attack as his only defence – he knows the attack is dishonest but it doesn’t matter as long as it distracts from the gaping hole where his government’s policy ought to be.
National/ACT can try and fix the blame wherever it chooses but the only question now is ‘what is National/ACT going to do?’ Where are its answers?
Bill and the Tories can spit all the bile they like but the job now is to govern. We’re still waiting.